Nanny State

The Irish Government signed off on two pieces of legislation this week.

One restricts selling of low cost alcohol, effectively setting an artificial floor price for the market.  It also imposed restrictions on communication and advertising of alcohol.

The other imposes a requirement to print the calorie count of dishes on menus.

Both of these measures are well intentioned.  There is no doubt that alcohol abuse causes many problems and that the nation is struggling with obesity.  But I find this kind of nanny state legislation offensive.  If you treat the population like children they will behave like children.  Tell them “do this” and “don’t do that” and control all aspects of their lives and people will stop behaving as adults.  They stop making decisions based on responsible consideration.  They either comply, or frequently they rebel against the strictures.

I am not an alcoholic.  Why should I be ruled by legislation designed to counter abuse of alcohol?

I am not obese.  I know how to lose weight.  Eat less, exercise more!

It is not the food I eat in restaurants that will make me obese (I don’t eat out often enough) it is what  eat at home.

The idea of putting labels on food came funnily enough from Kellogg’s.  They started out as a healthy food company.  They wanted their customers to be able to make informed, healthy food choices.  So they put nutrition information on packets as a way to educate and inform customers.

Governments have taken to this idea and now use food labeling as a blunt instrument to prove that they are doing something about the obesity crisis.  The truth is that the “cure” for obesity is political suicide.  The population of Britain were at their healthiest in the early 1950’s after 10 years of food rationing and a government controlled nutrition plan.  No modern government has the permission to take such drastic steps to improve the nations health.  Any government imposing rationing would lose every seat they hold in the next general election, and they know it.

So they pass measures that represent no more than lip service.  Measures that cause pain to restaurateurs and guilt to diners.

Meanwhile the nanny brigade retire to their joyless den of asceticism and dream up the next plan of action to inflict order upon the fun loving masses.  They will never be happy, never be satisfied, never be content.  For God’s sake stop feeding them!


A stone in my shoe; by Donal Clancy


It slipped into my shoe, down the outside of my foot.

It rattled around for a while, seeking somewhere to settle.

An annoyance, sharp, awkward, intrusive.


I left it there and continued to walk.

It wiggled and jiggled with every step.

It hurt when I stepped on it.


After a while it stopped moving.

It found some depression in the leather sole

and nestled into the base of my foot.


So we travelled together for a time,

getting used to each other

until I quite forgot the stone was there.


Next morning I put on my shoes.

The stone was gone.

All day my foot felt the void.


This is no moral tale or fable

No lesson on friendship or love

It was just a stone in my shoe.