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The GOS has been reading a new book by Simon Carr, author of "The Gripes of Wrath". It's called "Sour Gripes", and it's about the excesses of the modern compensation culture.
 
The spread of the litigious society from America has led to the creation of a huge and stifling Health and Safety industry which pokes its tentacles into every corner of our activities, at work, at home and at play. It has allowed unscrupulous people to get rich as a result of accidents they have (or, in some cases, have not) sustained. It prevents the emergency services from doing their jobs properly, it interferes with our hobbies, and it has led to ridiculous and in some cases dangerous situations
 
• Nursery schools have to get a parent's permission to put a plaster on a child's graze
• The emergency services at the Hillsborough disaster got more in compensation for "stress" than the victims and relatives of the dead - despite the fact that it was the police that caused the disaster in the first place
• Some cities spend more on compensating people who trip on pavements than they do on fixing the pavements
• After a shooting at Henley in 2004, police and ambulance men stood by and let three women bleed to death while they carried out a "risk assessment" to see if it was safe for them to enter the house, despite the desperate pleas of the neighbours who were trying to apply first-aid to the victims
• Staff at the English National Opera are no longer allowed to use the word "darling" at work (a bit tough if your name happens to be, for instance, Stephen Darling!)
• An Ontario woman won $300,000 damages from her employers after she got drunk at an office party and crashed her car, despite the fact that the company had offered her a taxi or a hotel room if she surrendered her car keys
•"Whiplash" accounts for 85% of all injuries in British road accidents. In countries where compensation for "whiplash" isn't available, the condition is almost unheard of
• Schools have banned conkers, snowballs, playground ball games, rubber bands, pencil cases, egg cartons, fairy cakes, skipping ropes, sun-cream and swimming goggles
• A speeding policeman who caused a crash that killed a woman passenger in another car won 87,000 for "stress". The woman's husband got 16,000

 
and needless to say, the chapter detailing some abuses of the system in the US just beggars belief!
 
Despite this catalogue of the annoying, the ludicrous and the appalling, "Sour Gripes" is not just a collection of sensational press cuttings. Simon Carr is a journalist, and he discusses the various issues in a plain, common-sense manner - and draws some conclusions which will ring a bell with most of his readers.
 
The GOS thoroughly recommends this fascinating book. It's cheap, too. You can buy it here.
 

 
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