Sunday, June 14, 2009

Won't someone protect us from the wee fishes?

I think there was a footnote somewhere in Locke about how the point of having government wasn't really to have an impartial arbitrator who could resolve disputes and enforce judgments but rather to make sure that we'd not have fish-based pedicures.
Until Mr. Ho brought his skin-eating fish here from China last year, no salon in the U.S. had been publicly known to employ a live animal in the exfoliation of feet. The novelty factor was such that Mr. Ho became a minor celebrity. On "Good Morning America" in July, Diane Sawyer placed her feet in a tank supplied by Mr. Ho and compared the fish nibbles to "tiny little delicate kisses."

Since then, cosmetology regulators have taken a less flattering view, insisting fish pedicures are unsanitary. At least 14 states, including Texas and Florida, have outlawed them. Virginia doesn't see a problem. Ohio permitted fish pedicures after a review, and other states haven't yet made up their minds. The world of foot care, meanwhile, has been plunged into a piscine uproar. Salon owners who bought fish and tanks before the bans were imposed in their states are fuming.

The issue: cosmetology regulations generally mandate that tools need to be discarded or sanitized after each use. But epidermis-eating fish are too expensive to throw away. "And there's no way to sanitize them unless you bake them for 20 minutes at 350 degrees," says Lynda Elliott, an official with the New Hampshire Board of Barbering, Cosmetology and Esthetics. The board outlawed fish pedicures in November.
The New Hampshire Board of Barbering, Cosmetology and Esthetics?! The fish ban is currently front-page news on their website. The State Motto is curiously missing. Wonder why.

Sometimes, moral panics explain ridiculous regulations. Sometimes, collusion between a cartel of regulated firms and the regulatory agency explains ridiculous regulations. And sometimes we just have Vogons running things. On no account should you allow a member of the New Hampshire Board of Barbering, Cosmetology and Esthetics to read poetry to you.

HT: Book of Joe.

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