Higgins: Womb stateWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For some years now, many of us have complained that the government has become little more a “Nanny State”, seeking to protect us through law and regulation from any real or imagined harm that might come our way in life. The level of this protection however, long ago reached a level of unacceptable obtrusiveness in our daily lives. It seemed that for every problem in life there is a now a government answer.
Having exceeded every reasonable concept of protection, government went on to create a bubble around citizens, attempting now to prevent every skinned knee and scraped elbow. If you couldn’t read the warning message on the cigarette pack, they’ll replace it with a bigger one with a scary picture of a skull and crossbones or a diseased lung to convince you of the danger. If you don’t understand that coffee is served hot, we’ll pass a law to mandate temperature and put a label on that too. In fact, we’ll put labels on all food, since you appear incapable of understanding that a triple cheeseburger and super-sized fries might be bad for you.
If you didn’t understand that there’s a law against and a danger in operating an automobile while distracted by other things don’t worry, we’ll pass another law against driving while talking or texting on a phone, and follow that with laws about putting on make-up, shaving, or rooting for the last French fries from your lunch while doing 70 miles an hour.
Citizens have reacted to this increasing government protection racket from personal responsibility by following suit. They doubled down in some demented form of social anti-Darwinism in which competition itself would be deemed unfit. We could no longer reward success in any field of endeavor, when protecting participants had become the goal. Trophies for accomplishment became those of participation instead, for fear of the consequences in picking winners and losers. Grades were dropped by many schools as a measure of success in favor of simple acknowledgment of assimilating the material presented. Rewarding the academic prowess of children didn’t protect all and might damage the self-esteem of those perhaps less gifted.
Eventually even the functioning of government itself fell prey to this, morphing from two competing sides coming together occasionally to find common ground and work toward the common good, to some cowardly form of compromise where one side or the other surrenders its principles in the name of a tainted political expediency. Citizens apparently even need to be protected from competing ideas or even the any heated political debate of them.
This lifelong “safety net” that the government was providing became known as “Womb to Tomb” protection for its citizens, and even that has since proved insufficient. We now appear to be surrounded by a massive federal bureaucracy and an ever-growing list of laws and regulations whose point is little more than preventing us from entering life’s birth canal in the first place, lest we be exposed to its vicissitudes. It seems that we will only now be considered “government safe” if we are kept in a warm, quiet and protected place so that nothing bad in life might befall us.
New York City has long shown us the way in this, creating laws where you not only can’t smoke in restaurants, but in public parks. They were ahead in banning the use of unhealthy trans-fats for cooking in restaurants. In a bold move, NYC once more shows the way by creating new sensitivity guidelines for standardized tests, and has banned some 50 words that might be seen as “unpleasant”. Not surprisingly, the list includes such words as “sex,” “slavery” and “bodily functions.” While some may see little effect on classroom discussions, others may find “alcohol,” “cigarettes,” “junk food,” and “death and disease” on the list as unnecessary ones for topical discussion or testing use. Still others might look at the list and wonder why “birthdays,” “crime,” “poverty,” and “expensive gifts or vacations” are banned subjects for tests. Personally, I wonder about the value of any education today in which the words “nuclear weapons,” “poverty,” “politics,” and war and bloodshed” cannot be used on a standardized test.
But as New York City takes this one small step, society seems once again prepared to take a giant leap in the disconnect between education and real life. While the world becomes an ever more dangerous place to live in, government continues attempting to protect us not only from its evils, but even from the words that describe them. While the world cries out for those who can to compete to make things better, ours will remain protected in this new “womb state,” safe from a reality that apparently none but government is capable of dealing with.