Don’t Die for Me, Argentina

by Mark Steyn

I see Argentina has just banned my book, and everybody else’s:

The Argentine government has severely restricted the importation of books due to “human health concerns” [in Spanish]. That’s right. According to the government, it can be dangerous to “page through” a book that has high lead quantities in its ink. “If you put you finger in your mouth after paging through a book, that can be dangerous,” said Juan Carlos Sacco, the vice-president of an industrialist organization that supports the measure.

The government claims that this is not a ban. However, since each buyer has to demonstrate at the airport’s customs office that the ink in the purchased book has lead quantities no higher than 0.006% in its chemical composition, the result is that all book imports into the country are stalled.

Boy, I’ll bet at their Monday night poker game in Hell, Hitler and Stalin are kicking themselves for not thinking of that one: “That schmuck Goebbels, burning books for ‘decadence’. Why didn’t we just burn them on Health & Safety grounds?” “Exactly, comrade. And next time we’ll jam the western radio broadcasts because they increase your risk of cancer. It’s for the children.”

This is not unrelated to the present ObamaCare debate. If the government regulates your health care arrangements on the grounds of controlling costs, it can surely regulate dangerous activities you undertake that could potentially increase those costs – like reading an imported book opposed to government health care.