We've written harshly about the British nanny state in the past. Perhaps too harshly, in retrospect.
Based on recent news, what the British people need is a national nanny, someone who'll prevent them from hurting themselves.
Talk of swine flu parties has emerged on Internet forums. The idea is that exposing a child to the H1N1 virus while it remains relatively mild will give the child immunity if the virus returns in a more virulent form later on.
So if little Ian comes down with the swine flu, little Graeme and little Neville are invited to Ian's house, where they can share blankets and postnasal drip in the hope that, like a milkmaid suffering cowpox in the 19th century, they'll be immune to the "smallpox" strain of swine flu that's sure to come. Some day.
Of course, given enough time it's a certainty that the H1N1 virus will mutate not just into a "superflu," but a technologically advanced galactic empire of flu, ruling the pitiful descendants of British humanity from the orbital flu satellites.
In the meantime, here and now on the planet earth, the swine flu has killed hundreds of people already. And the British government, understandably, is warning parents that it's a bad idea for parents to expose their children to influenza.
Will British parents heed this advice? That's an interesting question. As others have pointed out, in America our lawyer-driven "nanny culture" is responsible for all sorts of ridiculous warning labels, to the point where a case can be made that consumers are less likely to take real warnings about threats that matter seriously. We may suffer from "warning fatigue."
In Britain on the other hand, the important job of protecting everyone from everything is not the work of lawyers, but the government and its employees, who seek to save the British people from pointed knives, Wi-fi in public, and in fact virtually everything except the government itself. And while we don't endorse exposing children to the flu, we have strong concerns about a government that seems to think it's the State's business to keep children from scraping their knees.
Eventually, Britain's "everything not compulsory is forbidden" ethos will catch up to it. Can a people who live from cradle to grave in the warm arms of a government nanny look after themselves? After years of Chicken Little, will the minority who consider it their personal responsibility to take care of themselves give up when the sky actually falls?
And probably moments before the attack of the Galactic Flu Empire.