We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

On the radio in Euro-Britain

If you go to the home page of Talk Sport Radio you’ll find lots of stuff about sport, and only non-sport news if it’s sport related. Someone let off a bomb in Spain yesterday and the Talk Sport Radio homepage notices, because it happened near a football ground. Interesting priorities. On the radio show itself, however, non-sport news does get regularly mentioned, and even talked about a bit.

I never listen to Talk Sport unless I’m on it, but I will be listening to it just after 10 am this morning because I will be on it. I’m to discuss the fact that according to some insane new law it is now, according to the researcher who’s just rung me, illegal to have a compost heap within 270 yards of your house. My memory is surely playing games with me. Our government would never dream of making a law like that. It has to be 270 metres, surely. Either way, we’re in barking fruitbat territory here, with every suburban gardener with a compost heap now breaking yet another idiot law.

The chances are that this particular item of fruitbattery is the result of the idiot collision between the separately sane – but when combined in Britain fruitbatarian – legal traditions of Britain and of Continental Europe. Some Euro grandee says, in some directive or proclamation or fatwa or whatever, that people shouldn’t have violently smelly compost heaps too near their kitchens. Fair enough. Why taxpayers need to pay someone to say things like this isn’t clear, but that’s the price of living in Europe, which by and large is a very fine place as places on this planet go. You nod your head, and get on with your life. You continue to keep your compost heap, if you have one, in the same place as before. All is serene. The big Euro-fromage continues to collect his salary, and God’s in his heaven.

Except in Britain. When Brussels says something, it becomes in Britain the basis of the law. This vague piece of Brussels sermonising is taken away and “clarified”. How smelly? An answer is made up. 94 smelibels. How far away? 270 yds/metres. (Not 250, by the way, which was the number the radio researcher originally supplied to me. 250 would be too round a number. That would sound like they just made it up.) Never mind that about a quarter the suburbanites of Britain have compost heaps stinking to the tune of at least 300 smelibels, and within about 10 yards of their back doors. The point is to abide by our European treaty obligations. And so this law is duly composed, with no more thought given to it than Talk Sport gives to non-sport news, in fact a lot less. Nobody thinks about it. Nobody can be held individually responsible for it. Not the twat who made it up, not his superior (who had 412 new laws to think about that morning alone), certainly not the Undersecretary of State at the Fruitbat and Related Creatures Office who is supposedly in charge of this process. So, the new law of compost heaps, together with all the other laws made up that day, is driven over to the House of Commons in a convoy of articulated lorries, and a few months later the Queen signs something and it’s the law for real.

Members of Parliament? Aren’t they supposed to have “readings” of these things? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that anyone actually reads the stuff. Laws in Britain nowadays are like academic papers in America. The overwhelming majority of them are not actually read by anybody except the drones who write them. Nobody at all.

The remarkable thing about this law is not that it passed, but that someone did eventually read it, pointed out that it was insane, and turned it into a media ruckus and an excuse for me to be on the radio.

There goes the phone. Excuse me while I dazzle the nation …

It turns out that it is illegal to have a compost heap within 270 yards (it is yards) of your house without a license. This is actually just as insane, but a bit more subtle. The insanity will only get seriously under way when the Compost Heap Office opens, and gets swallowed up in financial scandal, and when people with bona fide Compost Heap Licenses, which they just went and got, for seventeen quid, start keeping totally unregulated compost heaps in their kitchens (which used to be sort of illegal). Why has the Minister for Fruitbats not taken immediate action to curb this malpractice? … Why have more resources not been set aside? (That’s spent, to you and me.) Why? … Why? … Why? …

Another radio call. Busy day. Next up: I’m on BBC Radio Scotland at lunchtime, on whether Britain needs twenty three new laws to curb the British National Party. Here’s my plan. Keep a few of the laws we already have against being seriously nasty. Punish people if they break them. Apply them vigorously to the BNP, and to everyone else.

Another call. LBC Radio. Cannabis march on Saturday, you’ve heard about that? (No, being a libertarian these days means that you miss things.) Okay. 2 pm tomorrow.

All this chat radio excitement probably results from Sean Gabb being on BBC Radio 4‘s Today Programme, yesterday morning. Unlike most of the stuff I do, that’s a big one.

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