I was a central figure in the campaign in Portland to fluoridate the water supply. I am proud of the difference it will make in the health of kid's teeth. But, I am also disturbed by the twisting of facts by a left-wing fringe.
I have always thought of the Democratic party and the left-wing as on the side of science. In climate change, the left wing has defended our scientists who overwhelmingly say climate change is happening and it will have severe consequences. In economic science, the left-wing has adhered to the facts on balancing budgets and promoting job creation.
But, in Portland, the left-wing has been split down the middle related to fluoridation. But, the science of fluoridation is all on one side of the issue.
Every major, credible health organization that has taken a position has endorsed fluoridation. This issue has been studied to death. Pew has identified more than 3,000 studies that have been done on fluoridation. A half dozen expert reviews have been completed demonstrating its safety. In addition, it has been shown to save about $38 for every $1 invested. This should be a no-brainer for all left-wingers.
Yet, in Portland, after we worked our butts off to bring fluoridation to a vote of the city council and gained unanimous support, along with supportive statements from the Governor, and all five County Commissioners, all of whom are liberal - walking out of the city council building felt like I was walking into a violent mob. People yelled in my face and said I was poisoning their children. People shoved us around. The passions were as intense as related to abortion or gay marriage. But, the sad thing is that the passions were based on misinformation, and they all came from the left-wing.
This should be a warning to the left-wing that we have our own blinders. Progressives can be overly distrustful of industry to the point of craziness. A significant percentage of Portlanders seem to believe that organizations as diverse as Pew Charitable Trusts, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control are all bought out by chemical companies. And, my organization with a mission to improve the health of Oregonians is actually just a shill for the chemical interests. We've gotten emails and phone calls from people saying they will burn down our office.
I think it is time that we get past this, and the left-wing learns to recognize and clean up its own craziness. We need to trust in the scientific establishment to interpret complicated data and provide clear conclusions about what the science means. And, again, every single major health organization has said fluoridation is safe and very effective at reducing tooth decay.
The alternative is unfounded fears. Too many people in Oregon and elsewhere are refusing to vaccinate their kids, even though this is a critical public health practice. And, as we speak, a group of Portlanders are collecting signatures to overturn the good work that we've done to benefit the dental health of Portlanders. And, sadly, the Occupy Portland movement has fallen into this craziness.
We have more important fights to win. We need to band together to use good science to advocate for the economic, environmental and health rights of the needy. We need to have a better analysis around the true special interests that are keeping the poor in their place, and changing the very climate systems that keep our planet habitable. The left-wing needs to be the party of enlightenment, not the party of fear and conspiracy theories. We're better than this.