In my writings about “Great Moments in Foreign Government,” I’ve come across amazing examples of bone-headed and incompetent behavior by politicians and bureaucrats in other nations.
- The British government giving welfare to people with multiple wives.
- The German government having a jihadist working in one of its intelligence agencies.
- The Italian government appointing the wrong person for a job that shouldn’t exist.
- The Norwegian government financing friends for a mass murderer.
- The Greek government turning tourists into snoops for the tax police.
- The French government ordering trains that were too wide for railway stations.
- The Japanese government persecuting people for the horrible crime of giving unlicensed coffee enemas.
- The British government providing welfare payments for foreigners living in other countries.
- The German government spending more to administer a tax than it gets from collecting the tax.
Let’s add to this collection with three new stories about failures by foreign governments.
Our first example is from the United Kingdom, where the Times reports that spending on “sex education” actually increased teen pregnancy rates.
Teenage pregnancy rates have been reduced because of government cuts to spending on sex education and birth control for young women, according to a study that challenges conventional wisdom. The state’s efforts to teach adolescents about sex and make access to contraceptives easier may have encouraged risky behaviour rather than curbed it, the research suggests. In 1999, faced with some of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe, ministers paid councils tens of millions of pounds a year to tackle the problem. Some local authorities made the morning-after pill freely available through pharmacies, while most hired teenage pregnancy “co-ordinators”, opened sexual health clinics in schools, and funded sex and relationship education (SRE) classes. The number of pregnancies, however, has fallen at a significantly faster rate since the grants were scrapped in 2010, in spite of critics’ dire prophecies to the contrary. David Paton, of the Nottingham University Business School, and Liam Wright, of the University of Sheffield, found that the decline was steepest in areas where councils slashed their teenage pregnancy budgets most aggressively. …Analysis of 149 local authorities from 2009 to 2014 adds to a body of evidence that suggests that when the government involves itself in teenagers’ sex lives it often winds up achieving the opposite of what was intended.
A government policy backfiring? Perish the thought!
It reminds me of the story about students who took driver education classes from the government in Indiana being more likely to have accidents than the students who didn’t take classes.
Our second example is from Sweden, where a local government wants to create an entitlement for on-the-clock sex breaks.
Workers in Sweden could soon be allowed to take paid “sex breaks” during the day… A councillor in the northern town of Overtornea presented a motion asking that the area’s workers be given an hour during the day to go home and be intimate with their partners. …Muskos admitted there was no way to check whether workers would actually use the hour for its intended purpose. “You can’t guarantee that a worker doesn’t go out for a walk instead,” he said, adding that employers needed to trust their employees. …”This means that childbirth should be encouraged,” his motion states, as reported by Swedish newspaper Kuriren. …He said single people should also be allowed to take the hour to spend time improving their own well-being.
I wonder if the government will hire additional bureaucrats to monitor current bureaucrats to ensure that they are having sex on their breaks.
But what about those without spouses or significant others? Will the government pay to get them a partner? Don’t laugh, that’s something the British government already has done.
Speaking of which, we return to the United Kingdom for our third and final example. It seems lemonade cops don’t just exist in California, Georgia, and Oregon, they also patrol the mean streets of London.
A five-year-old girl selling lemonade to revellers heading to a festival in east London had her stand shut down by council officers who slapped her and her father with a £150 fine. Andre Spicer said his daughter burst into tears and told him “I’ve done a bad thing” after enforcement officers read out a lengthy legal letter before issuing him the notice. The five-year-old and Mr Spicer, a professor at City University, were given the fine for “trading without a permit” after they set up the make-shift stall near their home in Mile End. …Mr Spicer branded the enforcements officers’ decision an “over-zealous way of applying the rules,” after the pair set out to refresh festival goers heading to Lovebox in Victoria Park on Saturday. He said: “It’s not like she was trying to make a massive profit, this is just a five-year-old kid trying to sell lemonade. …Mr Spicer said he tried to tell his distraught daughter they would set up another stand to sell their homemade pop once they had a permit, but she replied: “No. It’s too scary.”
At least Canada tries to be unique. They bust kids who sell worms instead of lemonade.
But perhaps harassing kids is the best we can expect from the British government. After all, this is the place that is sometimes too incompetent to give away money. Though our cousins across the Atlantic are remarkably effective at producing pointless signs and road markings.