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Ruminations on regulations

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Well over a hundred years ago Leo Tolstoy wrote "government officials have regulations in place of their heart."

How true.

It seems nothing has changed and possibly since and things are worse as we have considerably more regulations to contend with and, of course, many more officials to enforce the regulations.

What has got me going on this topic was the recent situation in which a child’s lunch was put under scrutiny and found wanting. Apparently the school system had a regulation that a child’s lunch should include fruit, dairy products  and a grain product.

Though this child’s lunch appeared to be healthy and well balanced it lacked a grain component.

With an eagle eye the regulator swooped. Aha! No grain product ! This child’s health is at risk, which was corrected by giving the child a couple of Ritz crackers. Then, to make sure this never happened again, they charged the parents a couple of bucks for the crackers and chastised them for their negligence.

This is only one example of many equally ridiculous regulations. Children have been taken to task and even suspended for things such as bringing a wooden letter opener shaped like a knife to show and tell at school.

Another young boy in school was chastised for pointing a finger at one of his friends and going "Bang!" A six-year-old boy was taken to task for hugging or kissing a girl he favoured. I’m sure you can think of many more equally absurd rule interpretations.   

This kind of thinking is what is the matter with our messed up schools, hospitals, and governments. They’re infested with rules and regulations, many of which are frequently enforced to the letter to be safe. But being on the safe side often doesn’t address the problem.

In a lengthy career I encountered this kind of thinking far too often. When I had a problem and took it to the boss I knew I was in trouble If he or she pulled out the company policy book to see what it said about the situation.

I’m not sure what to call this kind of thinking but it definitely isn’t managing.

It’s a deliberate, dishonest, and sneaky disregard for taking responsibility.

Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at ronbuffie@shaw.ca

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