Sad and Disturbing, But Not Surprising

A report from Sweden:

Annica Eriksson, a lunch lady at school in Falun, was told that her cooking is just too good.

Pupils at the school have become accustomed to feasting on newly baked bread and an assortment of 15 vegetables at lunchtime, but now the good times are over.

The municipality has ordered Eriksson to bring it down a notch since other schools do not receive the same calibre of food – and that is “unfair”.

via Right on the Left Coast

16 thoughts on “Sad and Disturbing, But Not Surprising”

  1. Harrison Bergeron, paging Harrison Bergeron…

    Sounds like government work to me – don’t raise the bar, lower the bar.

  2. That’s the whole liberal gig in a nutshell, isn’t it David?

    Take money from the successful because it isn’t fair to the failures.

    Give trophies to everyone because only rewarding the winners isn’t fair to losers.

    Punish excellence – reward mediocrity.

  3. A high school in my neighborhood was so successful at fundraising for heir band – they had a little store by my house – the school district told them to close it for the same reason –

    For the left you don’t aspire to be as good as the top – everybody had to be down at the bottom

  4. And it obviously never occurred to the authorities to have all the other lunch ladies in the district take turns coming to her school and seeing how she did it, and maybe offering her a bonus if she could help get them up to something like her own standards. The fact that the obvious common-sense solution either did not occur to them at all, or was rejected for some insane pseudo-reason, is just stunning.

  5. This is just sad in so many ways. She’s good at her job – and what Dr. Weevil said.
    (IIRC, the cafeteria at my jr high school was pretty good; at HS, not so good. In retrospect now, I do wonder.)

  6. It only takes one over-performing rotten apple to spoil the reputations of all the other, deserving, loyal, hard-working, well intentioned people in the rest of the system.

    It doesn’t reflet too well on management, either. (sarc)

  7. Reminds me of how Jorge Luis Borges became so extraordinarily well-read. As a young man, he got a job at the city library, started shelving books at a normal rate, and was told by the other employees that he needed to slow down a lot, or he would make them look bad. They may even have threatened bodily harm. (It’s been 30-40 years since I read this, but I remember the gist very well.) Anyway, where the other employees would take all day to shelve one not-very-high stack of books, he would shelve just as many in an hour, then pick out a couple of good books and go up on the roof and read for the other seven hours. It worked out well for him, but with municipal employees like that, it’s no wonder Argentina has been in a pitiful economic condition for decades.

  8. If I recall correctly, my sister-in-law had a friend who was threatened with severe bodily harm by her fellow employees in the parking lot of Social Security HQ in Baltimore after work. Her crime was making them all look bad by working too hard. Having come from private industry, she had thought she was taking it easy and not doing much work at all. This was 20+ years ago, but again I remember the story very well.

    Having worked with government bureaucrats (in DC, not Baltimore), I found the story quite plausible. Come to think of it, I was once part of a private company’s programming crew working at a certain well-known 3-character federal agency’s headquarters in D.C. in a department that was already fully staffed with government programmers. We did all the real work. Our boss really depressed us one day. He knew from their GS ranks and years of service exactly how much all the federal employees made. Our highest-paid employee, who was designer and head coder for a 100,000+ lines-of-code programming job and supervised the other 3 programmers and 1 QA tester, was the only one of us who made more money than the government department’s lowest-paid employee, whose only job was to keep an eye on the printer room and make sure no one stole any equipment or supplies. She read novels all day, since she had no actual duties except to be there, and not take a bathroom or lunch break without getting someone to cover for her.

  9. I would have found nothing weird if the news was coming from Italy or Spain or the Hellenic countries, but Lutheran Sweden? I always thought that in Ikealand there was an almost total devotion to work and success, alongside the personal commitment to the community. What Max Weber called the «Protestant ethic».
    Mala tempora currunt.

  10. “The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality” –Mencken

  11. Sweden does have a strange conformist streak. It’s pretty much the idea that everybody is going to act and live middle-class regardless. Rich people have to give up a lot in taxes, live down and not be ostentatious. Poor people get income from the state but are constantly being “reformed” and forced to live middle-class lifestyles.

    It’s linked to the concept of “lagom”, which is usually translated in English as “enough” but it means that there is some ideal degree of wealth or consumption which pretty much the same for every individual.

    The concept is very old dating back to pagan times. I would hypothesize that it is the result of the constant thriftiness needed to store up for long Scandinavia winters. Inuit have a similar attitude. Arctic people’s tend to be unusually supporting of their neighbors because everybody will need help at one time of the other. The decentralized, bottom up, ad hoc organization that is a cultural hallmark of northern Europe probably originates with the need to deal with harsh environment in a flexible and spontaneous manner. Egalitarian consumption is one way to avoid hierarchy and contention.

    In Christian times, lagom became associated with Christian humility and charity. Then it got hijacked by the socialist.

    What is different about the socialist version is that equality of economic outcome can only be created by a vast inequality of political power. Pre-socialist lagom was enforced culturally by the withdrawal of voluntary cooperation by individuals. Act better than everyone else and no one would deal with you. The advantage of the traditional system is that both the rule breaker and those who punished him paid an immediate personal price. People were much less likely to punish maliciously or casually because they had to pay up front for doing. In the socialist version, the individuals imposing the punishment on the rule breaker don’t pay anything. In fact, punishing rule breakers may actually give them power and wealth. There is no real feedback so they just keep punishing more and more for increasingly trivial offenses.

    I suspect in this particular case the real motivation for the powers that be was that Annica Eriksson’s skill demonstrated that administrators didn’t have that much control over the quality of the school food. If a single individual using the same resources, equipment and budget as others blows the doors off everyone else, that means that the determining factor in food quality is the cook and not the bureaucrats and politicians that design the school’s food programs. They don’t like being show to be largely irrelevant.

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