If your city is like most others in this great country, it is no doubt struggling to pay its bills and balance its budget – unless your town is Beverly Hills, in which case you can stop reading now.
No one knows how our cities have fallen into such financial distress. Could it be that for decades tax rates have steadily declined while we citizens have relentlessly demanded safer bridges, better schools, and daycare centers for our pets?
As we all prepare to march on our state legislature with our latest referendum to demand lower taxes, how can our cities build the libraries, community centers and skate board parks with oxygen bars that are guaranteed for free by the Bill of Rights?
I’ve given this issue a great deal of thought because, as a humor writer, I have a lot of time on my hands. The solution to this perplexing fiscal crisis is clear: If you love your town, start committing crimes.
Because municipalities make big money on tickets for infractions, all you have to do as a patriotic resident is pick the violation you fancy most and go for it. Do you like running stop signs? Back up and run it again. That will bring in $300+ to the city coffers. Prefer public acts of indecency? Try streaking down Main Street. That’s probably good for $500 easy. Your city council will thank you (and probably offer you a free bath towel).
Newsflash: Our prison population over the past two decades has soared to a record-bursting 2.4 million. Almost one out of every 100 Americans is currently incarcerated. (Personally, I blame Hollywood celebutantes Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Justin Bieber for much of the overcrowding problem.)
The USA has more people in prison than any other country in the world – yet one more achievement about which Americans can proudly shout We’re #1. The cost to house all these charming folks is staggering. Check out these startling statistics:
- The average annual operating cost in 2012 was $28,000 per inmate.
- Housing the approximately 500,000 people in jail awaiting trial costs $9 billion a year.
- The cost to put my two daughters through four years of college would be enough to house the entire prison population of Wyoming for four months.
- An ant can carry 50 times its own body weight.
- Donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes.
As these alarming statistics clearly demonstrate, we need to do something about the runaway costs of housing our inmates – not to mention cracking down on Donkeys Gone Wild.
Let’s face it. We’re all busy. Life now is much harder than it was back in the days before cell phones, the internet and Roomba vacuum cleaning robots. There’s barely enough time in the day to update our Facebook status, let alone find time to see if our kids remembered to make themselves dinner before putting themselves to bed.
In a more primitive era, say around 1989, life was far less complicated. People had much more time to show appreciation and be considerate of others. But thanks to social media and 982 cable channels to choose from, our lives are much more hectic. Nonetheless, it’s still important to try to be polite – okay, maybe not that important come to think about it, but still something to think about when you’re not too busy admiring your own reflection in the window at Prada’s. Here are some common courtesy guidelines to ensure you extend every bit as much consideration to others as do, say, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
Tip #1: Cell phone etiquette: One thing we can all agree on is how much fun it is to talk on your cell phone anytime, anywhere. But when using your phone in public, be sensitive to people around you. When yakking on your phone to your buddy Eddie while watching a film in a crowded theatre, smile at the person next to you and whisper, “This will only take a minute. The game is in sudden death overtime.”