I want to start by referring you all to the Too Good page to read today’s featured item.
Sometimes I get the feeling that we’re all just a bunch of second graders, and the government is our kind, well-meaning (but rather dim-witted) teacher. We are all just a bunch of rowdy children, who don’t know what’s best for ourselves, and therefore need some older, smarter person to help us make the right decisions. The last time I checked, though, *most* of us get beyond needing that guidance and eventually mature into adults that have the liberty to make our own decisions–be they good or bad.
I have a very real fear that slowly, microscopically, we are losing these personal liberties with each new helmet law, smoking ban, or, yes, even hospital “policy” that comes about. Like the toad in the tepid pot of water, who doesn’t feel the water gradually getting hot until he’s been boiled alive, we too sometimes don’t realize the ramifications of certain government policies until we find ourselves locked into our cars, with the windows up, hastily puffing down that cigarette while worriedly looking over our shoulder to make sure someone doesn’t see us and turn us into the police. (FYI, I’m not a smoker, but simply feel for them.)
But smoking is terrible for you! It causes thousands of deaths each year! Well, I say, like the author in today’s article, so might ice cream. It’s terribly fattening, and it probably contributes to the high obesity rates in this country. Perhaps the government should step in and ban it, too. Seem far-fetched? They’re already banning all trans-fats in certain states, like NY and CA. Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby. Let’s ban formula. (And most of you should know that I’m not indifferent on this issue. I’m a La Leche League leader and “lactivist.”) To some vegetarians, meat is not only bad for you, it’s murder. Ban it. Being out in the sun causes skin cancer. Place heavy regulations on how long a person can go outside. Clipping your toenails too short can cause painful ingrown toenails. Come up with guidelines for proper clipping techniques, and hand out penalties if those guidelines are ignored. Create yet another government health program to impart the dangers of careless clipping.
But the main point I want to make is this: When will it stop? One could make all kinds of arguments about how good or bad something is. And to allow the government to continue to involve itself in these minute aspects of our lives is to gradually and perhaps unwittingly surrender a lot more of our personal freedoms than most of us would like. Again, for some of us, (who just happen to call ourselves conservatives or Republicans) more government is never the answer. Government programs sound good, but really, have they ever really worked? Perhaps we should let the market decide. If the consumer doesn’t want to go to a bar or restaurant with smoking allowed, go to the new restaurant on the corner that has privately decided to be smoke-free. Perhaps that restaurant will get more business and other restaurants will follow suit. If the consumer increasingly desires fresh organic foods, then perhaps more grocery stores will offer those items. But I must posit that government intervention here would just be stupid. I don’t need the government telling me how to live my life, thank you very much. And neither do you. The last I checked, this type of heavy-handed guidance stopped being a necessity soon after nap time and snack break came to an end.
Can’t we just get some common sense?