n April of 2012 the Tarpon Springs City Commission voted to fluoridate the water supply. The measure has already been voted on, and with a unanimous vote, little can be done about it. Last week at our first candidates forum I was asked my opinion on the matter. I spoke truthfully and expressed my disagreement with water fluoridation. After the forum one woman approached me and told me how much she enjoyed all my answers but this one, and has decided to not vote for me. I felt this reaction was quite peculiar, and caused me to go into further detail of why I am against fluoride in the public’s drinking water.
Do I believe there are unanswered questions on fluoride, or that it is dangerous and used by the government to dumb down its masses? NO. And I mean NO. My objection to fluoride comes strictly from my philosophy on the role of government. I believe the role of government is to promote the general welfare, not force the general welfare. We do not force flu vaccinations, although it may be better for everyone if more people took the vaccine. We do not require a multivitamin to be added to our drinking water for the less fortunate to gain adequate nutrition and health to make them live longer, so what is the obsession with fluoride?
Truly, I do not know the recent obsession with fluoride, and I mean that for both sides of the argument. I use fluoride daily in my toothpaste and I always pay a little extra at the dentist for it, so I do not believe it is harmful in its use. But I also do not believe I have the knowledge, or right to force fluoride on someone else just because it benefits some citizens who may not have the privilege of going to a dentist or receive fluoride in other forms. The issues I have with fluoride is its forced inclusion in public drinking water, as opposed to voluntary consumption.
The implication of the question on fluoride is if you do not support it, you do not promote the general welfare of your citizens, or you do not care about the poor. For those of you who do not know me very well, I have dedicated a huge part of my life to helping the homeless and disadvantaged, and have risked a lot doing so (See TampaBay Times Article printed Sunday, Janaury 20). Just because I am opposed to government forced inclusion of a chemical in our drinking water, does not mean I do not support the welfare of the poor. I just am opposed to the inclusion philosophically, and believe money can be better spent by going into lower income neighborhoods and directly teaching kids about the importance of dental hygiene. To me, water fluoridation is more of an indirect way of trying to help people, with the best of intentions, but misguided applications.
Philosophically, I believe in a society of voluntary cooperation. I do not believe the government should force almost anything on its citizens, unless in defense of an act of aggression from another individual. So no, my objection to fluoride is not based on science, efficiency, or anything else other than the fact that I believe an individual has the right to control what enters their body. Besides that, I believe that working directly, rather than indirectly, with our most vulnerable individuals in society works much better than passing the buck to a chemical in our water to solve our problems. But above all, the issue is at rest in Tarpon Springs, and in Pinellas County. If I was asked would I personally reintroduce the question of fluoride, I would have answered no. I believe the citizens have spoken, and although I disagree, I will abide by their decision. There are many more important issues pressing Tarpon Springs than fluoride and that should be the focus of this election instead of a question already answered.
Tommy Frain is a candidate for Tarpon Springs City Commission Seat 4 for the election March 12, 2013.