The US Postal Service will destroy an entire print run of new stamps because they apparently encourage unsafe behavior in children. The “Just Move” collection of stamps was commissioned to encourage juvenile philatelists (wherever they may be) to exercise. These stamps depict young people engaging in all sorts of healthful activities like biking, skateboarding, swimming, and running.
The well-meaning stamp collection came under fire when Michelle Obama, outspoken about her interest in children’s health, was asked to be involved in promoting them. Things went south when the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition (clearly a necessary branch of White House bureaucracy) noted that at least three of the stamps encourage “unsafe” activities, including (gasp!) a cannonball into a pool, doing a headstand without a helmet, and skateboarding without kneepads. ((These “experts” are apparently unaware that no one does headstands with a helmet. That’s why gymnastics is done on a mat. Seriously.))
Now the already financially troubled Postal Service will destroy that first run of stamps, and it is unclear whether the project is now dead in the water. We can be thankful that the Postal Service is at least partially funded by market demand, so the taxpayers won’t be eating this ridiculous debacle entirely. Which is good. But this seemingly trivial scenario should give us pause for other reasons.
This is not just yet another case of politically correct nonsense getting in the way of reason and common sense. Climbing trees and mountains, biking in the woods, starting fires, archery, and many other useful, healthful, or educational activities may have a degree of danger inherent in them. But removing danger from our children’s lives doesn’t make them safer. In many ways, it puts them at risk. I would much rather teach my children competence and responsibility than hold on to the illusion that I will always be there to shield them from every influence and agent of corruption and/or danger. Because I can’t shelter them from reality forever. Some day, they are going to have to work and live in the real world, and I want them to know how to take care of themselves. Apparently the President’s Council on Tomfoolery wants incompetent, ignorant, fearful automatons who need a child-proofed nursery to live in for the rest of their pathetic, flavorless lives.
Clearly, postage stamps designed to encourage exercise are not the most powerful forces attacking the safety of our children, either in the physical, spiritual, emotional, or mental senses. If we are so concerned about the well-being of our children, perhaps we should limit children’s television, shutter McDonald’s, and outlaw the consumption of sugary foods. But no, I really don’t mean that. Because that isn’t the civil government’s job. That’s the job of parents and then individuals. It’s our job to determine for ourselves what we deem within the permissible range of risk. Or is it?
This move by the USPS may be a shadow of things to come. Because if the civil government is ultimately responsible to pay for our healthcare, they also become responsible for determining what is and is not “healthy.” They become the parents. It becomes their job to enforce more intrusive health regulations: ranging from food to recreation. And this has already begun. Proof: the continuing saga of Nanny Bloomberg’s soda ban.
Choice and responsibility are inextricably linked. If I am not in the position of taking responsibility for my health, I also lose the choices involved in my safety. Get ready for heavier fines on motorcycles, tobacco, alcohol… you name it. And in order to determine who is involved in these unhealthful or potentially dangerous activities, our Nanny State is going to call on an even Bigger Brother to monitor every aspect of your daily life. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other avenues of social media are going to become a little window on whether you carved your pumpkin without eye protection and cut-proof gloves… on whether you smoked a cigar when your child was born… on whether you drank more than 15.9 ounces of Coke on that one trip to Steak ’n’ Shake. This is about more than stamps. Our freedoms are about to be even more tenuous.