The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘politeness’ Category


A gentleman commented on yesterday’s post which was entitled “Text While You Drive”.  He thought that my suggestion that we ought to encourage people to text while they drive, allowing the laws of natural selection to wipe them out through their foolish behavior was “terrible … but funny.”  (I truly do have the bumper sticker pictured on my car).  I think of it as “dark humor” or irony.

Those who know me think of me as one of the gentlest people they have ever met.  None of my neighbors has ever heard me raise my voice in anger – because I am virtually never angry at anyone or anything.  One friend likes to describe me as “an old soul” – sometimes with a bit more emphasis on the “old” part than I would prefer.  I know she means it as a compliment.

I believe that reason, common sense and civility are far more effective in persuading people to a point of view than are anger and invective.  That is my modus operandi and has been for many years.

If you read either my profile or some earlier entries on this blog (including yesterday’s) you understand that I believe that we must take personal responsibility for our actions and not rely on “big brother government” to enact regulations intended for our “benefit”.  So it will probably surprise you that I am advocating yet another government regulation – but one that I think would actually be beneficial.

The statistics are very clear.  Distracted driving is by far the major cause of traffic accidents and fatalities – exceeding even drunk driving.  Logic would suggest that if we were to reduce the amount of distracted driving (texting and holding a cell phone to your ear while operating a vehicle) we would see a reduction in the number of vehicular accidents and deaths on our streets and highways.  Bravo!  Good idea.

However, the problem with passing a law making it illegal to engage in those activities, while it makes us feel warm and fuzzy and feel that we are addressing the problem, is that it is unenforceable – making the law worthless.

Fortunately, I have a simple solution.  This should appeal to everyone with the exception of three groups:  1) People who feel above the law and want to continue making calls or send texts while driving; 2) Owners and employees of auto repair body shops and; 3) Personal Injury lawyers.  Yes, even our politicians can endorse this idea without fear of voter backlash.

Thanks to Steve Jobs and others, most of us are now equipped with “smart phones”.  These little devices can tell us where we are and how to get home … well you’re probably more conversant than I as to their capabilities since I only acquired my first smart phone last month.  So far I have figured out how to accidentally end a phone call but have yet to explore much of its potential.  (Unfortunately, I do not have any 10 year olds at home who could explain its more advanced features to me).

So here’s the proposal.  Congress passes a law called the “Pay As You Go Surcharge”. (PAYGOS).

Since cell phones know where you are they should also be able to tell the rate of speed at which you are moving (or if not, that modification should be easy to make by the engineers who designed them).

If you attempt to text someone and are moving at 10 miles an hour or more, a warning would show up on your phone’s screen, “There will be a $2.50 surcharge for completing this message.”  The recipient would also be advised, “There will be a $2.50 surcharge for accepting this message.”  On the theory that texting is 10 times as dangerous as completing a voice call – the surcharge for completing voice calls would be $.25 to both parties.

The revenues collected from those who continued to text and call while driving would be required to be used to pay down the national debt and for no other purpose.  (As I said, even the politicos could get behind this).

Washington has spent so much time talking about deficit reduction without doing anything about it.  This proposal is a way to turn talk into real debt reduction.  Perhaps this is far too simple to get the attention of our lawmakers.  I hope not.



In an earlier post I had mentioned that, thanks to my parents, I was taught that I should be courteous to others. Today I was the recipient of someone else’s courtesy – and though I’m sure the person who was involved in extending it will probably never read this – I would like to say “thank you” to her and let you who are reading this know why courtesy is something in which we should all engage.


In mid-August, my wonderful golden retriever, Spenser had surgery to remove his spleen. After a week’s recuperation, he was decidedly improved. Then came the bad news from the biopsy. He had a cancerous condition for which there was no treatment in the handbook of veterinary medicine.


After I received the diagnosis I immediately began investigating various forms of treatment that might help his condition. I began on an holistic form of treatment to stimulate his immune system against the cancer – particularly since we had, in the spleenectomy, removed a significant part of that system.


For over two months – perhaps as a results of the surgery – perhaps because of the treatment I had implemented – he truly flourished. He acted as though he were a three year old – active and obviously enjoying life.


Then, three weeks ago things changed. He became more lethargic. My vet suggested that, because of the cancer, he might be experiencing internal bleeding. The color of his gums faded from the healthy red that he had exhibited and became chalk white – confirming the vet’s diagnosis.


Those of you who have companion animals and care for them as dearly as I do for mine know the anguish – separating yourself from the emotional attachment and wanting to do the right thing for your best friend.


Spenser became so lethargic that I finally decided that the right thing to do was to call my vet and arrange an appointment to euthanize him. That was the Thursday before Thanksgiving. I showered and was preparing to leave for the vet’s office. When I was dressed, I asked him if he wanted to go in the car. The lethargy departed, he wagged his tail and he bounded down the stairs. He was his old self and I just couldn’t do it. I put him in the car and we drove to the vet where I told her that today was not the day.


Spenser went through highs and lows. Then came Thanksgiving. That morning he was again lethargic. Because of the Holiday I called the emergency veterinary hospital and arranged to bring him in for the euthanasia. As I asked him whether he would like to go for a car ride – he once again bounded down the stairs of the house, tail wagging. Instead of going to the vet we went out for a bite at a local Jack In The Box.


The worst part of his condition is that his appetite is spotty at best. I have tried offering him a variety of foods which he sometimes enjoys and sometimes spurns. So when I made our Thanksgiving turkey I was pleased that he seemed enthusiastic in eating the giblets which I had cooked – intending to use them in giblet gravy. Because of his appetite for them, I skipped their inclusion in the gravy and fed them to him instead.


As a thought, it occurred to me that he seemed to have a preference for organ meats – and that brings me to the subject at hand. I went out at 7 o’clock this morning to see if I could buy some chicken gizzards at a local store. I was reluctant to leave him alone for an extended period and the store is about 20 minutes away in either direction.


I was able to find them and got in the checkout line. (There was only one open). A lady of about my age was ahead of me with a very full basket. She happened to look at me carrying my one item and asked, “Is that all you have?” I told her that it was.


She said, “Well please go ahead of me. I have plenty of time.”


I know that I thanked her several times – and she must have thought that I was a little batty for being so appreciative. But I can’t tell you how grateful I was to be able to get home to Spenser a few minutes sooner.


She and I come from the same generation – where courtesy wasn’t an option – it was an obligation. I cannot describe the glow and the warmth I felt because of the consideration she extended me.


I got home, Spenser was doing fine and I put my purchase in the refrigerator.


A few hours later I turned on the television. Only a few minutes passed and I heard about the pepper spray incident at a Los Angeles area Walmart.


If we want to live in a civilized society – courtesy is not an option – it truly is an obligation. And each of us not only needs to think about it but we need to put it into practice. Now.








In yesterday’s post I forgot to mention “pepper-spraying” as yet another reason why I choose not to participate in the festivities of the day.


Allow me to correct my omission.



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