Monday, October 12, 2009

Whatever happened to common sense?

Tennessee couple arrested
for burglarizing chapel where
they were just married.

Whatever happened to common sense? A six year old first grader was so excited about becoming a cub scout he wanted to take a camping tool that served as knife, fork, and spoon (all in one), so he could use it for his lunch. He faces 45 days in reform school! Previously a little girl’s grandmother sent her with a birthday cake to school and included a knife with which to cut it. The teacher used the knife first, then reported it, and the girl was expelled from school for an entire year. I remember another case a while back when a young boy brought to school a plastic gun and got in big trouble. This was not a plastic gun that could have been mistaken for a real gun, it wasn’t even a full sized plastic gun, it was a small one taken from an action figure. I forget exactly what happened to him but I know he was punished.

Unfortunately, schools are not the only place common sense is apparently unavailable. Consider the airlines, where their policies of searching have attained absolutely comic dimensions. Not only do the airlines now prohibit people from bringing their toothpaste and perfumes and such (unless they are in tiny quantities), they prohibit little old ladies from bringing their knitting needles (very dangerous, those). You cannot bring a golf club, but you can bring a guitar. Probably more than a billion people have been made by now to remove their shoes because once, quite a while ago, one person was caught with a small amount of explosives in his heel (I have no doubt Osama bin Laden is laughing his head off over this). Eighty year old perfectly normal looking women have been searched at airports, as has a ninety year old man who could barely walk with a cane (interestingly, they didn’t take his cane away from him). You do not have to appear to be from the Middle East to experience these maddening and absurd attempts at security.

Border crossings are another case in point. We live very near the Canadian border and often go to Creston, B.C. to shop (as they have many things there we never find in our home town). For a time, during the mad-cow scare we were not permitted to bring beef across the border. This included veal. It was commonly accepted knowledge that mad cow disease did not occur in cows under three years of age, veal is by definition much younger than that. But no matter, it was prohibited anyway. And now, of course, although we go to Creston probably at least once a month, and have for years, and all of the border agents know us, we are still required to show passports and answer the same questions over and over again. A Canadian woman friend of ours, who was once busted for marijuana, about thirty years ago, was not permitted to cross now unless she paid a rather large fee, even though the high quality marijuana from B.C. is routinely smuggled across the border.

Then there are tasers. Police across the nation have apparently gone overboard in their use of tasers. They are known to have used them on girls as young as eight, on woman as old as ninety, and even on a paraplegic in a wheelchair. In many cases they use them even when confronted with relatively minor resistance. Perhaps in some cases like these there might be some reason to resort to the taser, but there are many accounts in which their use clearly violated ordinary common sense. I guess there are supposed to be rules about the use of tasers, but if so, they are often violated by overeager police personnel. Personally, I don’t believe the police should be allowed to use them at all, and there have been many deaths because of their overuse.
Even doctors are sometimes prohibited from using their common sense. I know of cases where doctors will admit their patients need certain drugs but refuse to prescribe them. They are forced to do this because of their fear of being punished for oversubscribing certain drugs to younger patients, even though they know they need them. Doctors, like teachers and school administrators and policemen and border agents, and many others are apparently not allowed to have or use common sense. We have become a nation of bureaucrats so fearful of criticism we will do anything, including avoiding common sense, to keep from being blamed for anything. I am confident that if one wanted to do a bit of research he or she could find dozens of cases even more atrocious than the ones I have mentioned.

What is worse about this situation is that it also occurs in government, even when the issues are of great importance. Anyone who spends even a small amount of time on it will learn that a single-payer system of health care is the most efficient, least expensive and wasteful system to have. Knowing that, would your common sense not lead you to believe you should have such a system? Alas, such a system is not even being seriously considered. Similarly, if you are aware that Insurance Companies are siphoning off huge profits from our existing system of health care, and there is no logical reason they should have anything to do with it, would your common sense not tell you they should be left out of health care? This appears to be not even a remote possibility. My common sense tells me that unless there are secret reasons I am not aware of, we have no business staying in Afghanistan and should withdraw as soon as possible. Common sense obviously has nothing much to do with our lives anymore.

Science is good furniture for one's upper chamber, if there is common sense below.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Unlike most marsupials, the Australian wombat has a relatively large brain and a backward pouch.

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