to reality TV
A POPULAR TV program many years ago involved filming unsuspecting people with secret cameras and seeing how they responded to a series of contrived situations.
When it became obvious that something was wrong, a TV type would appear and say "Smile, you're on Candid Camera", an explanation that I am starting to suspect should apply to some of the current news stories doing the rounds.
An article printed a few weeks ago about a report on the latest animal welfare legislation in Germany is a case in point, with the detail seeming so ludicrous that it is almost impossible to believe.
It was claimed that German pig farmers will soon be required to give each pig 10 seconds of quality time every morning and evening, with the farmers also being required to provide toys to eliminate porcine boredom.
Sunlight and a soft floor ‹ rubber matting or straw ‹ must be provided, as well as air conditioning of the shed to keep the porkers comfortable and a hospital area must be provided for sick pigs to recuperate in peace and comfort.
The EU then followed that up with a directive limiting the hours that a driver can spend each day at the controls of a tractor, which would mean that the Australian system of keeping a tractor moving 24 hours per day would require four drivers per tractor, per day.
It would be easy to believe that there is a bored journo in Brussels making up wild and woolly stories, knowing that anything from that source could be true, but Candid Camera type stories are coming from everywhere.
A $710,000 payout to an Australian woman who developed cancer after smoking since she was a 12yo is another example where the public could be excused for finding the report hard to believe.
She has proved that the product was harmful to her health, but for most of her smoking life she could have found that out by reading the warning which was printed in large letters on each packet of smokes she bought.
The adverts and the victim's inability to give up smoking were blamed for her problem, with the court ignoring the bleeding obvious fact that millions have ignored the advertisements and/or given up smoking.
As much as I feel sorry for her parlous state of health, it seems about time that people started to take responsibility for their own actions, instead of reaching for the phone and hiring a lawyer.
The case of paid maternity leave seems to be yet another example of people asking someone else to pay for their actions, with another report talking about the "right" to paid maternity leave.
It appears that everyone who might receive this benefit was asked for an opinion and not surprisingly, they approved of the concept, while an equally predictable response came from the people who will have to pay the bill.
It is very much like the old music hall melodrama from Victorian England, where the singer laments that "It's the rich wot gets the pleasure, but the poor wot gets the blame", except in this case, they will get the bill.
One of the arguments used was that the extra cash will increase our low birth-rate, yet no mention was made of the thousands of publicly-funded abortions each year that are designed to achieve precisely the opposite.
On another front, politicians, commentators and economists are pondering the escalating cost of the nation's social welfare system and the possible need to limit our population.
While a conference was discussing that, another court was giving a disparate group of people the right to access the IVF program, which will increase the population and use up the resources of an overstretched health system.
While the armed forces are advertising for volunteers to join up, the courts are giving vast sums to the occasional ex-serviceman for the trauma suffered in some peacetime accident.
At the same time, the soldiers from the SAS who lead a very exciting and dangerous life tackling a variety of threats to the nation are finding that, if they are no longer 100pc fit, they will be discharged.
The ability of the armed forces to employ wounded or handicapped veterans to perform non-physical work has been removed by a government that pays poorer compo to them than the victim a traffic accident receives.
We live in a market based economy where we are taught to respond to the signals coming from the marketplace, so it is no wonder that many of our citizens are thoroughly confused.
A series of governments have decreed that we want more or less migrants, higher or lower birthrights and to take more responsibility for ourselves by suing someone whenever anything goes wrong.
We are encouraged to join the armed forces by making them less attractive than other parts of the workplace, and told to get a job by a government that makes it more desirable to be unemployed.
The elderly are told they must stay in the workplace longer and keep earning their own money, while the workplace is showing that anyone over 50 is unlikely to get a job.
When I read the morning paper or watch the evening TV news, I am tempted to ring the various news editors and ask if I am on Candid Camera.