Merry Christmas, dentists!
A majority of Pinellas County commissioners must think you've been awfully good this year, since they voted to eliminate fluoride in the drinking water for some 700,000 residents.
You know, the stuff you dentists and also a bunch of national health organizations have consistently said fights cavities and is a great tool for maintaining dental health.
But hey! More decay means more greenbacks for Dr. Laughing Gas, right? Can you say: Job security? Can you say: Family vacation in Aruba?
Okay, so you might expect local dentists to be thinking along those lines, were they a greedier, more cynical lot who cared not a whit about what happens to your teeth.
But no. Dentists were on the front lines arguing against this bad (not to mention badly motivated) push to stop putting fluoride in tap water. They were also probably among the most dismayed when the commission voted for suspicion over science.
But hey — what do dentists know about what's good for teeth anyway?
Who cares that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called fluoridation one of the best public health achievements of the past century?
Or that no less than the chief dental officer of the U.S. Public Health Service said he found the Pinellas commission's decision disheartening?
And what does it matter that 57 percent of Pinellas and Hillsborough residents polled this month support adding fluoride to the water?
The tea party has spoken!
Government intrusion in our drinking water! they said.
A globalist agenda! they said.
"This is the U.S. of A., not the Soviet Socialist Republic" one of them really, actually said at one point in the debate.
And four of the seven commissioners — Nancy Bostock, Neil Brickfield, John Morroni and Norm Roche — voted thusly.
For the record, no, I do not want my government to be allowed to dump whatever they deem to be good for me into my water glass. I'm all for continuing science, for monitoring and for paying attention when federal officials determine we should keep the level of fluoride low, as they recommended this year.
But I'm also for paying heed to long-established science and experts in the business of teeth. And, call me a sheep, I can even abide the occasional government intrusion.
I'm okay with OSHA regulations that say I shouldn't have to work in a building where the roof is about to collapse on my head. And I really like the government intrusion of red lights to keep people from mowing me down in traffic.
And should the conspiracy theorists track down how our local dentists are all in the pocket of Big Fluoride, I hope they will let me know.
But who wants logic when you can have rhetoric? It's usually so much louder!
When one lone guy presented the profluoride side at a similar debate in Dunedin earlier this year, he was booed.
And he was a dentist!
Sadly, it's the neediest people, the ones who can't afford good and consistent dental care, who stand to be hurt most by this move. But as of Dec. 31st, no more fluoride for you, and for no good reason.
I'd say Happy New Year, dentists, but they're probably too bummed to listen.