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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

America Needs Patriots more than Politicians

Yesterday my wife's and kid's lives were put in danger. My wife was picking the kids up from school and taking them on a promised outing. It's never very safe to be on the road but when a neighboring driver is incompetent the danger factor goes way up. An old man in a big truck signaled his intent to change lanes into the center turn lane, and we can assume eventually planned to make a left turn at some point. Heavy traffic was moving at 45 miles per hour and my wife had maintained a safe distance between her own car and this truck signaling ahead of her.

So far nothing special is going on. These are routine events in a typical drive. My wife is assuming rational driving behavior. He doesn't pull into the turn lane all the way. He stops halfway in, blocking both the center lane and my wife's lane. She shoots a look to her right, but cars are blocking her! She slams on her brakes and skids to a stop, thankfully in time! It was close. If she'd hit his truck, the way the law is written it would have been her fault, but on the road with rational drivers when someone's turn signal is showing they're going to change lanes or turn, we just naturally assume that's what they're going to do and we drive accordingly. She saw him slowing down and changing lanes. Her experience told her that the distance she had between this slowing vehicle and the time necessary for him to complete his lane change was more than sufficient.

There are lots of reasons why a driver wouldn't want to slow down to a near stop on a busy thoroughfare with 45 mph traffic pushing 50 mph: wear-and-tear on the brakes, loss of momentum which will have to be paid for with expensive gasoline, and finally the threat of being hit from behind by somebody else in a hurry. Traffic rules state that a driver must maintain a safe distance behind the car in front of them, but common sense tells us that if a car is no longer going to even be in our lane, then that distance factor no longer applies. Except that in cases like this one, obviously it does apply, because an idiot might be driving. Yet in spite of the obvious and imminent danger of these kinds of age-related accidents, no real legislation has ever successfully been passed that addresses this issue. We can pass boatloads of drunk-driving laws and ever more restrictive rules on young drivers, but never never can we pass a single law that restricts the driving privileges of the elderly. This is because old people vote in amazingly high percentages. Any politician that tries to pass driving restrictions on the elderly shortly faces the end of his political career.

The elderly voting block is also the reason that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have remain untouched even though these programs are so far out of whack that they're bankrupting the country. Our politicians can't touch these programs because that would cost them their job.

Well, Oh great and esteemed leaders of the free world, what will you do when in a few years we find ourselves as bad-off financially as Greece? There will be no bailouts for us, because what country is rich enough to bailout the Titanic? What will you do when there is no longer enough money to pay the bills and suddenly no one is willing to buy your Treasury bills? Will you just print more money? Of course you will and everyone will become the poorer for it. Then what will you do when no one accepts the dollar in trade for goods and services? So much for that vaunted political career.

No matter how you slice it, whether at the hands of elderly voters, or an enraged mob, your cushy government funded sinecure is as ephemeral as that soap bubble floating above the drain. You might as well do the right thing and push through comprehensive entitlement reform. Yes patriot, you might well have to find a new job. Can you live with that? Because otherwise we all go down with this foundering ship.

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