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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Bureaucrats put their banning undies on (again)

24 January 2013

Why do bureaucrats seem to think that the best way to cope with so many problems is to implement a ban on the product or service involved?

Got a problem with something? Just ban it and (so we're told) the problem will go away.

Well they banned murder, robbery, speeding, drugs and a raft of other "harmful" things -- yet that doesn't seem to have solved those problems at all.

We're told, after several high-profile incidents involving them, that it's only a matter of time before high-powered laser-pointers are banned in NZ, having already been made contraband in many other countries.

But ahead of such a ban, our bureaucrats have already acted to ban something far less dangerous, in the hands of sensible people

It seems that we're banning the sale of rare-earth magnets now.

They are now considered to be "unsafe goods" and as of today, they're illegal to sell.

Apparently the reason for this ban is the fact that if they're swallowed by young children, they can cause severe injury by tearing holes in the intestines -- as they pass through and snap together with others further up/down the line.

So, they're dangerous because if/when kids eat them, they cause injury and possibly even death.

Well the mind boggles as to the number of other every-day items that also fit this criteria for banning. What next?

I feel sorry for anyone who might have ordered one of those rare-earth magnet sets that can be shaped into cubes, spheres and all other manner of shapes -- chances are that yours will be confiscated by NZ Customs when it hits our shores, even though it was 100% legal when you ordered it. Sorry, you've done your dough!

And how are we to build our over-unity magnetic motors if the raw materials have been made illegal? Gosh, you know, I bet it was the oil industry who are responsible for this move. Those selling plans for these magic free-energy motors are always saying that the technology is being suppressed by "big oil" (ROTFL).

The reality is that these magnets are enormously useful in many applications -- such as holding the canopies on RC model aircraft, for temporarily magnetising the shaft of a screwdriver so that it will hold the tiny screw you're taking out of something -- and for experimenting with electromagnetism or demonstrating how motors/generators work.

Surely it would have been possible to deal with the risk these items pose to a very tiny percentage of the population in some less draconian and brute-force way?

Perhaps restrict their sale to people who are old enough not to want to eat them?

Maybe *educate* the public as to the risks so they can ensure that their babies and toddlers never get their hands on them?

Ah... but that would all require *work* on the part of the bureaucrats -- much simpler just to roll out the universal (and ineffective) panacea for all such ailments: ban, ban, ban.

What do you think? A ban on rare earth magnets in the 21st century? Really?

What is the world coming to?

Is it any wonder we have generations growing up with no ability to manage risk -- when they've been molly-coddled by the state and forced to live in "Nerf-land" for most of their lives?

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