Thursday, October 25, 2007

No Maybe About it. The Enemy is us.


Last Sunday’s Tribune had an article about the tax mess in Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois. Previously, elected officials haven’t suffered any consequences from voter anger about post-election tax hikes, so current offenders know that if they raise taxes now, they can count on voters cooling off before the next election. People who chew out private sector providers when they don’t get good service don’t bother to vote out the lawmakers who treat them with such contempt. People who can rattle off stats on their favorite teams—going back to 1900—don’t know who represents them (read: works for them; spends their money; sends their kids to war) at any level of government. What kind of crazy is that?

There was a Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy wearing his billed cap in court the other day in violation of the judicial order (posted at the court house door) prohibiting hat wearing in the building. I seemed to be the only one who noticed. The judge didn’t care, apparently, and if the deputy’s sergeant—who was also present—noticed, she didn’t do anything about it. I’ve seen this deputy tell others to take their hats off. His double standard didn’t make me like or respect him or his supervisor or his department.

The deputy isn’t even a good example of the problem—too exceptional.

Our civility and respect for law, as well as other people’s rights or comfort has died a death of a thousand cuts. People who wouldn’t dream of holding up a liquor store steal copyrighted music or movies, claim other people’s writing as their own or tolerate plagiarism when others do it. (Isn’t Glenn Poshard still on the Board of Trustees at SIU?) How many times have you heard someone brag about how he cheated an insurance company? How often do you see someone cut in line? Isn’t that stealing the time of those who got there first?

Bad drivers are endemic. (Or is it epidemic given the crash rate?) Most of us consider the posted speed a math exercise—add 15 to get the real, enforceable limit. In Chicago, where phoning while driving is illegal, it seems every other motorist has his cell plugged into his ear—especially cabbies. And who really stops at stop signs? Or even red lights? We don’t ask ourselves if tailgating actually gets us there faster, or think about how really late we’ll be if a cop stops us or we get in a crash. Mostly we don’t really think. Or more specifically, we don’t ask ourselves “How would you feel if...?”

How would you feel if someone cut in line in front of you?

How would you feel if someone treated you as curtly as you’re treating that sales person or telephone operator?

How would you feel if your rush to get there yesterday resulted in a deadly traffic crash?

That’s my take. What’s yours?


Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is the anger toward ComEd raising its rates. Its a private company, demand exists, it should be able to collect the market rate for its product.

If the government wants to tell it how to do its business, how much to charge, etc...then perhaps electrical power should be run by the government and we pay for it through our taxes.

Can't have it both ways.


Libby Hellmann said...

We had a miscommunication today at the Outfit, which led to two posts within 15 minutes: Michael's and Sean's... please don't ignore Sean's post, right below Michael's.... he's having a contest.. and I have it on good authority that the prize is well worth the effort...

More later...


Maryann Mercer said...

First, two posts from you guys is double the treasure :o)
The enemy is us downstate too. Most people don't bother to vote in the local elections or visit the school board meetings and then complain about the state of the city streets, how Carle Clinic is eating up the residential areas or why teachers are paying for class materials out of their own pockets while the administrators get million dollar contracts. If the teachers strike, the parents get the teachers.
Once upon a time there was the Golden unto others, remember? Now it seems to be the Me First cell phone call is more important than watching traffic; that's why someone else is sitting in the front seat. I don't have to terminate my phone call just because I'm at the checkout. (I have a problem with cells and driving it seems) My, me and I are now more crucial than you us and we from the government on down to the little folk. Good points Michael.

DanaKing said...

People close to me have heard me express many of the sentiments Michael shared here. The "problem" with democracy is that you get the government you earn; whatever you let slide will be appropriated as their own by someone to with a selfish interest in it. A boon for crime writers (fodder galore), but not a very fragrant world. (Apologies to Raymond Chandler.)

I have devised a way of dealing with it that seems to be working well for me. I actively strive to practice The Golden Rule, and maintain enough faith in my fellow man to assume he does the same. So if someone is overtly and deliberately inconsiderate of my feelings and sensitivities...

Anonymous said...

If you really want to be afraid, check out Eric Zorn's column in the Metro section of the Sunday Tribune. Go the to WLS site, as he directs you. Listen to the President of the Cook County Board, Todd "The Toddler" Stroger, who had his job bequeathed to him by the party bosses. This is the man running one of the largest county governments in the United States. Like George W. Bush, The Toddler would not have his job were it not for his last name. And, in both cases, the world is a worse place as a result of these two nitwits having been given power. Both of them should be working on an assembly line somewhere.