At the risk of sounding like an old codger doing that “back in my day” thing, and borrowing from my friend Dave Shoemaker, who loves lists, I’m creating a list of historical occurrences marking when the world began turning to shit.
- When doctors, drug companies, and lawyers were allowed to advertises their services. I’m pretty sure that’s when doctors quit making house calls, medical cost began to skyrocket, pharmaceutical companies began inventing new diseases, and lawyers began convincing Americans they have a God-given right to sue regardless of how stupid their claim is.
- The day gravel was removed from under the playground monkey bars and replaced with sawdust may have marked the end of kids being permitted a normal childhood. When they put safety belts on merry-go-rounds and teeter totters (if such can still be found on playgrounds) the thought of a Tom Sawyer-Huck Finn childhood became as dead as Mark Twain.
- America didn’t become a communist nation because the Soviets won the cold war. We became communist when we banned dodge ball and decided sports should be equally open to all kids, regardless of their athletic ability. We became communists when society decided there should be no winners or losers in a soccer match.
- Speaking of soccer. Never mind, I don’t want to speak of soccer.
- America is not as creative as it once was. This may be attributable to the advent of parental organized sports and activities. There is something inherently creative about kids organizing their own sandlot ball games or deciding how to creatively fill their recreational hours. I think kids would be much better off if allowed time to themselves, out of view of their parents and without adult referees. We made up our own games, decided on what the rules would be, and found our own solution when some kid broke a rule. All without blowing a whistle or having parents yelling at us from the sideline.
- Creativity also suffered when Sunkist stopped shipping oranges in wooden crates. Orange crates are what kids once whittled (CAUTION: whittling requires borrowing your mother’s paring knife which may be harmful to one’s blood supply) into toy knives, guns, and other implements of destruction used in playing outdoors in the fresh air and away from parents.
- America has never been the same since it raised the drinking age to 21 and did away with 3.2 beer. I have never been one who abused alcohol and I think it has something to do with being able to walk into a bar at age 18, order a beer, and be around older people. Binge drinking and puking on your shoes seems to have come along after they banned 3.2.
- At some time teachers removed the “Policemen are your friends” posters from their classroom walls. From that day forward there has been a marked decline in respect for law enforcement. There may have also been a day when policemen in fact stopped being a friend. I remember well a local police sergeant loudly declaring, “I hate fucking teenagers.”
- There was a day when Americans became so disinterested in their lives they turned to living vicariously through such characters as Honey Boo Boo. I’m holding that kid’s parents greatly responsible for much of what’s wrong in this nation. The rest of it I’m blaming on Jerry Springer.
- I’m pretty sure education went to hell partly because some higher up the food chain asswipes decided schools should let out after Memorial Day and take up before Labor Day. Please point out the evidence that a shorter summer vacation has led to improved student performance.
- Education also took a step backwards when conservative lawmakers began using the word accountability in their rhetoric more often than they used the phrase, “…support for public education.” When the Soviets launched Sputnik the politicians poured money into science and mathematics and little over a decade later America put a man on the moon. Later the money dried up and in its place came the ideological mantra of accountability. Result? We now lag behind most developed nations in many areas of educational achievement.
If I continued to sit here staring at my laptop I could keep this list growing. But I have to end it someplace so let this be it. One of the worse days for this country was the day political and religious extremists decided politics was not the art of compromise, but the art of warfare.
NOTE: Since I wrote this piece some POS principal out East decided to ban the playing of tag during recess while another dweeb administrator put the squash on all playground games involving any kind of a ball. Both decisions were based on the fear that some kid could get hurt. I can shut my eyes and with little effort hear the words of Earl Pitts admonishing us to, “Wake up Amurika!”