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Cyclops: Many traditions have become meaningless
Mar 20, 2014 | 2296 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bryan Gray
Bryan Gray

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Davis Clipper.

The Wall Street Journal columnist, Joe Queenan, recently wrote that Americans would be better off if the country’s businesses and institutions “repudiated outmoded traditions.” 

Among the meaningless traditions were the ridiculously invisible interest rates paid by banks, holding up the game for the intentional walk in baseball, and, as noted below, cigarette warnings.

“Warnings that cigarette smoking can cause cancer have no point,” he wrote.  “Everybody already knows that smoking cigarettes can kill you, and smokers obviously don’t care.  The warnings are like putting stickers on motorcycles reading, ‘You are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than people in cars. But you probably already know that. It explains why you refuse to wear a helmet’.”

It got me thinking...What other meaningless traditions and ideas are held by Utahns?

How about the idea that Utahns value education?  Surveys constantly report that a majority of taxpayers claim Utah’s legislators should fork over more money to public schools, even responding that they would support an increase in taxes for such a cause.  Yet these same taxpayers continue to vote for legislators who parcel out money like a blackjack dealer offers sympathy.  The annual 2 percent increase ends up covering health insurance increases and new student growth, but does not increase per pupil funding.

Why not be honest?  We want our education system to be better financed but we want the “other guy” to pay for it!

Another “outmoded” concept is that Utahns are a satisfied and happy people.  If that is the case, why did a recent national report show that Utahns lead the nation in depression?  (And even though we have the lowest alcohol rates in the U.S., we are near the top for all those “happy pills” we pick up at the pharmacy!) We also rank near the top in teen suicides.

If baseball’s intentional walk needs rethinking, we might also ponder the traditional advice that everyone needs a college education. With high “under-employed” rates among college graduates (and a good share not finding work in their field), maybe we should focus on the need to speak a foreign language or training to fill non-college technical jobs.  (It is certainly easier to find a job as a welder than it is as an English teacher!)

And what about the idea that Utahns should pursue the American dream and own a home?  The recent recession showed the folly of blindly signing up for a mortgage.  In fact, all kinds of young couples and single men and women might be better off renting or leasing then tying themselves up in home ownership.  In a highly mobile society, owning a home can limit the ability to pursue other careers or out-of-town job prospects.

If you don’t agree with this column, think of some of the other advice columnist Queenan offered in his Wall Street Journal analysis. According to him, other meaningless efforts include writing letters to your congressman, asking help from your cable company, hoping people will stop texting while driving...

And writing angry letters to the editor!


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