The long malign arm of the Environment Agency
17 Oct 2006 - Bruno Prior
As reported by the Telegraph, but strangely not available on their website, the charity Inter Care has been forced to shut down its operations by the Environment Agency (EA). Inter Care sends unused drugs from the UK to African hospitals. The EA has ordered them to suspend shipment because they may be breaching European Union regulations on waste disposal. Clinics in Africa are now running short of drugs as a result.
You can pick your enemy in this story. Maybe the fault is the European Union, for legislating in such a way that it would prevent something as beneficial as this. Or maybe it is the fault of the EA for excessive pedantry in the application of regulations. Experience of the EA would strongly suggest the latter, but experience of the EU would suggest the former. Is this the perfect confluence of two of the most sclerotic government bodies in the world? The perfect bureaucratic storm?
Whoever you blame, blame government generally. Did anyone ask the Africans what they wanted before some pencil-pusher decided that they were better off dying for lack of drugs than risking whatever dreadful fate the waste regulations were supposed to prevent?
If this story doesn't convince you that government intervention isn't just counterproductive but (in some cases) positively evil, you should go and live in North Korea where the Communist dream is alive and well.