Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dictator of the World

I always jokingly tell people what changes I will make when I am the Dictator of the World. Over all, I think I would be a very benevolent dictator. Lots of people would probably like life under my reign although others would be jealous of my power.

Here are some of the changes I would make if I were dictator of the world.

1) There would be mandated ratios between how much more the C.E.O. of the company could earn than the press operator on the factory floor. Henry Ford said it should be seven times as much but I'll up it for the 21st century to 20 times (unlike the current 438 times). If the production worker makes $10 an hour, then the C.E.O. would get $200 an hour. That's $416,000 a year. If everyone else was bound by the same rules, I think you'd still be rich at $416,000 a year. These orders would apply only to employees. There would be no limits on the owner of the company or the inventor of the product so they could get as rich as they pleased. They also wouldn't apply to athletes or actors or authors. Let them make whatever the market for their exceptional skill and creativity will bear. I do imagine though that their prices would be forced down to more closely reflect those of society as a whole.

2) We would go back to trying to teach our children that it simply isn't cool to bring children into the world without a clue about how we're going to take care of them. That's not to say that I want to once again shun or humiliate illegitimate children or their parents but I would get rid of that blase attitude we've had for so long that having babies is no big deal because it is a big deal to become a parent. It requires responsibility and willingness to sacrifice and if you are young, unmarried and uneducated, it probably represents lost opportunity as well.

3) In the same vein, I would dictate that we teach our children that fathers are important and ideally, every child will have one in their life. Of course, that doesn't mean that single mothers can't be excellent parents or that children raised in single parents homes can't thrive but over all, every child benefits from having a mother and a father. Both young mothers and fathers seem to have the attitude that fathers really don't have much importance in the scheme of things but they do and it is up to us to teach our kids, both the fathers and the mothers, that this is so.

4) I used the word "cool" in #4 above. Maybe cool isn't the operative word any more with the kids like it was in my day when we all strived to have it directed toward us but the concept of cool, or whatever term has taken its place with modern youth, can do amazing things. Most members of a society will respond to what is or is not considered cool. First, in my era long hair on guys was considered cool and everyone grew their hair. Then it became not cool and the majority got a haircut. Recently, the culture has labeled smoking not cool (a good thing, in my opinion, even though I'm a smoker) and low and behold about half of us have quit (and the rest of us would probably like to if only we weren't so mightily addicted because heck, yes, I don't like looking uncool either).

In light of this, I think we should do the same with drinking. Drunkenness has been cool for as long as I can remember. We glamorize drinking, find drunkenness humorous. Celebrities have built careers around their supposed alcoholism (Dean Martin, for one). Rock stars brag about how trashed, smashed, bombed, snockered, shit-faced, wasted...this list could go on forever.... they got. We read about how our college kids engage in binge drinking. Some of them die from it. NASCAR is one example. The championship series used to be called the Winston Cup but then political correctness took over and, good Lord, we couldn't have races sponsored by tobacco companies. Now it is the Sprint Cup but cars are still sponsored by Budweiser, Miller Lite, Jack Daniels. And it is the same with commercials on t.v. and ads in magazines. Can anyone argue with a straight face that cigarettes are evil but alcohol is fine and dandy and causes no problems in our society. But as long as kids think drinking to excess is cool, they'll continue to over-indulge.

5) We need to completely revamp our system of dissuading people from becoming drug abusers. I haven't figured out all the details on this one yet but our current War on Drugs has not worked and is not working. In fact, it is getting worse and catching more and more kids that typically would have been immune to its appeal. It's not just ghetto kids sitting on a street corner like we used to think but, increasingly, our honor roll students. It is stupid to have millions of our citizens jammed into over-crowded jails and prisons for minor drug use and/or sales. They cost us a fortune to maintain and they take up beds that should be available for murderers, rapists, child molesters, burglars, etc.

6) When I'm Dictator, ad agencies will not be allowed to market every imaginable product with sex. And parents will be ordered to stop letting their daughters dress like miniature Madonnas or Brittanys. Sexy little seven-year-olds are not cool (there's that word again). Pre-teens should not be seen in skin-tight shorts and midriff-revealing tank tops. They should not be decked out in eye-shadow and mascara and blush. On the other hand, boys could be just a little bit sexier by wearing pants that prove they have a butt rather than having to constantly hitch them up to keep them from falling to the groung. Honestly, I have never thought of myself as a crotchety old woman. I've never cared about tongue rings or tattoos or or pink hair. It is only when all these things I've mentioned are marketed toward kids as a way to make sexiness desirable that they disturb me and why I think parents who fall into that trap are being foolish.

7) Furthermore, ad people will be forced to use models with shapes that a normal human being can actually compare to. It's not that I personally care whether the average runway model is 5'10 and weight 72 pounds....I just don't want this to be the role model our daughters envy and strive to emulate, often leading to anorexia or bulimia.

8) In the elementary grades, our number one priority should be to ensure that every single child is a competent reader. I think there is no single educational element that is so important to future achievement as reading. Even an unmotivated student can change their outlook later in life and overcome a poor academic past if they can read. As Dictator, I will mandate that every student must read one book per semester in each of their classes to get a passing grade. The book must have some bearing on that particular class. The books don't have to be heavy, boring textbook type tomes. They can be biographies about groundbreaking mathematicians or pioneering scientists; they can be humorous books about winning political campaigns or books about how a particular organization marketed itself successfully, such as NASCAR. They can be interesting books about history like Anne Frank or books about people who coped with discrimination and what that felt like (African-Americans or gays). A book can be a passageway to enthusiasm and just may lead a child through that doorway to accomplishment.

And, no television can't serve the same purpose because with television, it is the boss and the watcher is simply the passive follower. Reading puts the reader in control with the books being his or her servants.

9) Universal health care - of course, it should be a given that every single human on this earth deserves decent health care.

Oh, well, I could go on forever but the world can't be fixed overnight, even by a Dictator.