BY MICHAEL DYMMOCH
Last Sunday’s Tribune had an article about the tax mess in Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois. Previously, elected officials haven’t suffered any consequences from voter anger about post-election tax hikes, so current offenders know that if they raise taxes now, they can count on voters cooling off before the next election. People who chew out private sector providers when they don’t get good service don’t bother to vote out the lawmakers who treat them with such contempt. People who can rattle off stats on their favorite teams—going back to 1900—don’t know who represents them (read: works for them; spends their money; sends their kids to war) at any level of government. What kind of crazy is that?
There was a Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy wearing his billed cap in court the other day in violation of the judicial order (posted at the court house door) prohibiting hat wearing in the building. I seemed to be the only one who noticed. The judge didn’t care, apparently, and if the deputy’s sergeant—who was also present—noticed, she didn’t do anything about it. I’ve seen this deputy tell others to take their hats off. His double standard didn’t make me like or respect him or his supervisor or his department.
The deputy isn’t even a good example of the problem—too exceptional.
Our civility and respect for law, as well as other people’s rights or comfort has died a death of a thousand cuts. People who wouldn’t dream of holding up a liquor store steal copyrighted music or movies, claim other people’s writing as their own or tolerate plagiarism when others do it. (Isn’t Glenn Poshard still on the Board of Trustees at SIU?) How many times have you heard someone brag about how he cheated an insurance company? How often do you see someone cut in line? Isn’t that stealing the time of those who got there first?
Bad drivers are endemic. (Or is it epidemic given the crash rate?) Most of us consider the posted speed a math exercise—add 15 to get the real, enforceable limit. In Chicago, where phoning while driving is illegal, it seems every other motorist has his cell plugged into his ear—especially cabbies. And who really stops at stop signs? Or even red lights? We don’t ask ourselves if tailgating actually gets us there faster, or think about how really late we’ll be if a cop stops us or we get in a crash. Mostly we don’t really think. Or more specifically, we don’t ask ourselves “How would you feel if...?”
How would you feel if someone cut in line in front of you?
How would you feel if someone treated you as curtly as you’re treating that sales person or telephone operator?
How would you feel if your rush to get there yesterday resulted in a deadly traffic crash?
That’s my take. What’s yours?