Bouquets, Brickbats, Ramblings
A Bouquet Goes to All the Selfless Volunteers
A Brickbat to Capital Punishment
This column is something of a swan song for me as I gaze toward the horizon of retirement from The Hour at the end of the month, so I thought I'd take a page out of Executive Editor John P. Reilly's book and hand out a few bouquets and brickbats of my own.
* * * A brickbat goes to anyone and everyone who still thinks it's OK for a god-fearing society to endorse capital punishment -- and to give up his hard-earned legal, civil or human rights for a seemingly easy solution to any problem. Criminal behavior demeans the criminal, but all mankind is debased when the state (that's us) decides to mimic that behavior by taking the life of any human being. What the state does to the least of its citizens, it does to me -- and you!
* * * A large bouquet to the myriad churches, synagogues, civic and governmental organizations and the many good-hearted people who offer their time, talents and resources to give the homeless in our country a helping hand. You don't hear very much about the homeless anymore, but they're still out there -- and they still need our help. Perhaps the government could do just a little more than it's doing now by coordinating existing efforts to make it easier for us to understand what we can do to help the homeless.
* * * A brickbat goes to traffic agencies and highway engineers responsible on every level for the existing mess that comprises our nation's highway system. Is there no one anywhere who can address the multitudinous problems with our highways? Highway signs, where they make sense at all, seem to be made and positioned for people who already know how to get where they're going, not for out-of-towners trying desperately to find their way through the maze. Even on roads I'm familiar with, I often see broken-line passing lanes where I wouldn't pass on a bet under the best of conditions (those are disasters waiting to happen for strangers who trust those thoughtless line-painters.)
* * * A bouquet to all those dedicated citizens who offer their time, talent and services to their local, state and federal governments to help keep democracy alive by volunteering to serve for little or no pay on the boards, agencies, commissions and legislative bodies -- all this despite the abuse they often suffer in their posts. A bouquet, however, is far from adequate;. They should all be honored at an annual clambake by the taxpayers who reap the benefits of their service.
* * * A brickbat to all those childless citizens who balk at paying the necessary taxes to educate our future leaders, and to those thoughtless, selfish parents and school administrators who would force children to abandon their youth in order to attend school earlier in the morning, later in the afternoon and throughout the summer. The notion that taking away children's time for fun and games -- , i.e., being children -- leads to a better education is sadly mistaken. I'll approve of those changes when parents and administrators agree to getting a second job working five nights a week -- and another job working weekends.
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on May 17, 2000.