Monday, June 15, 2009

So How Does THAT Concern Me?

So many of us today would just like to live our lives in peace without having to fuss with anyone over property boundaries, the volume of the neighbor’s music, the color scheme the neighbor chose for his house and garage, the number of pets or children running amok among our flower beds, the little things like property taxes, the price of fuel, the price of food or medical services. No, those are not the most earth shattering things, but we really would like to be able to just ignore them and enjoy our favorite hobbies or otherwise be able to quietly go about our lives. But such is life that we are constantly brought up short by some ‘problem’ with a capital P.

One neighbor has caused property values to plummet by parking dilapidated cars all over his yard. So we ask the city offices to ‘do something’ about it. Another neighbor has decided to plow up his front yard and plant a garden of cotton, okra, and sunflowers. The neighborhood children have discovered they can hide there and throw things out at people passing on the sidewalks. Oh well. It is HIS yard and kids will be kids.

Some things are just not worth our concern. It is pointless to complain or worry if things will change in three months, a year, or two years. My favorite grandmother used to say that no one would know the difference in a few years anyway. And that is so true of many things that irritate or otherwise grate on our nerves. But some things do actually matter now—and will matter in years to come.

Animal abuse has probably been around in some form since mankind discovered his ability to chain them up or even eat them. But seeing abuse of animals hurts the spirit of those who can make a difference. So, that is one concern that can and should be addressed by everyone. But is child abuse? Our youngest son reminded me of an incident that happened when he was little. He wanted a toy while we were at the grocery store and I said we could not do that. He threw a hissy fit and got an immediate response from me—a paddling right then and there in the grocery aisle. If I had done such a thing today, I might have been arrested for child abuse!

Animals and small children need to be corrected immediately to help them associate the behavior with the response. The response does not have to be terrifically painful, just definitely unpleasant. Just as we give rewards immediately for good behavior, we have to be able to respond to wrong behavior immediately. A good parent doesn’t just ignore bad behavior.

Somehow I feel a bit like a neglectful parent when I see our government running amok among our civil rights. But I will be dipped in kerosene for fleas if I can figure out exactly how to ‘correct’ our government’s behavior. Voting or not voting doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference these days—if it ever did. I can remember that our city government planned years ago to build a convention center and events complex. The citizens of our fair city voted it down numerous times, but somehow it managed to slip in there on a ballot and get built anyway. Now a convention center might be a pretty expensive item for a fairly small city like ours, but some of the ‘items’ on our government’s list are so big that they defy imagination. Three commas in a figure just about top my ability to imagine an amount.

Even if the government were not spending as freely as a child who stole his brother’s piggy bank and found his way to the candy store, something about the way things are being done—even in the open and semi-above board—makes me suspect that citizen rights are far from being of first consideration these days. Oh, I have already written to the Texas governor about Bill 1440 that gives Child Protective Services the right to invade and kidnap our children just like a SWAT team on a mission. But what about government agencies that MAKE money off of taking away citizen rights? Whether it is the local drug enforcement people who decide we MIGHT be druggies or CPS who think we are too strict with our children, who gives these people the right to force their way into private homes?

Today we saw that the government has decided to tax 25 percent of the cost of business cell phone use because they have somehow decided that the normal person (?) uses a business phone for personal use about 25 percent of the time. Now, when will the government decide it can tax my playing Farm Town because it is an unnecessary addiction similar to alcoholism? Makes sense to me! Being concerned somehow is just not enough when civil rights violations are so ubiquitous and so idiotic. Some things were never meant to be taxed. Some rights (ownership, privacy, and self-defense) were never meant to be seized.

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