Two terrific pieces from across the Pond:

"If everything is killing us, why do we live so long?"

Every day, it seems, new warnings of a looming health disaster emerge in Negative Britain. The scale of imperilment is truly spectacular.

Mass obesity, rampant anorexia, drug addiction, drug shortages, NHS super bugs, junk food, salt poisoning, sugar dependency, sexual diseases, sexual impotence.

Chronic stress, passive smoking, alcohol abuse, carbohydrate overload, the Atkins diet; too few vitamins, vitamin pollution, fruit deficiency, factory farming.

Insomnia, night starvation, vicious sun beds, mobile phones that fry our brains, carcinogenic wrinkle creams, E numbers and, according to Mary Creagh, MP for Wakefield, killer domestic baths with no thermostats.

Wow! Call me paranoid but living in this half of the country feels like a stroll through a minefield in hobnail boots. I'm still in shock after reading on the internet that "Cheese is the Devil's Plaything". . . .

In 1900, the average life expectancy of a newborn British male was 56 years. By 2000, it had risen to 76 years. For women, it was even higher, 80 years. And since the turn of the millennium, life expectancy for both sexes in Positive Britain has improved further still. . . .

. . . if sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll are bad for us, why is Keith Richards still alive?

And the astonishingly good Theordore Dalrymple slams the governments of both France and the U.K.:

We have no reason to condescend to the French, however, for the British are in fundamentally the same boat, with a few extra problems of our own. The vast and fraudulent expansion of tertiary education, which leaves students indebted for their own useless education, is merely a means by which the Government disguises youth unemployment and keeps young people off the streets. Contrary to government propaganda, unemployment is not low in Britain: but it is now called sickness.

Our economy is corruptly creating public service jobs — endless co-ordinators of facilitation and facilitators of co-ordination — but not many in the private sector, the only true measure of economic health and growth. Any fool can create public sector jobs, and Mr Brown has done so: but not even the most brilliant man can make them economically productive in the long term. . . .

We should have paid attention instead to the wise words of Benjamin Franklin that apply as much to economics as to politics. He who gives up freedom for security, he said, will end up with neither.