Where's the beef? The central planners in the Common Market have been so successful in getting farmers to increase their beef production that the Brussels Commission now plans to sell off 175,000 tons of surplus beef to the Soviet Union. Of course, it cost Common Market taxpayers more than $350 million to buy and store the beef, which is being sold to Moscow for a mere $100 million. And don't forget the butter surplus; one million tons of it are socked away right now. Never let it be said that the Soviets have to worry about guns versus butter.
Drivers who wear seat belts are killing pedestrians and bicyclists in record numbers, according to a recent study. Just 20 months after Britain's seat-belt law was enacted, 421 fewer drivers have been killed than in a previous 20-month period. But 77 more pedestrians, 63 more cyclists, and 69 more backseat passengers were dead. Geographer John Adams speculates that belts may promote dangerous driving habits by making drivers feel more secure. What are the safety statisticians going to do with this one?
David Wilson of Cocoa Beach, Florida, got fed up with motorists speeding down his residential street. So he placed a hand-lettered sign on his front lawn that says, "Slow down, clowns. It's only 20 mph." Well, the clowns at city hall just wouldn't stand for that. They informed Wilson that the building department does not allow any kind of sign that makes a personal statement. The sign had to be removed or Wilson would face the penalty. What? A seltzer bottle in the face?
Could communism's days be numbered? Italian fast food and French fashions are making their way into Mother Russia. Paolo Portoghesi has designed a fast-food restaurant for a side street near Red Square; he's hoping to open in time for the Soviet Communist Party congress. And French fashion designer Pierre Cardin has signed a contract to make designer clothing for a nation of gray-collar workers. "It is my dream to dress all 280 million Soviets," gushes Cardin. Could 7-11s be far behind?
Illinois Congressman John Grotberg just can't stand the thought of having "The Star-Spangled Banner" played on foreign-made musical instruments. The wise man thinks it's positively un-American to play patriotic tunes on imported fifes and drums. So he's introduced a bill to require military bands and choirs to use only American-made instruments. The moron will no doubt be reelected.
For every law devised by a meddlesome government, there're more 'n a few loopholes. Take Kansas. The state legislature passed several get-tough laws against liquor promotions to save the denizens of that great state from excessive tippling. To eliminate the evil of happy-hours, the law decrees that drink prices must remain the same all day. Tavern owners knuckled under—now they give all-day discounts on certain drinks. Rum days, gin days, etc., are as common as happy hours once were. The law also bans all-you-can-drink gimmicks. So many bars are now selling penny beers and penny drinks—after a cover charge. John Lamb of the Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division says he'll go before the legislature soon to propose that it either close the loopholes or repeal the law. "The last thing we need is another law on the books that doesn't work." Now that's something we can drink to.
And speaking of drinking…Forget about an apple a day keeping the doctor away. Order a keg of beer instead. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that moderate beer drinkers were sick less often than people who did not drink or those who drank hard liquor or wine. The study found beer drinkers in general had a rate of illness 13 percent lower than expected and concluded that moderate beer drinking—about three a day—was associated with 25 percent less illness than anticipated. "There is a great deal of evidence accumulating all over the Western world that moderate drinking is associated with better health," says Thomas Turner, dean emeritus of the Hopkins School of Medicine. Another round for everyone?
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".