My drivers-ed teacher taught the standard Illinois Rules Of the Road protocol and instilled solid habits in we fledgling motorists. She even gave each of us a one-time lesson in stick-shift driving. Because the school’s cars were all automatics, she graciously – perhaps foolishly – volunteered her Ford Thunderbird. If that car were around today, I’m sure the clutch would still bear the scars of my awkward footwork.
One of my teacher’s lessons concerned the right way to turn left. She explained that the rules were set up to maximize the flow of traffic and benefit everyone. She told us that waiting for oncoming traffic to clear, with your car remaining even with the stop light meant that only one car would be able to turn left when the light changed to yellow and oncoming traffic stopped. Instead, she had us pull to the center of the intersection so that we could clear the area quickly on the yellow light and allow a couple more cars to turn left behind us before the light turned red.
Today, I see lots of people who don’t do what my drivers-ed teacher taught us to do. Not surprisingly, that results in exactly what my teacher predicted – everyone else has to wait.
Another way to see that is that when people only look after their own needs, others suffer. That sounds a lot like today’s politics. I wrote about that last week in a slightly snarky piece called Hollering.
This time, though, it’s specifically about the effects on others of those people only looking out for themselves – and those effects are always negative. An example is the crazy-easy way it is to circumvent our pathetic little protections against the wrong person getting their hands on an assault rifle and thousands of rounds of ammunition. The consequences for others are often lethal.
Another example is the fundamentally fraudulent, proven false for over 35 years, supply side economics. It is the practice of stacking the deck in favor of those who already have lots, with the phony promise that somehow benefits will “trickle down” to the little people. That hasn’t work out well for most “little people”.
In contrast, when we all play together and play by rules designed to benefit everyone, we’re all better off. Look at Medicare as an example. The only people who don’t like Medicare are the providers who are prevented from over-charging – nobody who is on Medicare doesn’t like it. The same goes for Social Security. And public education. And protecting the environment. Sure, there are people who have to put some effort and some cash into doing the right things, but we’re all better off for that. Indeed, since the EPA started its efforts in 1970, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland hasn’t caught fire – not even once. Lake Michigan is clean and safe for swimming. And the air no longer stings the eyes and throats of people in Los Angeles.
When we all play by rules that help us all, we are all better off. Just like when we turn left the right way.
Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by passing this along and encouraging others to do the same. Thanks. JA
Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.