The other day I had lunch with Nancy Nord, a former commissioner at the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Joining us was one of my personal heroes, Philip Howard. Here’s what Nancy wrote on her blog, Conversations with Consumers, a forum that doggedly points out the difference (and distance) between safety and paranoia. As a gal who has seen the Commission inside and out, she BELIEVES, as I think we all do, in keeping consumers safe. She does NOT believe in regulating nearly non-existent dangers. – L
PLAY AT YOUR OWN RISK by Nancy Nord
Recently I was up in New York and met with two insightful and smart people I want to introduce if you do not already know them. Phillip Howard is a lawyer, civic activist and the founder of an interesting organization, Common Good. Part of the mission of the organization is to get back to a place where citizens can take responsibility for making sensible choices: “Making choices for the common good is impossible if everyone is tied up in red tape. Reclaiming responsibility requires a basic shift — where law sets boundaries for free choice instead of dictating choices for the lowest common denominator… Common Good has developed practical solutions to bring reliability and balance to law in healthcare, education, and civil justice, as well as in areas such as children’s play…
With respect to this last item, the concern is that if all risk is taken out of play, our children will not be prepared for the risks that life inevitably throws at them as they mature. This brings me to the second person I want to introduce — Lenore Skenazy. Lenore is a journalist, mother, and the creator of Free Range Kids. The (tongue-in-cheek) purpose of Free Range Kids is to fight “the belief that our children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape. While Lenore’s writings are amusing, she does make the serious point that when the line between real and speculative risk becomes so blurred — which she contends is happening more and more — our children suffer as a result….
Lenore here: Contend that, I do! It’s great when folks in government, think tanks, and non-profits all recognize the same thing: In seeking to take absolutely ALL RISK out of life, we are making our country (and our kids) too safe to succeed. And that, by the way, is my new mantra: Too Safe to Succeed. – L.