This madness must end soon
You might remember the spoof ad for Power City from Bull Island. "Dis madness must end, sooooooon!" You might even remember the original ad.
Looking around me this week at what's been making headlines, the refrain entered my head, more as a prayer than anything else.
There are serious things going on in the world - bank bailouts, carnage in Syria, the rolling back of women's rights almost everywhere - and every radio show I heard on Tuesday and Wednesday was full of outrage about the advertising leaflets of four grocery shops, and whether or not calories should appear on menus.
The Taoiseach mentioned the flyers of four grocery shops in the Dáil on Tuesday. All publicity is good publicity, eh?
The four in question advertised, rather stupidly, 'Children's Allowance Day Deals' which included cheap beer. No, it's not advisable (or legal) to give beer to your children, but that's not what the outrage was about. The outrage was about the very idea that children's allowance would be spent on this sinful substance.
The level of national alcoholism is an issue. Below cost selling of alcohol is an issue. Drink driving is an issue, and so is underage drinking. In short, alcohol is a big, big issue in Ireland. But the real outrage here seems to be that people are free to buy whatever they want with "taxpayers' money".
Of course the shops shouldn't have recommended people buy beer with the children's allowance. But - and this is not a pleasant truth - they know their customers, and they know the days that sales peak. If you buy beer with the children's allowance does this mean your child isn't being fed and looked after? Not necessarily.
The issue here is trusting people to spend their own money - for that's what it is, when you give a universal benefit - the 'right' way. If you don't trust the public to spend their money on the 'right' things, why not go the whole hog and give out butter vouchers instead of children's allowance?
Restaurants are up in arms this week, too, after an expert group recommended that calorie counts be put on menus. As one local café owner tweeted, in exasperation, what's to stop someone picking a chocolate muffin for 345 calories rather than soup and brown bread at 346 calories? While they may have the same amount of calories, one is obviously a lot healthier than the other. But anybody with a brain knows that.
While we are making great headway in some aspects of respecting personal freedom - the potential introduction of full marriage rights for gay people being a great example - we are going absolutely over the top in nanny state-ism with measures like this.
Putting calories on menus isn't going to fix wilful ignorance any more than putting pictures of cancerous lungs on cigarettes has. But the key difference here is that only some foods are bad for you (and they're not necessarily high in fat, so the calories tell you nothing), but all cigarettes are bad for you.
People don't always want to make the 'right' decision, and it isn't up to the Government to make it for them.
We have an awful tendency to blame other people for our misfortunes, but personal responsibility has to come in here sometime. Society provides certain things - education, healthcare, and even children's allowance. At the end of the day, certainly on matters like what you buy with your own money, and what you eat, the decision is yours.