The Corner

Where the Red River Runs

I thought that readers might be interested in a letter, very timely. In my Impromptus column today, I talk of Britain, and the growth of the Nanny State. (Health-and-safety inspectors have the run of the country, and impose the most silly and insulting decisions.) I also talk of how the character of a people can change.

Well, a reader writes,

Hello, Jay,

I read your column, and I have a comment regarding the Nanny State forming right here in the U.S. I live in Fargo, N.D., and I assume you’ve heard about our struggles with the Red River over the past week. We have had terrific volunteer turnout, helping sandbag, monitor levees, etc. Several people were calling the local radio stations to ask where they could deliver food: They were unable to help with the physical work going on, but they could cook. They wanted to help however they could.

The local radio folks did a great job hooking up hungry workers with complimentary food, until the Minnesota and North Dakota health agencies heard what was going on. They called in to the radio stations to remind listeners that the only food that could be delivered must be in its original store-bought packaging or prepared in a commercial kitchen!

Thankfully, the radio personality I was listening to — a liberal one at that! — chewed them out very publicly for interfering with this volunteer effort to feed people. He told everyone who wanted to cook to go ahead and do it and we would sort of the legality of the whole issue after the water receded.

He did go along with the health departments for about an hour, but during that time he had to field several calls from workers begging for food.

Well, hurray for individual initiative — and community initiative, for that matter. And hurray for common sense over the nannies among us (not that the nannies aren’t sometimes right).


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