I went to eat
lunch with my 10-year-old daughter at school the other day and afterwards,
the principle came up to me and, with a stern voice and face, informed
me that my daughter would be literally kicked out of school the
following week if I didn't provide her with proof of our address.
You see we
had moved recently and the school board requires proof of a student's
home address for zoning purposes.
This task had
slipped my and my wife's mind and I told the principle that we would
go home straightaway and get a copy of our lease and a utility bill
and bring it by.
I also mentioned
that I thought it was kind of absurd to threaten, and even worse
to actually do it, to kick a child out of school for something so
trivial. A simple phone call to remind us would have sufficed.
And then, that's
when it happened. That's when the principle of the elementary school
uttered the most popular copout in the history of civilized society:
"I don't make the rules, I just enforce them."
I have to admit:
I didn't hear the principle say "I don't make the rules, I
just enforce them." But rather I heard: I'm a mindless cretin
who lacks the ability for reasonable thought so regardless of how
absurd something might be I'll do it anyway because that's what
I was told to do."
I'd like to propose adding the human brain's frontal lobe to the
list of useless tissue that should be removed at birth since they
are no longer of any vital use to humans:
- One kidney
I'd start with
the cops. They are the poster children for the phrase: I don't make
the laws, I just enforce them. Of course when a cop says it I hear:
I'm an undereducated cowboy who, if not for working for the state,
would have no real skills to market and would most likely be in
prison myself so I do what I'm told.
Then I'd move
on to the customer service representatives at banks. The ones that
look at you with that blank, robotic stare and talk in circles as
you try to explain to them that you don't think it's fair that they
charged you a fee for going over the credit limit on your card since
the reason you went over your credit limit is because of a fee that
they charged your card with. Some monthly maintenance fee or cash
advance fee or "we want to undeservedly take more of your money"
I kid you not:
a customer service representative once told me when I asked what
the "over the credit limit" fee was, that it is a charge
the bank assesses you when you go over your credit limit.
Then when I
asked why they charge such a fee, he replied: "because it's
in your terms of agreement."
When I asked
why such a clause is in the terms of agreement he replied: "because
we cannot legally charge you a fee that is not in the terms of agreement."
I put my head
in a bottle of bourbon and have yet to come out.
attitude of blind compliance and self-preservation at the expense
of others is found at every level of society in America. It evokes
for me a vision of soulless beings wandering aimlessly through life
just doing what they are told until they can retire and then finally
start living the good life. You know those 10–20 years out
of your 70–80 years of life when you're too old to do the really
fun stuff anymore. But you do get to play a lot of cards, golf,
bowling, shuffle board and be on a first name basis with the emergency
services crews since they come to your trailer park at least twice
a week when someone falls and breaks a hip or dies.
It echoes of
a complete lack of self-reliance, self-esteem, confidence, intelligence,
courage and free will. All the sorts of things it seems the people
who built this country had.
But in the
end, as you lay in a state-funded nursing home because your social
security and Medicare are non-existent and the economy ate your
retirement account; you won't have control of your faculties but
at least you'll have peace of mind knowing that you always did what
you were told.
You were a
patriot. You never questioned authority. You never questioned the
status quo. You supported the troops. And for that you left the
world worse off.
[send him mail] is an economist
living and working in Atlanta, Georgia.