This essay focuses on shifts in attitude toward risk management, which, following the work of Ulrich Beck, is loosely defined as a collection of preventive measures attempting to shield people from the widespread consequences of industrial development. Recent years have seen an increasing backlash against risk management and the (official and unofficial) enforcers of the values of caution, preparedness, and vigilance. Right-wing pundits sneer at the so-called nanny state, and grassroots organizations spearhead protests against state and local laws that they feel to be oppressive. The backlash is noteworthy because it often perpetuates problematic notions of personal freedom, champions self-defeating stoicism, and absolves corporations from responsibility for the consequences of their actions. This essay focuses on three major examples: smoking regulations, bans on foods containing or cooked in trans fat, and the Mattel toy recall.

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