The Never-Ending Battle Between the U.S. and U.K. for Stupidest Government Policy

Daniel J. Mitchell
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Posted: Jan 03, 2012 12:01 AM

In June of last year, I posted several examples of idiotic government policy from both the United States and United Kingdom and asked which nation had the dumbest bureaucrats and politicians.

Since then, we have found new examples of brain-dead government and jaw-dropping political correctness from England, including an effort to stop children from watching Olympic shooting events and (what must be) the most pointless sign in the history of the world.

But American politicians have been busy as well in recent months, with impressive displays of incompetence and stupidity such as preventing a girl from boarding a plane because her purse had an image of a gun and a local school calling the police because a little girl kissed a little boy in gym class.

The competitive juices must be flowing, because there’s a new example of government stupidity from the United Kingdom that is hard to believe. As reported by the Register, you now need an ID to buy teaspoons.

Are you under 18 years of age? Do you have an urgent need for teaspoons? Well, avoid Asda’s Halifax tentacle where the powers that be are determined to prevent this potentially-lethal item of cutlery falling into the hands of murderous yoof. …According to the background info, the lady shopper in question was told by an Asda assistant that she’d have to prove her age “because someone had murdered someone with a teaspoon, and therefore ID was now required”.

Actually, I suppose I’m being unfair to blame the public sector for this nonsense. The story doesn’t actually say this is a government-imposed policy. So perhaps the store inexplicably decided to antagonize customers and hinder commerce with this new requirement.

But if that’s the case, I’ll still blame government because the store manager doubtlessly was (mal)educated at a government school.

Some American readers may be feeling a bit gloomy at this point. After all, how can politicians and bureaucrats in the United States possibly match the stupidity of their cousins on the other side of the Atlantic?

Well, don’t be depressed. America still has a strong claim to the top position in this contest about government incompetence. After all, cops in Indiana arrested a grandmother for buying cold medicine for her husband and then (gasp!) buying cold medicine for her daughter before the end of the seven-day waiting period.