With just a little over a month to go in the 2016 presidential election, many Americans are looking at the prospect of choosing the next occupant of the White House as a choice between dinners of liver and broccoli. Neither major party candidate is viewed favorably by the electorate, so this looks like one of the those “hold-the-nose” decisions based on who you dislike the least.
And no wonder. None of them – and by this I include Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green candidate Jill Stein along with Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump – are addressing the pressing problems facing the American public.
Sure, they’ve talked about (and made vague promises concerning) the economy and immigration and global warming and such, but solutions to those concerns – if solutions actually exist – are years off, at best. I want solutions now. Fixes or hacks for my life that will improve my existence almost immediately.
As the old saying goes, “What have you done for me lately?”
So, as a free service offered to the candidates when they debate again this Sunday, my list of sure-fire real-life and completely solvable issues and their prompt and sure resolution. You’re welcome.
Outlaw coupons in the “Speedy Checkout” line: How many times have you rushed into Vons or Ralphs, grabbed a few urgent items, picked a promising looking checkout stand to find that the honyocker in front of you has brought the whole “speedy” process to a grinding halt by waving a tiny quadrangle of paper at the cashier? Almost always the coupon is expired, or applies to some item the clueless consumer didn’t actually put in his or her cart, or otherwise requires the exasperated attention of one or two store managers. Supermarkets that redeem coupons should balance the “Speedy Checkout Line” with an “I’m In No Hurry” checkstand so that all those folks who are trying to cash a payroll check drawn on a Bulgarian credit union will have a place to go. Other than where I want to tell them to go.
Automatic turn signals: All new cars manufactured starting in 2017 should have this new feature. If your auto makes a turn of 10 degrees or more, the appropriate turn signal is activated, if you haven’t already done so. But wait, there’s more! If the signal self-engages, it also sends a notification to your insurance company, saying you are a clod who doesn’t know the first thing about road courtesy or safety, and please raise my rates through the effing roof.
The No-Helicopter Zone: Let’s start with two truths. Today’s kids are out of shape. And a lot of their parents are, too. Add that to the popular idea that letting your son or daughter walk anywhere is just a fingernail short of child abuse, and you’ve got a generation of munchkins whose shoes are simply decorative. Look at the tangled rows of minivans clustered around elementary schools – and even middle and high schools – so that mom or dad can drop off or pick up little Brett or Britney. It not only stops all other nearby traffic, but also encourages kids to be late. Why bother to get up and dress at a reasonable pace when one of the old folks will speed you to the schoolyard gate? My fix: no cars are allowed to stop or park within two blocks of a school or park or athletic field (exceptions made, of course, for the handicapped). Let the little devil walk. If you’re worried about Charles Manson, walk your offspring personally to the door. That way you’d both be getting some exercise, and one more chance to micro-manage the child’s life.
Meeting Term Limits: Is there anything so time-wasting in the working world day as unnecessary and overlong meetings? Well, OK, there’s e-mails, but we’ll handle that later. It’s hard to get your work done when you’re roped into the conference room – or kitchen or hallway – while some fatous nephew of the owner gives you the Wisdom of the Day. Yes, I know that some meetings are useful, but most are not, and almost all run overlong. Abraham Lincoln gave the best speech ever in two minutes. If you can’t communicate clearly and succinctly, you don’t yet know how to communicate at all. For those few vital conclaves, some rules. All meetings are held standing up. The person conducting the meeting must stand on one leg. If he or she uses the meaningless buzz words “silo” or “skill-set” or “synergy” or “right-size,” the meeting is ended and all present get to kick him or her. In that one leg. Come to think of it, those might not be bad rules for political candidates, either.
Jim Tortolano’s Retorts column is posted each Wednesday.