Lookin' For Trouble

by Steve Mason

We make some of our greatest gains
when we see old things in new ways

The other day I was listening to my favorite radio physician - Dr. Dean Edel. Being a hypochondriac, I figure there's a good chance I either have what he's talking about, or I'll get it one day soon. So a listener calls in to ask about those little plastic labels they now put on fruit. Is there any danger in accidentally swallowing one, and what if you eat some of that glue they use? Now here's a guy with way too much free time! But he's typical of a great many people today. With no famines or plagues, Cossack hordes or Spanish Inquisitions, it has become necessary to actually look for trouble.

But the trouble with looking for trouble is that, if you look hard enough, you're eventually going to find it. Remember Chicken Little? He managed to convince Goosey Loosey, Ducky Lucky (and assorted other characters with way too much time on their hands), that the sky was falling. So involved did they become in their bogus belief that their sky finally did fall - in the form of Foxy Loxy. Please forgive me for giving away the ending if you've not yet read the book - and judging by the number of people looking skyward, I'm beginning to think that may be most of you.

The fellow worried about a risky residue of glue on his apple has lost sight of what it's like not to have an apple. Eventually, all those who blissfully pay double for ORGANICALLY GROWN labels (which guarantee absolutely nothing), are going to wind up paying triple … the apples without labels will then cost double.

You see, it won't take forever for the wise guys to figure out that the average American has not only too much time on his hands - he also has too much money in his pockets. And if you feel this is far fetched, price a Granny Smith in Tokyo. The production and distribution of food has become a very big business in the hands of a very small number of people. While food shopping the other day, I noticed that the price of butter had gone up 50% in one week. I asked around to see if anyone knew why this was so. No one knew … and no one much cared.

Indeed, the food industry would be silly not to follow the lead of the insurance industry. When I was a kid, if you wanted to protect against a possible loss, you bought insurance. If you lost a limb you knew exactly what you'd get. You were the one who had previously decided just how much cash, say your leg, was worth.

But then some people, keen on looking for trouble, wonder what would happen if you lost your leg and didn't have insurance. Now, in the old days, this would have been referred to as simply being up the creek - enough said. But not so today. Now you can sue somebody for the loss of your leg and, as long as you're not paying for it, the sky's the limit. That limb worth maybe ten thousand out of your pocket soars to ten million when it's out of somebody else's. The bottom line here is that, since everybody now has to pay for everybody else, insurance has become a big ticket item in the average budget.

In fact, politicians (always keen to aid and abet those looking skyward) make employers pay medical insurance, won't let you drive without insurance, and tax you to pay insurance for people who insist on building houses in flood zones. Ever wonder why the insurance industry is such a big campaign contributor? It has even gotten to the point where, in some cities, police will regularly stop every tenth car to check for insurance. And as long as you're pulled over, let's see your license and registration too … and do you mind if we look in your trunk?

People craning their necks to see the first sign of a falling sky will tell you that such random stops (stops lacking due process) prevent all kinds of potential problems. For example, these wonderful MADD ladies (who brought roadblocks to America) will tell you such Gestapo tactics save young lives. This leaves me to wonder why so many young lives were spent in wars fighting for freedom, liberty and due process? But, by virtue of having gotten pregnant one or more times, these ladies have now become experts at finding problems.

And why would cops want to argue with all the money and all the power people are handing out to combat all those problems they manage to find? Why not stop every fifth car and double one's problem prevention efforts. Why not search every fifth garage? Why not every second house? Why not every person?

Look at this way

Millions of years of evolution have favored the survival and reproduction of those with the ability to spot and then avoid problems. Mother Nature could not have imagined a time so safe, so secure, so trouble free. Yet here we are, superbly suited to finding trouble. From the destruction of the Rain Forest, to the hazards of red meat, from the perils of nuclear power to the extinction of the yellow titmouse, from the seven dirty words to the seven deadly sins, we seek and we seek and son-of-a-gun eventually we find.

Dr. Mason, who is not looking for trouble, may be reached through Port of Call or directly via email at DrSBMason@aol.com

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