AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME
Thanks to living in a litigious society, we now have warnings posted for virtually all drugs – “Warning: May cause dizziness” – “Warning: May cause drowsiness” – “Warning: Do not operate heavy machinery while taking this drug”. We’ve all seen them – on our aspirin bottles, on our cough medicine, even on our wine bottles, and of course, on the cigarette packages. In addition, there are warnings on our clothing, on our mini-blinds, on our stepladders, for heaven’s sake.
My thought is: Why stop there? Why don’t we have warnings, for example, on all the fast food we consume? How about a label on those fries, for example: “May cause hardening of the arteries”, on fried chicken it might read, “Caution: Wash hands and face thoroughly after consuming. May cause acne breakouts”.
For eggs, there should be a label that reads, “In spite of our best efforts, these eggs may contain salmonella. Good luck!” How about a warning on all chocolate products: “Contains caffeine. May be habit-forming”. A warning on white potatoes might read, “Caution: High glycemic index”, or “High Carb Content”. (A lot of stuff would fall into that category). A warning on carrots: “High Beta Carotene Content: Excessive use may cause yellowing of the skin”. For beans, I think less is more: “May cause embarrassment”. Certainly a warning on coffee is long past overdue: “May cause jitters”.
At the entrance to every bank these words should be inscribed: “Not responsible for rising interest rates, falling interest rates, or the national debt”, and “Not responsible for your bone-headed decision to borrow more than you can afford to pay back”.
And while we’re at it – Let’s put caveats on some less tangible items. Let’s put a warning sign at the front door of every pet emporium: “Caution: Adoption may cause excessive attachment and resultant heartbreak”.
Every marriage chapel in Las Vegas should have the following inscription: “Marry in haste, repent at leisure”.
All of these warnings, of course, assume that we have all lost our ability to use common sense. Maybe we have. Judging by some of the lawsuits you read about, it would certainly seem that way.
At the same time, we need only read the headlines to know that the corporate big shots are not above hiding the truth from consumers. We know that in spite of research that showed a popular arthritis drug carried increased risk of stroke and heart attack, the drug company managed to keep that information to itself for a long time.
So, it’s confusing. There is plenty of blame to go around. We are all guilty of wishful thinking. Consumers don’t want to think that the yummy burger they have for lunch every day will add inches to their waistline and take years off their life. Drug companies don’t want to think that the lucrative panacea they’ve just spent years inventing might have a teensy tendency to destroy the cardiovascular system.
All in all, I’d say that we all need to be warned – constantly. It’s an idea whose time has come.
© 2005, Robin Munson