07 May 2008

The Easy Way

I got an email from an Australian friend of mine in which he told me of the skyrocketing price of beer there. It seems the government is trying to curtail Aussie drinking by levying taxes. A case of decent American beer (and I do realize some will call that an oxymoron), costs $60-70 US. Crikey.

While I shudder to think of my martini being taxed, maybe those Aussies are on to something. What if we put a tax on fast food? Look at all the crap we Americans eat, leading us to those fuller figures, health concerns, diseases and all-around cruddy quality of life. What would be so wrong with a trans fat tax?

I can hear you now, ACLU. That would be robbing the people of their inherent right to clog their arteries. I hear others saying it would hurt the underprivileged who are in need of affordable food. And the underprivileged sector is rapidly growing here. We can’t afford gas, we can’t afford our homes, we can’t afford our food...and we can’t afford to keep this up much longer.

Considering where we are at economically, I’ve been wondering how we, the typical American citizens, can turn this around. Or can we? Because the changes required would take massive effort. Then it occurred to me that we don’t like to do anything hard, do we? Perhaps the biggest problem we have in America, as Americans, is that we tend to choose the easy way. Right or wrong, good or bad, as long as it’s easy, quick, less hassle, that’s the route we’ll take. And, who can blame us? We are overworked, underpaid, undereducated, in debt, out of shape, overweight, and in desperate need of a vacation. But that’s also the cost of the easy way of life we strive for.

If we want it and can’t afford it, we charge it. If we are hungry and don’t want to deal with pots and pans, we can drive up to a window and order. If we are done with something, we don’t bother to think about the landfills. And why does one need to recycle when some needy individual will root through the trash to get that nickel? We don’t consider that what goes into our food may not be healthy for us because, surely, the government would never allow something harmful to be used. We don’t bother exercising or eating less because, any moment now, they are going to come up with an anti-fat pill. And, if not, there’s always surgery.

Look at the ads on television today. It’s almost all pharmaceutical. Like a pill or a shot is the answer to all that ails us...then you hear the side effects. I especially like the ones that may cause cancer...or death. It’s nutty. And, with all the controversy over immunizations and the potential (or likely) link to autism, I just don’t understand is this push to vaccinate young girls against cervical cancer. A shot — which may or may not have been researched as thoroughly as it should be, especially considering how it’s going into still developing young females and the few HPV strains it protects against — we are being told, is a good thing and you are a bad parent if you don’t do it. Really? What about giving these girls a shot of awareness, self-esteem and the empowerment to protect their health across the board instead? Herpes, HIV and other STDs are still rampant. Besides, there is another cheap, easy and reliable solution: A condom.

It’s all about choices. And sometimes those choices are simple, yet people feel the need to complicate them.

I had a conversation with a very concerned woman who kept herself up at night wondering about paper or plastic. “Seriously?” I asked her. She nodded. It turns out that she got great anxiety at the grocery store when she was asked that question and didn’t know the right answer. I looked at her, unable to hide my consternation. “How about buying some reusable bags,” I offered. Oh, but she’d just forgets those. No, she would much rather worry than create a solution. Repeat after me: She is sofa king wee todd dead.

Reusable bags are the wave of the future, folks. I love them. I have the fabulous 99¢ Trader Joe’s bags (six of them) and have added two chic Gelson’s bags and a huge Staple’s shopper to the bundle. At first, it was hard to remember to bring them into the store. I would often have to run to my car while the cashier checked me out to grab them. But, now it’s a habit. On the odd occasion when I forget to return the bags to my auto, where I keep them for convenience, I just cough up the cash and buy new ones (hence the Gelson’s additions). And, don’t hate me for saying this, but I think stores should start charging you if you do want paper or plastic. I know, I’m a crazy lady. But what else do you think would entice our society as a whole make that needed change?

I hear you again, ACLU. We have a right to pollute the environment. I get it.

Still, it’s the easy way of doing things has gotten us where we are. And now things are getting harder each day. Change is needed. And I have to make some as well.

While I don’t have a hybrid, I feel I am doing my part by recycling my 2000 Jetta every day. She’s due for service; time for brakes, oil change, etc. The dealership is nice enough to drive me home, but not nice enough to pick me up again when the car is ready. Usually, I politely impose on a friend to fetch me as a favor. This time, though (and for the first time in my life), I’m going to take the bus.

I’m not a mass transit fan. I prefer taxis when I am in New York. I think most Californians have a healthy reluctance to going underground. We also have a bad habit of being alone in our cars when we commute, hence our crappy traffic. And, after having to take the bus to school as a kid, I’ve learned not to like them. Remember the bus from the movie “Speed”? Yeah, that’s the bus line that serves my hood. But, I’m going to suck it up and get on the bus. I have to admit my hesitance. I’m not always excited about the unknown. But finding a way around that will ease some of the burden on traffic (and friends) is something I need to consider.

And now, I’ll get off my soapbox. I don’t mean to bash US. I only wonder when we are going to wake up to our complicity and responsibility. Because until we make changes, big changes, things are likely to get much, much worse. And the biggest change we need to make is to get really pissed at our government for putting the rights and profits of corporations ahead of its citizenry. But, fortunately for them, they know that we are too overworked, underpaid, undereducated, in debt, out of shape, overweight, and in desperate need of a vacation to really take them to task. They have it easy.

No comments: