Monday, April 20, 2009

"Ten Things We Should Toss"

I was surprised and gratified by the response to yesterday's post (The Things You Remember), in which I asked what the earliest historical event was that you remembered. The Challenger disaster and the assassination of JFK were mentioned several times, and it was very interesting to see the things that make an impression on people and ground them in a particular time and place. I didn't get a record number of responses, but I got quite a few and all were great - thanks to everyone for replying!

I have another question today, this one brought on by a very interesting series of short essays in yesterday's Washington Post Op-Ed section: 10 Things We Should Toss. In this two-page spread, ten commentators suggested ten things we ought to get rid of to improve the nation. The ten things (and their authors) were:

The Nobel Prize in Literature (Marie Arana);
The Prom (John Green);
The NAACP (Jonetta Rose Barras);
Vice Presidents (Jeremy Lott);
West Point (Thomas Ricks);
The White House Press Corps (Ana Marie Cox);
Larry Summers (Naomi Klein);
Tenure (Francis Fukuyama);
The Term "Muslim World" (Parag Khanna); and,
Television (Farhad Manjoo)

In my humble and biased opinion, this is a great list. Each essay is well-written and thought through. Having read them, I can agree with most, although not necessarily for the same reasons put forward by the authors. For instance, John Green hates the expense vs the perceived return on investment of the high school prom...but it does show young people the value of dressing well and acting civil, if only for a night. Jeremy Lott doesn't think we need Vice Presidents, but I think it's not bad to have an understudy (although, having just finished Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency, by Barton Gellman, I think we need to keep an eye on them). Farhad Manjoo wants to dump television, although I love the diversity of shows that keep things interesting. I must say, though, that I agree with Thomas Ricks, a military affairs commentator for whom I have great respect, that we should close West Point...as an ROTC graduate, I see all his arguments and agree with him pretty much across the board.

Take a few minutes, read the 10 short essays, and then suggest something you think we should toss. To start things off, I suggest we get rid of the Department of Homeland Security, which I don't think has made us any more secure, and has contributed to an unnecessary and expensive ballooning of the federal bureaucracy.

What do you think?

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

11 comments:

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Getting rid of The Prom would be great! It would rid those of us that never got to go with of the angst and bitterness we've felt for the last 15 or so years..

And I raise a middle finger to the idjit that wants to take my TV away.

allenwoodhaven said...

I think you meant to say that you don't think the Dept of Homeland Security hasn't made us any MORE secure. (You wrote it hasn't made us any less secure. I certainly hope that isn't what it's supposed to do!)

As for my suggestion, I say get rid of 24 hour news. They consistently try to whip people into a frenzy about the topic(s) of the day but rarely have enough material to justify going on and on and on and on and on and on about what has happened/is happening/might happen. The country would be much calmer without all the talking heads trying to fill this 24 hour void.

Remember when we were young and a breaking news story meant that something important happened(like an president being shot or war being declared) instead of something trivial.

News teasers should go away too. When Reagan was shot at, I remember one station saying "A president is shot; details at 11." when it was already all over the news.

Bilbo said...

Andrea - I'd have taken you to the prom. And you could have kept your TV, too.

allenwoodhaven - good catch on the "less secure"...I've changed it. And I agree with scrapping the 24-hour news channels. They tend to trivialize the really important things and overblow the trivial to fill up air time.

anOCgirl said...

i say we toss rush limbaugh for obvious reasons

Leslie David said...

I agree with you on most of these. I am also a product of ROTC, and I think that ROTC and OCS produces much better officers than the service academies. Why? Well...we're more used to dealing with real life and adversity than the cadets and we have a 4-year head start on them. They come out of jail, er, the service academies ready to party. We've already gotten that out of our system and are ready to go to work. The curriculum has gotten better though--in my day academy students received a degree in Engineering although any real engineer would laugh at them, now they have a choice of degree programs.

I have limited cable only so I wouldn't have to screw around with an antenna for my flat screen TV, but most of the time when I turn on the TV it's to watch a DVD, not any network's programming.

OK, I did go to the prom, but back in the '70's it wasn't that big of a deal, the guy rented a tux, bought a corsage and drove his dad's car. For me it was the first time I wore a long dress or had my hair done. As far as angst, this was the only date with anyone from my own high school (yeah and I'm looking at going to the 35th reunion) and the guy who took me is dead.

As a contractor I've supported DHS and I can tell you the only part of the organization that really works is the Coast Guard.

fiona said...

Being Scottish I say toss the English! Well what did you expect?
William Wallace is my Hero!

Bob (the one you work with) said...

Nobel: Sure. At the very least, it might remove that pesky brown pie piece from Trivial Pursuit. Now if they could just do something about that damn pink one.

NAACP: Absolutely.

VP: Maybe change the way they are brought into office, but there needs to be a succession scheme.

Service Academies: Completely agree.

White House Press Corps: Why stop with them?

Tenure: Chuck it.

TV: You can have it when you pry it from my cold, dead, obese fingers.

DHS: Kill it. Stomp on it. Bury it somewhere then lose the map.

As for the rest...I have no opinion.

Mike said...

In the article about Summers the "subject of economics" was mentioned. Ecomonics is all hindsite. Economists rank two steps below gypsy fortune tellers. Who's in between? Financial advisors.

SusieQ said...

My list of "Things we should toss...and things we should bring back"

1. Keep Television, but toss Reality TV and Paid Programs. Bring back quality programs like Masterpiece Theatre instead.

2. Keep Proms, but toss expensive prom dresses and other expensive things. I went to my prom in a hand-me-down dress I acquired from my older cousin. After the prom we ate a late dinner at a local restaurant. What's wrong with that?

3. Toss grocery stores that stay open 24 hours a day. It will cut operating costs and drive down the cost of food and other grocery store items.

4. Toss career politicians in the House of Representatives. You serve only once in a lifetime. Extend term limits there to five years. Require newly elected representatives to complete a course in How To Be A Representative In Congress before they serve.

5. Toss wider streets and bring back sidewalks and front porches. We might get to know our neighbors that way.

6. Bring back the family dinner hour.

There is more, but this is enough for now.

Bilbo said...

OCgirl - GREAT suggestion!!

Leslie - "...and the guy who took me is dead." I dance with you every week. Is there something you're not telling me?

Fiona - I would have expected no less. Do you paint your face blue?

Bob - no wonder we get along. Maybe we can do something about DHS...

Mike - good point.

SusieQ - I think I love you!

Jersey Girl said...

Toss off-shore call centers.
Give the jobs back to Americans.

Can you stand a little more recognition? Check out my blog today!