If I Were in Charge...


"The piecemeal engineer will, accordingly, adopt the method of searching for, and fighting against, the greatest and most urgent evils of society, rather than searching for, and fighting for, its greatest ultimate good. This difference is far from being merely verbal. In fact, it is most important. It is the difference between a reasonable method of improving the lot of man, and a method which, if really tried, may easily lead to an intolerable increase in human suffering."

-Karl Popper

Life isn't easy. Let's face it. We are either too busy or too lazy to think for ourselves. That's why we have politicians. It's much more convenient to let someone else'preferably someone who thinks they are smarter than we are'do our thinking for us. And it seems to work because we keep electing these people to office.

But what motivates these self-appointed saviors of humanity? I think most politicians get their start because they are easily irritated. They see something they don't like and decide to change it. What better way to shape the world into what you want than to rise to a position of power that allows you to force your desires on everyone else? Such is the nature of "social engineering."

We see this kind of thing all the time. For example, someone who was late for work one morning after getting stuck behind a driver who couldn't maintain the speed limit because he was talking to his buddy on his cell phone decides enough is enough. Between putting on her makeup in the rearview mirror and scanning the songs on her iPod, all while steering with one knee and balancing a large coffee on the other, she has an epiphany: Why not make the roads safer by outlawing the use of cell phones in cars? Upon getting elected to the city council, she proceeds to do just that.

An ex-smoker who is struggling with tremendous guilt over the knowledge that he may have killed upwards of 250,000 people over the years with his secondhand smoke decides to turn over a new leaf. He runs a strong campaign and gets elected to the state legislature. Recalling how difficult it was for him to quit smoking for the umpteenth time, he decides to give others a helping hand by pushing for a law that bans smoking in restaurants and bars. He reasons that non-smokers should never be put in the uncomfortable position of having to decide where to eat or drink based on the smoking habits of others, property rights and freedom of association be damned.

And so it goes. People who are unhappy with their own lives go into politics in an effort to make everyone else as miserable as they are.

Then I started thinking: What if I were in charge? What pet peeves do I have that I would like to see outlawed so that my life could be made just a little more tolerable?

For starters, I would pass a law requiring people to wash their hands after using the bathroom. Short of that, I would at least require automatic bathroom doors to be installed in all businesses and public buildings so that the rest of us don't have to touch the same handles used by the unwashed masses. I would also see to it that anyone failing to wash who then proceeds to shake someone else's hand can be charged with second-degree assault.

I would devote all education funding to making sure people learned how to pronounce words correctly. There is no excuse for saying "reeluhtor" instead of "realtor" or "supposably" instead of "supposedly." And don't even get me started on the use of non-existent words like "irregardless." If you're gonna talk, then I'm gonna learn you to talk good.

Under my control, it would be illegal for restaurants to automatically include a gratuity when serving groups of eight or more. I tip what I want, when I want. Period. If you want an extra seven percent, you'll have to earn it.

Let's see. What else?

Coffee shops will only be allowed to sell coffee. None of this decaf soy latte nonsense.

Cable companies could only provide me with the channels I like. I don't want to pay for what I don't watch. While we're on the subject, I would ban all "reality" TV shows.

Pepsi products? Gone. Under my regime, Coke would be the official soft drink. But only regular Coke. No diet sodas allowed. They're just so...stupid.

I like things as simple as possible. Until someone starts minting a nine-tenths-of-a-cent coin, gasoline will be priced like everything else.

It would be against the law for restaurant supply trucks to block the drive-thru lane when unloading'especially when I'm hungry and in a hurry. And if I discover after driving away that I was given fewer than two napkins and four packets of ketchup, someone is going to face a hefty fine.

I could go on, but I thought I would share just some of the things I would do if I were in charge. So, if you know what's good for you, don't ever vote for me.

On the other hand, if you don't know what's good for you, I'd be more than happy to tell you. Based on your choice of politicians up to this point, I assume you like being told what to do.

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Lee Shelton's picture
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Lee R. Shelton IV has been commenting on politics from a libertarian perspective since the 2000 presidential election. Residing in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, he currently covers local issues at Examiner.com.