This morning I read a news article that started out:
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Some women in Springfield are regretting their decision last week to get a tattoo from a door-to-door tattoo salesman. link
Um. I think I would have seen that one coming. One of the biggest differences I noticed in Mexico was the fact that people expect to rely on their own good judgment. In the US I find people tend to think:
- If it is legal it is right.
- If it is for sale, it must be safe.
- If I’m not physically prevented from doing something it must be ok.
In the US if you are near a cliff there would be a rule that says you aren’t allowed to go near the edge. There would probably be a fence or other obstacle to keep you away from where it is considered dangerous. In Mexico, there would be no such rule. If you are lucky someone might say “you might want to avoid going near the edge of the cliff because it is slick and you might kill yourself”. In Mexico you are expected to think for yourself–if you do something dumb and get hurt it isn’t any one else’s fault. (At least that was my experience there.)
While I appreciate the extra safety in the US, I’m concerned that we’ve take away so much basic responsibility from people that they no longer feel the need to run things through even a basic level of safety checks. If someone shows up on your doorstep with homemade tattoo equipment and offers to give you a “great deal” something somewhere in your brain should sound a warning bell.
I suppose common sense is a difficult thing to teach, but I’m afraid our society is teaching people to how to ignore it.
I have to agree with you, and it is one of the things that shocked me when I went to the States.
You have safety labels everywhere even for the most stupid things! When I asked around why they were doing so, I was told that if they don’t do so, companies can get sued for almost anything nowadays and it is a way to cover their backs.
I have seen it coming slowly in Europe, but we are still very far from the level of disclaimer craziness that abounds in the USA. People here are still expected to think by themselves, and companies won’t take (almost) any responsibility for their customers lack of common sense.
I couldn’t agree more. There are rural areas in the US where people are on their own and can’t rely on there being a sign to warn them of every danger. But otherwise, we’ve managed to create a populace that has no common sense at all. If there’s not a law against turning around the rummage through the junk in the backseat while you’re driving full speed ahead, it must be fine to do!
We need fewer rules and regs and laws and more accountability.
Shawn Levasseur says
In the Libertarian movement we have a phrase for this. It’s called “The Cult of the Omnipotent State”.
Mark Shead says
I saw a quote once that went something like this:
That is probably a bit extreme. I don’t think warning labels are the cause of the problems. I think we teach people that they aren’t responsible for their own actions–like passing kids on to the next grade so they don’t feel bad about their failure. Sometimes it is actually good to suffer the consequences of your actions. That is how you learn.
Hopefully the next time someone shows up on these ladies doorsteps offering cheap tattoos, they will think twice.
Ariane Benefit, Neat & Simple Living says
Mark, if the situation wasn’t so sad, it would be really funny! We have so much work to do as a culture to get back in touch with reality. Thanks for sharing these free quotes!
It is the crazy litigation culture that has partially lead to this. I mean anomalous craziness like the burglar that sued a family for falling over the shoes on their stairs and *won*! That is just plain nuts…
I know that as a kid, I learned the hard way what Tobasco sauce was, when my parents gave in (after I made a fuss about them having something I was not allowed) and let me grab the bottle… Glug, glug… Screeeeam… But sheesh – I really *learned* why they would not give it to me before. The West will become Nations of dumbed down wingers without learning a few hard lessons from time to time.