I live in Manchester, England. It’s a unique city. Apart from hosting one of the most famous football teams in the world, and having one of the dampest climates, (although Seattle is worse, apparently), it also has one of the strangest attributes in the country: it has clean water. No fluoride has been added. As most people know, fluoride is a rare metal that is hard to find in nature, but since the 1960s British families have been entertaining it every day – in the water that they drink from the tap.

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Fluoride is a poison. You’re not advised to take a bottle of it and swallow it, you’d die. However, in small doses, it’s claimed that it has a rare property: it can save your teeth from decay. Research has shown, or so it is claimed, that small quantities of fluoride in the water that we drink can strengthen the enamel in our teeth and prevent the formation of cavities. Since English children have some of the worst teeth in the world, anything that can help to prevent further decay is seen as a good thing, no matter how outlandish. Because of course, it’s a strange plan. Here’s the proposition: we will add something to your water that is in itself a hazard, but it will avoid an even worse problem, tooth decay. Who could possibly vote against that? Manchester did. They’ve kept the water free of this metallic additive for almost two generations, while the rest of the ground has lapped it up, literally. There’s been mixed results dmt for sale.

In the first place, levels of tooth decay in children are uncomfortably high. Why is that? Are children in Manchester bad at cleaning their teeth? Don’t they realise the benefits of flossing? Well, that may be so, but not for want of trying. School nurses regularly lecture the kids on the best way of using a toothbrush, and if you go into any primary school in the city, you will see posters and pictures on the wall of healthy teeth – the aim, after all. Maybe there’s another reason: good advice, in itself, doesn’t work. That’s certainly been the attitude in other parts of the country. We don’t want people to have rotten teeth, they say, so we’re going to add fluoride to the water and the amount of fillings will go down, whether people want that or that. Of course they want that, you say! It’s obvious! But no, that’s not obvious. If you, or any member of your family wanted to avoid losing your teeth, the answer is glaring, right in front of your nose: eat less sweets and chocolate, and brush and clean more regularly. Why don’t people do that? They say they will, they promise they will, they even resolve to do that, every New Year, when they make Resolutions for the coming twelve months. But just like plans to go to the gym, and great ideas about giving up other self-destructive habits, the common behaviour is that all the good intentions fall by the wayside and the bad habits, and unhealthy ways of life, spring back to the fore in the Spring.

Fluoridation is a good example of doing something FOR people, even though, in a logical world, they wouldn’t need it. Because, as every parent knows, there are alternatives. If you agree that fluoride is good for you, you can buy toothpaste with it built-in. You can then apply the potential benefits directly to where it is needed, in your mouth, without involving anyone else in your health binge. No, we can’t seem to simply do that. Somehow we know that eating sweet things is bad for us, but we still do it. We know that brushing and flossing is good for our teeth, but we don’t do it. So someone, in this case Local Government, steps in and says, Right, we can’t trust you to do the right thing. We’re going to have to do it for you, (and take the decision out of your hands). We’ll add the stuff to water, so you can’t avoid it. You will now get the health benefits, (whether you would choose to have them or not). Yep, that’s a great way of treating people like children, and forcing ‘good behaviour’ onto the population, despite all the efforts we make every day to transform ourselves into overweight, unhealthy, ugly and toothless.

The biggest consequence is that this sort of overbearing authority removes consequences from people’s lives. In a logical world it would be simple: you eat sweet things, your teeth fall out. Now it’s up to you. You choose. You eat those candy bars, you’ll get false teeth. Your choice. In our topsy-turvey world, it’s all different. Oops, you’re eating that bad stuff. Well, we don’t want to step in and interfere with your decisions. You’ve decided to eat it, (despite our good advice), and we can’t stop you. Aah, but we can add stuff to the water you drink. That’ll cure you, whether you change your way of life, or not. You WILL be healthy.

It’s a dangerous step. Once you’ve added some ‘medicine’ to the water supply, there’s a precedent for finding reasons to add more, and more. In the 1960s some people thought it would be a good idea to add LSD to the reservoirs, because, hey man, we’re all too buttoned up. Let’s hang loose, baby. Uh, no, we disagreed with those wild hippies, at the time, and since. But in our modern world, there are terrorists trying to add poison to our water too, because they see it as a good way to persuade our governments to follow their manifesto. That seems outrageous, until you realise that the existing water isn’t pure anyway, is it? It’s already been tampered with, in the name of making us better citizens. The terrorists are perhaps merely following an example set by our very own leaders.

It’s a fluid situation. People will always do the unexpected, and then, leave the experts confounded. In recent years, people with lots of money and no sense, have been paying over the odds for bottled water, convinced by advertising that tells them that what’s in the plastic bottle will do them a whole world of good. Well, maybe the fluid has been ‘filtered by volcanoes’ or ‘bottled at source’, (which means it’s full of minerals, apparently), but the important thing is that it isn’t tap water. Despite what all the medicators have been trying to do, they have been fooled by the ultimate put-down: fashion. Suddenly, it’s just not cool to be seen drinking water out of the tap – no matter how good it is for you – and sucking out of a plastic teat is now all the rage in our modern world. Bad luck, legislators. You’re just going to have to find some new way to do people good. They simply aren’t downing the medicated water supplies you’ve prescribed for them. Who could have predicted that?