Our friend B.M. Wells recently wrote about how we can change the world by being realistic and reasonable (which I highly recommend reading and re-reading). In it, he tackled some big issues, which got me thinking about some of the smaller “unreasonables” we live with in our daily lives. These aren’t huge social injustices or sweeping moral issues, just everyday realities that don’t add up. That being said, I believe big change can spawn from small changes – that one small step can be a giant leap at the same time.
To be sure, I used a certain criteria while writing this. Specifically, I wanted to avoid any political or controversial issues. This isn’t a plateau for me to preach any partisan polemics, but rather shed light on some things that, when you think about it, just don’t make much sense. So you won’t see any “know what’s unreasonable? That a man and another man want to get married!” or “it is completely outside of reason for someone to tell a woman what to do with her own body!” Point is, you may think that, but others may not, and polarization isn’t good for blogging. In my eyes, the highest form of enlightenment is empathy. Let’s get started.
1. Cars Go Too Fast
Just by writing that subtitle I feel like a cantankerous old man. Go ahead and give me a cane and a rocking chair to yell at the whippersnappers driving by my porch.
But think about it. What is the highest speed limit that you live around? If you answered anything more than 85 MPH, then you don’t live in the United States (‘murrica!). Next question. What is the highest speed your car is capable of reaching? If you answered anything above 85 MPH, then I’m jealous, because my car starts to rattle around 40.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of analysis here to realize that there’s an unnecessary disparity. If we are required by law to drive under a certain speed, why enable us to exceed that speed so easily? It’s like telling someone not to drink soda while you’re lining the hallways with Coke machines. “But what if I go to Germany, bro? No speed limits, so back off my right to drive as fast as I want!” To which I reply, get real. Since the turn of the millennium, roughly 109 people die every day from car accidents, a third of them as a result of speeding (more than any other factor, including alcohol). Is the outside chance of you driving on the autobahn really worth it?
Seriously, why do pennies exist? They are tiny, annoying, often lost and full of fraudulent myths that they bring good luck.
Beyond that, there are very real economic reasons to get rid of the penny, and few, if any legitimate arguments to keep them in circulation. The main proponent of the penny I’ve found during my research was “tradition,” otherwise known as nostalgia. Hey I get it, I still rock my cargo shorts from 8th grade around the house sometimes, but at least they’re actually comfortable. We’ve had the good sense (pun intended) to get rid of the half-cent coin in 1857, and other countries have figured out how ridiculous one cent coins are. Our friendly neighbor to the north cited that rising prices in the metals that pennies are made of result in the production of a single penny costing more than one cent. We lose money just by producing these little bastards, not to mention the countless pennies lost in the purgatory of streets and alleys across the country.
I’m no economist, but if taxes are hiked so that every purchase comes out as a multiple of 5, not only would it slightly increase revenue, it would do so at an imperceptible expense to the individual. Put that on the fiscal docket, congress.
3. Post Office Insurance
Let me tell you why this one holds a particular thorned spot in my heart. It all started in 2010 when I was shipping my things from college in California back home to Hawaii. As an English major, perhaps nothing was more prized among those precious few boxes than my box of books. I had at least 25 books meticulously sealed in the box before I sent it off. Had I known that the moment I dropped them off at the post office would be my final farewell, I wouldn’t have left them so unceremoniously.
As my other possessions trickled in, my box of books was conspicuously missing, until one day I got a letter in the mail with a ripped segment of the original box explaining that my books were lost in translation, never to return. Needless to say, I was pissed. Not only was there monetary value of a couple hundred bucks in there, those were some of my most sentimentally valuable possessions (including a hand-bound collection of Coleridge poetry I purchased in the Lake District).
I went down to the local post office, expecting some kind of compensation, only to find out that I didn’t purchase insurance, so I got nothing but half-hearted condolences. Again, I was pissed, but this time reason kicked in and I became infuriated. Why should I pay insurance for them to do their job? This isn’t typical insurance that covers you in the event of an accident, this is you paying extra to make sure that the service you paid for in the first place is actually completed. It’s absurd. Do I need to pay chefs extra to make sure that they cook my food instead of bringing it out to me unprepared? Should people pay surgeons extra to ensure that they use surgical tools instead of safety scissors? The point is, I already paid for a service to be done, why should I pay extra to make sure that it’s carried out correctly? It makes no sense in the context of any other service, and shouldn’t be acceptable for postage.
Fiscal cliffhangers breathe easy, this has nothing to do with financial policy. But rather, this is a twofold gripe that encompasses education and monetary transactions. Let me begin with this question: do you know how to do your own taxes? If so, you are part of the national minority. If paying taxes is only rivaled by death in it’s demand on human population, why is it that such an overwhelming majority doesn’t know how to do it? The answer is intuitive; if you don’t know how to file your own taxes, odds are nobody taught you how. So why not incorporate tax filing into secondary curriculum? It’s a necessary skill, and it incorporates math. It seems like a no-brainer. With common core standards making its way down the pipe, it’s a reasonable addition.
Next, why is it that we need to pull out a calculator when we try to figure out exactly how much something is going to cost? Aside from gas, taxes are withheld from the advertised price, leaving the actual cost of something a surprise as pleasant as genital warts.
These are just a handful of examples that stuck out to me, but feel free to comment and let me know of any other things you can think of. Until next time, keep it classy, and above all, keep it reasonable.