Friday, April 10, 2009

Sell a pie for Jesus, go to jail.

Let us start with the petty rules of bureaucracies. The Wall Street Journal reports that various churches in Pennsylvania are finding that church suppers are illegal unless they have state inspectors approve their kitchens. More importantly, any item not prepared in that state approved kitchen is illegal. So the tradition of women backing pies and selling them at church suppers, to raise money for the church, is verboten.

The Journal reports that the attendees at such suppers were outraged that Mother Government has stepped in to protect them from, well, ultimately to protect them from themselves. Of all the rules that politicians dream up to inflict these sorts of rules strike me as the dumbest. Food prepared in a home kitchen can't be served to us. Yet, we can all eat in our own home kitchens. If home kitchens are unsafe then why the hell are we allowed to eat in them? Secondly, we've all had experiences eating "home made" food and we've all eaten food prepared by government entities. Which is better? Why is "home made" a selling point with people? Why doesn't anyone market food "just like the staff at P.S. 101 make"?

Many years ago, when at university, I remember a piece I wrote about my one experience eating at the university cafeteria. My friend Frank and I were having lunch on campus. He ate on campus most of the time but I never had. I ordered a simple hamburger and told them, "No tomato, please." I was legitimately baffled when they said, "We can't do that."

Now I understood that sometimes you request things that they can't do but requesting people not to do something is usually easy. You can order "toast, no jam" a lot easier than you can order "toast, with caviar." I know I looked confused. The staff member repeated herself. She informed me that I had no choice and that I had to take the tomato. I informed her that I don't like tomato. I informed her that I would only throw it in the garbage. I may have even invoked the image of starving people in China (I told you this was a long time ago). She stood her ground. I had no choice in the matter. It was rule. They had to put a tomato on every hamburger because it was good for us.

I asked her if she could put in on the side of the plate and she said she could. She handed me the plate, we were still in line at the time. Immediately behind was a trash can and I turned and threw the tomato in the garbage. But she was happy. The rule had been obeyed. The omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient State had been satisfied. That a perfectly good slice of tomato, which some people actually like, was thrown in the trash didn't matter. The rules had been obeyed. The gods of bureaucracy were placated. If memory serves me right maybe I should have kept the tomato, to disguise the taste of the hamburger.

The fact is that government makes lousy food. Thankfully, the Obamatrons in office haven't yet mandated that we eat in government-run cafeterias. But they haven't taken to bailing out restaurants that they put out business—well, not yet anyway.

The uproar in Pennsylvania, dubbed "piegate" by the local media, did make one person happy. Bill Chirdon, who runs the food gestapo for the local Department of Agriculture, was piratically orgasmic. He said all the publicity is letting the public know that church bake sales, etc., are illegal. Bureaucrats are thrilled when the public knows that another aspect of human existence has been outlawed by Nanny.

As absurd and petty-minded as these bureaucrats are, what really surprised me about this story was precisely how nasty the churches were—to each other. You would think, that under assault from the food Nazis in government, these churches would band together and maybe fight for freedom—for a change of pace, at least. Nope. Chirdon reports, "I've gotten a lot of letters from churches that are tattletaling on churches down the street that aren't licensed and don't meet standards for food service." Ah, yes, another example of Christian charity.

Photo: Two dangerous felons attempting to poison America, worse than terrorists I say. Send them to Gitmo and torture them, damn it. Save the children! Heil Obama.

Labels: ,