Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Potluck Perils

So, we had a potluck at work. It was for the made up Wear Your NFL Football Jersey To Work Day (and only half a dozen of my co-workers showed up in the things; they got their pictures taken while the rest of us ordinary street clothes wearers were left out). I hate those kinds of events. Nothing against people eating other people's food, but it always makes me feel obligated to bring something in on the scheduled meal sharing day. I got the idea to just make up a candy and nut mix and make that my pathetic contribution, but I thought better of it, and the day ahead, in a discussion with my manager, he brought up the fact that everyone who wanted the easy way out was bringing soda, and that it would be nice to have something to drink as an alternative, like juice.

Well, that planted the seed, and juice it would be. I brought two bottles in, but, lazy bastard that I am, I didn't visit the store the night ahead, I waited until the morning of the potluck, and bought the juice on my way to work. This meant, of course, that it wasn't cold on my arrival. My manager the day before had said something about maybe someone could bring ice and how in the past they'd had it stored in the freezer compartment of one of the fridges in the break room until eating time. I don't think I have to say that no one brought any ice this time.

My solution was simple; I put my juice bottles in the freezer to get cold, but I knew it would require two hours or more to bring the juice temperature down to drinkable degrees. I left them there, unprepared for the email announcement just seconds later that it was time to "dig in" (I would end up taking my unopened and very cold juices home the next day).

I didn't dig in, at least not at first. But I did finally eat, not having brought anything (except some cookies that I was now going to save and take back home with me) and had a small plate of home-made rice and beans, a small bowl of chili (the very last of it, in fact) and a slice of store-bought cheesecake. It was when I got to the rice and beans that I had a thought. The rice and beans were stone cold, though no doubt they had been at least a little warm when delivered by their provider, and I was sure they were perfectly safe to eat, if unappetizing in their unheated state.

What I thought was what an unregulated situation it was, with no government appointed nanny inspecting for food safety, no license needed to prepare food for consumption outside the home, as long as it was not for sale. But what if I desired to make extra income that way, or even work for myself and quit my job to bake or cook for profit from a home kitchen and oven.

The State with its laws takes opportunities away from the poor, preventing them from making a living and earning their way out of poverty. It forces people into wage slavery or worse (starvation or homelessness) by cutting off choices.

Not so long ago I returned a U-Haul truck and met outside the door of the rental center a man and his mother, an older lady who didn't speak English. They had an older car and they were selling tamales and burritos out of the trunk. They offered beef, pork and chicken, and several employees of the U-Haul place bought their lunch from the two. It was all very illegal, but that does not equal wrong, and the nice man and his gentle, smiling mother were doing no harm, just making some money proving a product and service that others, in a free exchange, were willing to trade their dollars for.

But if the issue of food made at home is one of public safety and health (instead of what it really is, protecting the turf of those able to afford a commercial kitchen and willing to pay government extortion fees for the "privilege" of preparing food for sale) then how long will it be before potlucks are outlawed?

It's happening already with so-called child care, as with the case of the mom threatened with fines for watching her neighbor's kids each day before the start of school (though the State may back down, due only, I'm sure, to public outrage at such idiocy). The British police state, however, is not so easily persuaded by pressure (though possibly they'll be changing that insane law as well):

Two working mothers have been banned from looking after each other's toddlers because they are not registered childminders.

The close friends' private arrangement had let them both return to part-time jobs at the same company.

However, a whistle blower reported them to the education watchdog Ofsted and it found their informal deal broke the law.

A whistle blower? More like a nasty little Nazi watchdog; a sick, twisted, pro-State government lover and hater of liberty (you can't be for government and liberty at the same time, it's impossible).

Read on:

This was because little-known rules say friends cannot gain a 'reward' by looking after a child for more than two hours outside the child's home without agreeing to a number of checks including one from the Criminal Records Bureau.

Although the mothers never paid each other, their job-sharing deal was judged to be a 'reward'. Campaigners fear thousands of working families could be innocently breaking the rules by relying on close friends for informal childcare.

There you have the Orwellian, the Kafkaesque nightmare nature of the State, a tyranny ruling a world where you can never be sure if you're within its laws or not, no matter how innocent your activity, or how closely you think you're fulfilling the letter of some piece of legislation.

There is only one ultimate solution. We must end the State in order to wake up from the nightmare.

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