By Ed Fulginiti
“As a kid growing up, I remember touch football games in the street…and nobody I knew was ever hit by a car. I recall playing atop heaps of landfill at what was then called the city dump…and none of us was ever sicker than the average child. I used to routinely ride perilously perched atop the handlebars of my uncle’s bicycle through the streets of Philadelphia. I hopped my fair share of moving trains. Ate too much candy, drank too many sodas and snuck into the side doors of cinemas whenever I thought I could.
And what’s the point of this confession?
Well, it strikes me I learned early on in life that the actions we take reap the consequences we get — sometimes unfairly, sometimes with little or no logic. I suspect by now I should rightly be dead for all the indiscretions I’ve made, but I’m not. Rather, I did what I did and like most people I know, let the chips fall where they may. C’est la vie.
That’s like most seniors’ I know. We’re a pretty hardy lot who have led life to the max and sometimes marvel that we’re still here to rue the actions of our children or grandchildren (who we suspect are involved in more mischief than we’d care to imagine!).
Here’s my point. Every time I read another item about what someone else thinks is in my best interest — or goes to great lengths to limit what is rightfully none of their business, I want to scream.
Do I know too many Wendy’s cheeseburgers may not be in the best interest of my health? Yep, I do. So I limit their intake to a point that satisfies me — beyond which I’ll bear the fruits of too many calories or too rich a blood-sugar content or too high a pumping heart rate. And as my kid says, ‘my bad’ for such recklessness.
Much the same applies to smoking or drinking alcohol or cleaning my pistol.
I don’t need food cops or the anti-gun lobby or Ralph Nader’s various splinter groups telling me they know what’s best. Too much ice cream, I’m going to get fat. Buy an SUV, it may roll over. Bounce incorrectly on my backyard trampoline and I may break my neck. These are risks I’m well aware of. I make them as a free choice and suffer the consequences, if any. This sort of thing is what I’ve been doing my entire life as have most seniors’ I’ve met.
I fear what is really at play here is the nanny state only too willing to meet trial lawyers half way now that the tobacco manufacturers have been largely neutered. Next, my friend, is obesity. Twinkie cops loom just over the horizon. America’s children may be an overweight bunch, but I don’t want to see perfectly legitimate vending machines removed from school cafeterias or the recipe for a favorite — Oreo cookies — become altered to the consistency and flavor of cardboard. My McDonald’s French fries already taste less for this sort of thing.
Government does not always know best. Seniors know this. We’re a fairly robust lot that appreciates the God-given right to make up our own minds. Now there’s some diversity for you! But so long as someone else thinks they know better — or is tempted by greed for a huge payday by depriving me the choice to do what I believe only serves, at worst, to put myself at risk and no one else, that’s the day I put my aging foot down and say, ‘bug off!’
Now you’ll excuse me…I have to lace up my Nike’s and go for a jog. Gee, I wonder if I suffer a heart attack, can I sue the shoe company for my irresponsible exercise?
Mr. Fulginiti is Communications Director of The 60 Plus Association, a 10-year old nonpartisan group with a less government, less taxes approach to seniors’ issues.