The Babyproofed Society: The Urge to Eliminate Risk From American Life

Mike Coté

Mike Coté is a writer and podcaster focusing on history, Great Power rivalry, and geopolitics. He has a Master’s degree in European history, writing his thesis on the Anglo-German economic and strategic rivalry before World War I. He blogs at his own site, hosts the Rational Policy podcast, and can be found on Twitter @ratlpolicy.

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35 Responses

  1. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Thudguard, a protective helmet for infants, is available from Amazon for a mere $39.95.

    “Forty bucks is a lot!”, you may say.
    How much is peace of mind worth?Report

    • Slade the Leveller in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      This would be a purchase for a first time parent. Once you learn just how nearly indestructible kids are from random accidents this kind of stuff goes right out the window.Report

    • Greg In Ak in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      For kids with developmental delays or various physical problems this would be a must have. For typical kids it would be overkill (lol) but this has wise uses.Report

  2. Philip H
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    says:

    So reading this, I guess you think seatbelts infringe on liberty? Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets infringe liberty? temperature limiters on hot water heaters infringe on liberty?

    Progressives aren’t animated by safety. We actually want people to be free to pursue their dreams. But we see the climate crisis as a huge impingement on personal liberty, as we asthma and other pollution created chronic health conditions. For that matter we see a lot of unfettered free market actions as anathema to liberty – you aren’t free when you can’t feed your children or have to choose between food and medical care.

    Personal risk and reward and responsibility won’t address any of those systemic challenges. That leaves systems, and our economic system remains willfully unwilling to price long range environmental impacts accordingly. Look at California – in the name of economic freedom we allowed a lot of people to build homes and businesses in flood zones, and now that the climate crisis has advanced past a certain point, those places have flooded catastrophically. Insurance will pick up the pieces for them – in a privately held insurance industry, and building will expand. Because NOT progressives in a capitalist economy have told them it should be this way.Report

  3. InMD
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    says:

    I think there’s a lot of tilting at abstractions going on here. The core question about these stoves should really be danger to utility. The criticism (rightly) stems from the fact that whatever danger they may entail is not particularly well established and the utility is really, really high. But the argument wouldn’t be so crazy if, say 1 out of 100 or even 1 out of 10,000 exploded and burned down the house in which it was otherwise properly installed. My point is that the facts are a lot more relevant than some higher principle or America’s foundational ideals or whatever.Report

  4. Slade the Leveller
    Ignored
    says:

    Shall we recall too big to fail?Report

  5. Chip Daniels
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    says:

    Is this a rebuttal to the “Don’t be a ‘These Kids Today’ Conservative” essay?Report

  6. Philip H
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    says:

    So tell me, is Ron DeSantis a secret safety loving progressive who wants to protect business owners from the risk of their decisions? Because one could certainly read this latest legislative gambit that way:

    The proposal would permanently prohibit Covid-19 vaccine passports in Florida, prohibit Florida schools from instituting Covid-19 vaccine or mask requirements, forbid businesses in the state from requiring masks and bar “employers from hiring or firing based on mRNA jabs.”

    https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/18/politics/desantis-covid-policy-florida/index.htmlReport

  7. LeeEsq
    Ignored
    says:

    Nearly every other developed democracy has a much more interventionist government when it comes to safety measures among other things and they do just fine. Articles like this is why Americans tolerate tens of thousands of deaths by car accidents and who know how many minor and serious injuries a year. A lot of the statistics that Americans just shrug off would be seen as a big societal failure in every other developed democracy.Report

    • Philip H in reply to LeeEsq
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      says:

      But America is exceptional! The OP said so! Clearly those other countries can’t tell us anything!Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Philip H
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        says:

        The OP is probably younger than I am. Lately, I have been having a hard time groking conservatives around my age and younger because it feels like we might as well have grown up on different planets. I don’t agree with McCarthy’s conservatism but I can somewhere see where it is coming from. He was 15 years old in 1980, this is old enough to be a youth for Reagan/Alex B. Keaton type. There were a lot of economic failures that could be somewhat attributed to old leftist orthodoxy in the 1970s. But younger conservatives feel so out of step with their generation that it is just strange.

        I would say that most of the people I know, most of us liberals, are proud Americans. None of us use the America is exceptional language or concept.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw
          Ignored
          says:

          We would listen to Cheech & Chong records in the 70s and they would often have routines where Cheech would play the old fart against Chongs smart-ass stoner.

          It’s as if people like Charlie Kirk listened to those and thought “Man, that old dude sounds cool! He really knows what’s hip! And that Archie Bunker- What a wise sage!”Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq
      Ignored
      says:

      The most common error is to overlook the connection between prosperity and safety, and how one relies upon the other.

      Like, how much more wealth is generated by the real estate sector now that catastrophic building fires and collapses are not common? How much more wealth and GDP is generated by a workforce not hobbled by injury and premature death?

      And so on.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels
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        says:

        America seems to produce a larger percentage of the population that wants to live wildly and chafes at safety restrictions than other developed democracies. Proud dysfunctonalism is a thing everywhere but America has a high number of cases of it.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq
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          says:

          It would almost be admirable if these people actually were the stoic tough pioneers they imagine themselves to be.

          But history shows they are the very first to line up for public assistance the moment things get difficult.Report

  8. Greg In Ak
    Ignored
    says:

    This is among many things a example of partisanship. You aren’t wrong about some of liberal desires for safety. But the desire for safety is society wide. Conservative hunters who only eat what they kill will tell you how healthy their meat is and safer then store bought meat. Going to a good evangelical church is more protective and healthier.

    Now you could say those are personal things not governmental. But the LOUD drive from the pro gun side is that open public carry is vital for safety. Which they have pushed the laws to recognize.

    You are correct or wrong based on the actual specific issue. Some things are good for gov to do and some aren’t. Some should be left up to individuals and some are better done by gov at the fed, state or local level depending on the situation.

    FAA- big win for Fed oversight and i’m pretty sure we all like air travel being very safe.
    Gas stoves- meh. Probably nothing to reg though i admit i haven’t read much. Most likely just for each person to figure out.
    Food- eat whatever the hell you want. Gov should do basic food safety.Report

  9. Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    I presume if the NYT had suddenly started an unanimous, no-dissent-tolerated campaign against gas burners that would have been bad too. But I read here that expressing different opinions and ideas is ALSO bad because the Times’ message is incoherent from one day to the next.Report

  10. Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    Yeah, I just don’t get the number of Americans who have huge bugbears about safety regulations which are common in every other democracy/developed nation. It is like a huge temper tantrum based on outdated ideals of yeomanry. The same Americans would probably die quickly if actually placed in the wildnerness away from SUVs and Publix.Report

  11. Rufus F.
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    says:

    I think maybe the desire to have politics add grandeur to life by filling all aspects of existence is, in itself, totalitarian, regardless of actual party affiliation.Report

  12. DensityDuck
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    says:

    Honestly what bugged me was the number of people who apparently had always had very strong opinions about the air-quality implications of residential gas appliances but just never talked about it before January 9th 2023.Report

  13. Pat
    Ignored
    says:

    Just want to note that there is no proposal anywhere by the CPSC to ban gas stoves, the first assertion in this piece.Report

    • KenB in reply to Pat
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      says:

      No “official” proposal, but a CPSC commissioner did float the idea, the CPSC
      chair did say that there’s a planned information-gathering effort, and there’s plenty of political pressure for a ban (see e.g this NBC News story). Absent any pushback, it would hardly have been surprising to see an official proposal to ban them in new construction in the near future, and it could still happen. Totally reasonable for anyone who’s opposed to such a ban to be reacting to the story.Report

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