As of June, 2011, the United States of America is still a free country. As long as you operate within the parameters of laws and ordinances meant to preserve public order, you can pretty much do whatever you want. You can choose your own profession, your own hobbies, where to live, what movies to watch, what brand of humor to laugh at and what to eat and drink.
I’m not aware of any law that explicitly forbids you to willingly eat toxic waste and wash it down with a cocktail of battery acid and pesticide. That would be suicidal, as long as you were aware that drinking it was severely life-threatening. There is, of course, a law against suicide, but that only begs the question: “How do you come up with a punishment to fit that crime?”
You can eat and drink whatever you want, but the greatest impediment to your wanting to drink things like battery acid or pesticide is not a backlog of scientific findings by chemists, firmly establishing the extreme dangers of introducing highly corrosive acids into the human body. That scientific discovery and many others were eventually absorbed by the consciousness of the public at large and became incorporated into a very useful faculty known as common sense.
As pertains to all matters of human life, it would be hard to overstate the crucial role common sense plays in ensuring a beneficial outcome to pursuits of every kind. Common sense is why we don’t leave banana peels in the middle of the kitchen floor. It’s why we don’t look down the barrels of guns that may or may not be loaded, then pull the trigger – just to make sure. It’s why we don’t jump out of an airplane wearing a parachute pack that doesn’t actually have a working parachute packed in it.
I know what you’re thinking: “People actually have done all those things.” Unfortunately, you are correct – they have indeed. We can only hope that a residual effect of news reports relating details of these inopportune calamities is a decline in the occurrence of similar disasters.
It comes down to this: Common sense didn’t get it’s name because absolutely everyone came into the world stocked with a generous supply of the stuff; it got its name simply because it doesn’t come as a complete shock to find that many people you meet actually have some of it.
But what is to be done about people who—though they’re equipped with a respectable supply of common sense—have neither the specialized training or the free time to derive enough specialized knowledge of a given issue to form a carefully considered, fact-based opinion about it? Dorway’s answer is that we should try to help them by any means at our disposal. We should supply them with ample amounts of unbiased information (not including our editorials, of course!) on which to base their decisions – scrupulously obtained, scientifically accurate information that is uncorrupted by market forces—forces allied with political/corporate influence brokers who are for sale to the highest bidder.
It is an ironic reality of life that people who lack common sense are putty in the hands of unscrupulous market forces—partly because their lack of common sense deprives them of the very capacity necessary for recognizing their deficiency. Moreover, they are easy targets who frequently disregard warnings intended to ward them off harmful substances. As for those people who don’t really have a care for anything but the dragon they’re chasing, they just turn away from all reliable information that muddies up their particular instant gratification fix and regard it as an annoying buzz-kill.
Don’t think the Captains of Industry reaping untold billions from the sale of aspartame, cigarettes, alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs (to name just a few) are unaware of the willingness of some people to pay through the nose to destroy their own health and put themselves to an untimely end. Make no mistake: Nothing is more profitable to Corporate America than the monkeys on American’s backs.
After all, who’s a more reliable source of windfall profits than the customer who can’t get through a single day without having to feed the monkey?