After a stray dog—who my dad named Brown Dog— adopted our family it became my job to make sure he was fed. The first evening I fed the dog, I spooned the contents of a can into his dish and watched as he devoured his meal. He appeared to still be hungry, so I refilled the bowl and again the food rapidly disappeared. Thirty minutes later an overstuffed Brown Dog loudly deposited the undigested remains of his dinner at my dad’s feet.
My experience with Brown Dog taught me that dogs don’t possess good sense: put food in front of them and they will eat until they are ill. There are politicians who believe the same is true of us—we are not blessed with the intelligence to recognize what is good for us. Even worse, is the belief we are not endowed with self control to avoid unhealthy alternatives. In other words, there are politicians who are convinced, like dogs, we need to be cared for.
During a preteen birthday party at a friend’s home, several of us snuck off into an adjacent orange grove. When we were out of sight, the birthday boy lit a cigarette and dared us to take a “drag.” I didn’t want to appear to be a sissy, but I was frightened—I knew “smokes” were addictive and bad for you. I took a puff, manfully blew the smoke out and spent the rest of the day worried about becoming addicted to cigarettes.
In college I, like almost everyone, smoked—even during classes. Several years later after completing army basic training I smoked two packs of cigarettes a day. I was aware they were bad for me—heck we called them “coffin nails—it didn’t matter, I liked smoking. On my son’s six-month birthday, deciding I wanted to be with him as he grew up, I quit smoking.
Even though cigarette packs didn’t carry a warning and public service announcement and obnoxious anti-smoking television ads didn’t exist, we recognized smoking was bad for you. Why then the necessity to spend millions of dollars telling people what they already know? Because it enforces the appearance that politicians really care about their constituents and it satisfies a patronizing need to take care of people.
Supposedly, the cost to society of caring for those who persist in continuing bad habits is the reason behind regulating behavior. Actually, this is the rationalization for busybodies sticking their noses into other people’s business. Give me a break—unhealthy people die young; society will care for healthy people for many more years. I haven’t seen the studies but I have read that societal cost even up.
To avoid future generations becoming automatons looked after by a benevolent and elitist dictatorships, people, of every political stripe, should respond to attempts to limit personal freedom with“I’m not and I refuse to be treated like a dog.”