A Modest Proposal: Ballot Write-In Suggestions
FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
Have you ever wanted to make up your own ballot initiative? Well, commentator S. Pearl Sharp has a few common-sense measures she'd like lawmakers to consider.
S. PEARL SHARP: The state of California was thoughtful enough to send a voter information guide to help me prepare for the coming midterm elections. There are 13 propositions for proposed new laws. The guide, which I'm supposed to read, is 175 pages, single-spaced with half of it in very small type. Yup. I've got all the facts, opinions and fiscal effects on propositions regarding, among other things, alternative energy, monitoring of sex offenders, funding schools, financing of political campaigns and cigarette taxes. Yet none of these propositions even comes close to the stuff that's giving me day-to-day stress. The real pains in the you know where.
So I proposed my own set of propositions - The Pearl Props. Here are some potential laws that could bring your blood pressure down and keep your potential lifespan up.
Pearl Prop number one: Traffic. The voter's guide informs me that there is a proposition on a ballot to reduce traffic congestion - oh, they're so polite, congestion - by upgrading the freeways and repairing local roads. I don't think so.
Here's my proposal: Mandatory anger management training for everybody with a driver's license, including me. Road rage is everything from showing the finger to murder. Road rage is on the rise in America, with firearms being used in about 37 percent of the cases and people even using their car as a weapon. Yeah. We need help.
Pearl Prop number two: A ban on radio and TV hucksters who shout, shout, shout at you, especially car dealers, sportscasters and furniture stores. What is it about furniture that makes people want to shout? Dr. Phil will back me up on this: Being shouted at creates stress and anger, because sometimes you want to shout back, and often lowers self-esteem. So is it working for you?
Now this next issue doesn't get a lot of press. It's parking meters. Why do parking meters always face the pedestrian and not the driver? You get out of your car, walk to the curb, and the part of the meter that receives the money is on the back; or the whole thing is 8 feet away in the middle of a lawn. Now you've got to step into the squishy-squishy mud or tiptoe across quicksand to get to the side of the meter you need.
Pearl Prop number three is either turn the meters toward the driver or start reimbursing drivers for the cost of cleaning up those suede pumps and those expensive sneakers.
Pearl Prop number four brings me back to the election. It would ban those TV ads that candidates run showing the family dog or hugging their daughters, not to mention outright lies about the opposition. Instead, every candidate would be legally required to use TV ads to actually state their position on the issues of the day. Now there's a concept.
And that phrase all the politicians use about building a better America. Censored. You want a better America? Calm down the traffic, turn the parking meters around and stop shouting at me. Now let's get out there and vote. And take a pencil. You probably have a few propositions of your own you want to write in on the ballot.
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CHIDEYA: S. Pearl Sharp is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles.
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CHIDEYA: This is NPR News.