Switzerland ignited a very civilized -- if somewhat jittery -- outcry last week over its decision to stop stockpiling coffee beans as part of a century-old program to make sure that basic essentials of life can be made available to all Swiss folks in case of an emergency. Smithsonian magazine explains:
In the wake of World War I, Switzerland's government decided to stockpile enough essential items to sustain the country's citizens for three months. If the landlocked country faced severe shortages, the plan's creators reasoned, its residents would be able to survive on the rations. Today, writes BBC News' Imogen Foulkes, the list of staples earmarked for stockpiling includes fuel, fresh water, animal feed, medicine, sugar, flour, cooking oil, rice and—to the great satisfaction of Switzerland's caffeine-loving population—15,000 tons of coffee.
The Swiss government noticed that coffee has no real nutritional value, but came to the erroneous conclusion that means it's not an essential of life. Swiss people respectfully disagreed, and if they hadn't had their morning coffee, may have been somewhat less respectful. The government is now reconsidering the decision. Especially since a lack of coffee may constitute an emergency in itself.
Along similar lines, we would like to think that in these Hell Times, a regular supply of cat pictures, please, and other fluff may seem easy to dismiss, but nonetheless necessary for mental health. Or at least a welcome reminder that even in the deepening gloom, your dog is finally getting enough cheese.