Democracy, you make fools of us all. Did you throw back your ringleted hair in laughter when Athens cast itself for all-consuming war with Sparta? Did it cross your changeable mind to intercede in the trial of Socrates? Were you sunk stone-drunk into a bed of silk cushions when Rubicon-crossing Caesar cast you into centuries’ abeyance?
Democracy, you make fools of us all.
Did you throw back your ringleted hair in laughter when Athens cast itself for all-consuming war with Sparta? Did it cross your changeable mind to intercede in the trial of Socrates? Were you sunk stone-drunk into a bed of silk cushions when Rubicon-crossing Caesar cast you into centuries’ abeyance?
It was your idea of a good joke to call every black individual three-fifths of a white man when our powder-faced forefathers composed the Constitution. And to toss pitiful Wyoming as many senators as California—a riot! Or making nine geriatric Harvard Law graduates the final word of the law—the corporate personhood travesty is your sniggering gift.
Adding insult to injury is the ballot initiative. Why not throw the greatest questions of public policy to those who are least informed? Mutual pursuit of self-interest’s path can’t end at a cliff.
Lower my taxes! Defund the schools! Shutter the asylums and lock up the loonies!
Let the poor kids’ teeth rot!
I’ll just shuttle my progeny to the orthodontist in the backseat of my Prius for elective cosmetic surgery.
Portland, you could have done the right thing and swallowed a mildly bitter pill in pursuit of the greater good. It’s not so much an effort to spike the public water supply with several parts per million of fluoridated industrial byproduct—the benefits are well established. Our newly mineral-laden saliva would ward off incipient cavities; families would save money on their kids’ dental bills; spending on tooth care would broadly decline.
It would have been a good thing.
Instead, you let yourselves be led by the gut-thumping timbre of swell-sounding pseudoscience that was totally unobjectionable in everything except for its facts.
Or, one should say, lack thereof.
The positive correlation between the presence of fluoridated water and a reduced incidence of cavities and tooth decay in a given population is strongly supported by current evidence.
The poor, who may not have reliable access to quality dental care and are less likely to use fluoridated toothpaste, especially stand to benefit from fluoridation. And the practice’s only demonstrable negative side effect is a relatively innocuous condition called dental fluorosis.
Better a little extra sparkle in your smile than a gummy red gap.
Let’s not even mention the creepy cryptofascist Cold Warrior foundations of the anti-fluoride movement: The anti-fluoride folks simply had no ground to stand on. Rather, they chose to gloss over fluoride’s proven benefits and attack it on the specious premise that “chemicals are bad.”
We may concede that there are a host of dangerous chemicals that are better left out of our tap water: DDT nearly wiped out the bald eagle and hydrofluorocarbons poked an Antarctica-sized hole in the ozone layer.
But not all chemicals are such life-threatening downers. In fact, there are many compounds without which we could scarcely imagine life on this planet.
Hear me: Portlanders are uniquely in the grip of chemical dependence.
When you push down the plunger on your hot French-pressed brew in the morning and pour forth the sweet coffea arabica manna into the pit of your gut, you can thank caffeine for that hot rush of gladness.
Or take the knock-back giggly giddiness of tetrahydrocannabinol—smoking sinsemilla is the Portlander’s favorite after-school activity. And how many prescriptions of Celexa do Portland psychiatrists dump annually on their drizzle-stricken charges?
Need I even mention alcohol? The soused state of Oregon has made brewer’s yeast its official microbe.
Let us face it: Portlanders are the nation’s foremost exponents of the late-capitalist credo of better living through chemistry.
If history is any guide, in another 10 years’ time this city will again face the divisive decision of whether to inoculate itself against the life-sapping specter of tooth decay by adding to its water a manifestly innocuous chemical. And when this time comes, I implore you to vote yea. It’s no secret that chemicals are indeed our best of friends.
But let’s not leave it at fluoride! I envision a sun-soaked future in which not only fluoride, but also other such patently beneficial compounds as human growth hormone, testosterone, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, neurotropic cognitive enhancers, Adderall and Viagra come flowing out of our taps in a potent cocktail of positive energy.
The resulting boost to productivity would pump up the city’s economy, attract much-needed outside investment and further enhance Portland’s reputation as an international cultural destination. And it would give a much-needed kick in the ass to the sluggish yoga mom cyclist towing her particolored toddler-trailer over the Hawthorne Bridge.
People, don’t leave me hanging in her dust: Give us all a shot of tap water stimulation.
It all starts with fluoride.