Once upon a Mattress

In an unalloyed example of bureaucratic overkill, the Metropolitan Town Council of Bolton, England decided that a mattress dumped in a roadside ditch in the village of Little Lever would prove too daunting for mere mortals to remove. Locals had noticed the mattress lying on the side of a ditch and promptly reported it to the local waste authority. Rather than a couple of denim-clad, blue-collar types showing up to turn this mattress into a memory for the good citizens of Little Lever, a man in a business suit appeared instead and stalked around the mattress, busily jotting his impressions on some arcane government form affixed to his very official-looking clipboard.

This man was performing a "risk assessment" regarding the potential danger to life and limb should a team of men attempt to face this pillow-topped foe without the aid of heavy, mechanized equipment. A report about this mattress was duly filed with the man's superiors, who, in the interest of health and safety (concepts the British government only seems to care about outside of their hospitals), decided that there was not one man among them able to safely rid Little Lever of this nuisance. No, the job must be done by machine.

The feat of engineering (otherwise known as picking up the mattress) was scheduled for a week later, to coincide with the availability of the necessary heavy equipment, the news of which prompted the last two remaining real men in England to spring into action. The men, one pushing fifty and the other in his sixties, managed to bring the mattress to justice in a scant four minutes, although the elder of the two admitted that it "was a bit heavy."

Great Britain is about twenty-odd years ahead of our country in the race to socialist oblivion. The instances of incompetence, nanny-ism, and inexcusable fecklessness by those charged with the administration of government in England provide a useful glimpse into our own future. During the 1970's, the thuggish power of the trade union movement caused terrible economic convulsions in the once-impressive British system. The nationalization of virtually all major industry in the immediate post-WWII era enabled the trade unions to position themselves as the sole voice on behalf of the working class, pitted against the government in the role of Management. 

The resulting gold-plated labor contracts across all of British industry led to a predictable collapse of competitiveness globally and a growing hunger for government to guarantee that workers would not see their standard of living fall, even though the industries they bankrupted had nothing left to give. The eventual return to private ownership of industry was hobbled by the State's insistence on maintaining operational control. This had the same disastrous results, but it forced the private sector to shoulder the losses brought on by government mismanagement. The mirror image of this can be seen in our own country with the TARP debacle, with the losses laid at the feet of the public sector and the profits privatized.

As the British economy crumbled, government was the only entity large enough to bridge the gap between the fantasy sold to the workers and the reality of the economy they had devastated with their insupportable collective demands. Government grew exponentially in England in the seventies in a stumbling attempt to keep up, building on the foundation laid by the misguided economic theories of John Maynard Keynes. This is the same Keynesian theory employed by the Obama administration as they boldly lead us down the same garden path.

The overbearing intrusiveness of government in the daily lives of British citizens is astonishing to those of us raised with an individualist spirit and a healthy respect for personal property rights. In parts of Great Britain, Town Councils have set up "energy monitoring" programs involving government planes equipped with infrared scanners flying over neighborhoods to record the heat signatures of homes. This is a very costly endeavor to determine who is wasting energy through poor insulation or leaky windows. Of course, it is still the homeowner who pays for his own utility use, but that doesn't stop the town council from forcing him to spend thousands on retrofits to gain greater efficiency or risk running afoul of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act of 2004, which allows the Council Authority to force the sale of the property to the council in the service of public environmental interests. 

In other parts of England, homeowners are wrestling with a flood of homeless immigrants living in the homeowners' backyards. These homeless are taking up residence in people's coal sheds and storage buildings, and they are even building tree houses for themselves. The squatters use the yards as toilets, and heavy drinking and drug use among them leaves detritus of used needles and assorted trash. Homeowners have appealed to the police for assistance only to be told that it is a civil, not a criminal matter. Turning then to their local town councils, they are hearing that it is difficult to deal with the influx of immigrants under current budgetary constraints and reportedly have been told that they, the homeowners, should help the squatters access needed government services. Clearly private property rights are not top-of-mind for the average government staffer in Great Britain.

We've seen this movie before, and the plot has no twists. Like a spinoff from a once-popular sitcom, the actions of this administration are formulaic and wooden. The ending is pre-ordained. Our president and his allies in Congress are engaging in the same lunacy, akin to tossing the American people out of airplanes in the hope that eventually, one of us will learn how to fly before we hit the ground. There are few certainties in this life; however, the inevitable tendency of government to draw to it powers never intended for its use is axiomatic, regardless of culture, era, or location.

The uniquely American spirit of "rugged individualism" that winds through our nation's history is devolving into a relic of a wiser time. Having spent the better part of three centuries as the innovation benchmark for the rest of the planet, America is finally succumbing to the bed-wetting pillow-biters' vision of the Promised Land. We are becoming Europe, and the mattresses have begun piling up. It is past time for the people to reject the perverse "mothering" of the state and look to themselves and each other to deal with the problems in our own towns and lives. It is important to remember the words of Benjamin Franklin when tempted to make the same mistake twice:

I should have no objection to go over the same life from its beginning to the end: requesting only the advantage authors have, of correcting in a second edition the faults of the first.

It would be prudent to consider Great Britain as the first edition of the book of liberty. May we be the wiser for having read that book before writing the final chapters of our own.

The author writes from Omaha, NE and can be reached at readmorejoe@gmail.com
In an unalloyed example of bureaucratic overkill, the Metropolitan Town Council of Bolton, England decided that a mattress dumped in a roadside ditch in the village of Little Lever would prove too daunting for mere mortals to remove. Locals had noticed the mattress lying on the side of a ditch and promptly reported it to the local waste authority. Rather than a couple of denim-clad, blue-collar types showing up to turn this mattress into a memory for the good citizens of Little Lever, a man in a business suit appeared instead and stalked around the mattress, busily jotting his impressions on some arcane government form affixed to his very official-looking clipboard.

This man was performing a "risk assessment" regarding the potential danger to life and limb should a team of men attempt to face this pillow-topped foe without the aid of heavy, mechanized equipment. A report about this mattress was duly filed with the man's superiors, who, in the interest of health and safety (concepts the British government only seems to care about outside of their hospitals), decided that there was not one man among them able to safely rid Little Lever of this nuisance. No, the job must be done by machine.

The feat of engineering (otherwise known as picking up the mattress) was scheduled for a week later, to coincide with the availability of the necessary heavy equipment, the news of which prompted the last two remaining real men in England to spring into action. The men, one pushing fifty and the other in his sixties, managed to bring the mattress to justice in a scant four minutes, although the elder of the two admitted that it "was a bit heavy."

Great Britain is about twenty-odd years ahead of our country in the race to socialist oblivion. The instances of incompetence, nanny-ism, and inexcusable fecklessness by those charged with the administration of government in England provide a useful glimpse into our own future. During the 1970's, the thuggish power of the trade union movement caused terrible economic convulsions in the once-impressive British system. The nationalization of virtually all major industry in the immediate post-WWII era enabled the trade unions to position themselves as the sole voice on behalf of the working class, pitted against the government in the role of Management. 

The resulting gold-plated labor contracts across all of British industry led to a predictable collapse of competitiveness globally and a growing hunger for government to guarantee that workers would not see their standard of living fall, even though the industries they bankrupted had nothing left to give. The eventual return to private ownership of industry was hobbled by the State's insistence on maintaining operational control. This had the same disastrous results, but it forced the private sector to shoulder the losses brought on by government mismanagement. The mirror image of this can be seen in our own country with the TARP debacle, with the losses laid at the feet of the public sector and the profits privatized.

As the British economy crumbled, government was the only entity large enough to bridge the gap between the fantasy sold to the workers and the reality of the economy they had devastated with their insupportable collective demands. Government grew exponentially in England in the seventies in a stumbling attempt to keep up, building on the foundation laid by the misguided economic theories of John Maynard Keynes. This is the same Keynesian theory employed by the Obama administration as they boldly lead us down the same garden path.

The overbearing intrusiveness of government in the daily lives of British citizens is astonishing to those of us raised with an individualist spirit and a healthy respect for personal property rights. In parts of Great Britain, Town Councils have set up "energy monitoring" programs involving government planes equipped with infrared scanners flying over neighborhoods to record the heat signatures of homes. This is a very costly endeavor to determine who is wasting energy through poor insulation or leaky windows. Of course, it is still the homeowner who pays for his own utility use, but that doesn't stop the town council from forcing him to spend thousands on retrofits to gain greater efficiency or risk running afoul of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act of 2004, which allows the Council Authority to force the sale of the property to the council in the service of public environmental interests. 

In other parts of England, homeowners are wrestling with a flood of homeless immigrants living in the homeowners' backyards. These homeless are taking up residence in people's coal sheds and storage buildings, and they are even building tree houses for themselves. The squatters use the yards as toilets, and heavy drinking and drug use among them leaves detritus of used needles and assorted trash. Homeowners have appealed to the police for assistance only to be told that it is a civil, not a criminal matter. Turning then to their local town councils, they are hearing that it is difficult to deal with the influx of immigrants under current budgetary constraints and reportedly have been told that they, the homeowners, should help the squatters access needed government services. Clearly private property rights are not top-of-mind for the average government staffer in Great Britain.

We've seen this movie before, and the plot has no twists. Like a spinoff from a once-popular sitcom, the actions of this administration are formulaic and wooden. The ending is pre-ordained. Our president and his allies in Congress are engaging in the same lunacy, akin to tossing the American people out of airplanes in the hope that eventually, one of us will learn how to fly before we hit the ground. There are few certainties in this life; however, the inevitable tendency of government to draw to it powers never intended for its use is axiomatic, regardless of culture, era, or location.

The uniquely American spirit of "rugged individualism" that winds through our nation's history is devolving into a relic of a wiser time. Having spent the better part of three centuries as the innovation benchmark for the rest of the planet, America is finally succumbing to the bed-wetting pillow-biters' vision of the Promised Land. We are becoming Europe, and the mattresses have begun piling up. It is past time for the people to reject the perverse "mothering" of the state and look to themselves and each other to deal with the problems in our own towns and lives. It is important to remember the words of Benjamin Franklin when tempted to make the same mistake twice:

I should have no objection to go over the same life from its beginning to the end: requesting only the advantage authors have, of correcting in a second edition the faults of the first.

It would be prudent to consider Great Britain as the first edition of the book of liberty. May we be the wiser for having read that book before writing the final chapters of our own.

The author writes from Omaha, NE and can be reached at readmorejoe@gmail.com

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