Has ‘fairness’ blinded us to common sense?

Seeing Franklin Roosevelt turn a listening ear to England’s cry for help in the opening months of World War II, Winston Churchill said, “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing … as soon as all other options have been exhausted!”

Possibly no clearer example of this is to be found than in our current plight to get our nation working again. But, has our need to be “fair” decimated our power to understand just what is the “right thing”?

Most certainly, we’re wringing our hands and giving lip service to wanting to bolster our economy; and, we’re going through the machinations of doing something. Heretofore, however, our results tell a deeper story — a story of unbridled apathy on the part of those who have jobs as well as the power to do something about the dire employment situation.

High-tech and call-center jobs are still being sent overseas at light speed, as corporate leaders turn more and more from the love of country to the love of profits.

Recently, I received three calls from my bank in as many days. Each caller was trying to offer something in which I might have been interested had their message not been delivered through heavier than usual Middle Eastern accents. I politely asked questions to help me understand, but answering questions not on their scripts threw the callers a curve.

Frustrated with a runaround from people who could not adequately explain what they wanted, I called the customer service number on the back of my credit card. What did I get? Another person with the same over-powering accent and inability to carry on a conversation not addressed on his queue card!

I thought: “I’ll bet if I started paying my bill in rupees instead of dollars I could get an English speaker on the phone!”

At the other end of the employment spectrum, low-tech jobs, which were once going to our youth, are now going en masse to the waves of illegal immigrants washing over so many states. We say, “They’re taking jobs Americans don’t want.” This might have been valid five years ago. But is it true in today’s economy? How many other nations have laws requiring employers to take care of their own people first? Wow, what a novel idea!

I know a young man who, while working as an assistant manager for an apartment complex, saw the same Social Security number cross his desk eight times in less than two months! Bringing the problem to the attention of the unit manager, he was told, “It’s all right; they’re hard working people.” Shortly after the incident, this frustrated young American was fired.

We talk of “hard workers” and “good people” — which in most cases is very true — but, must we ignore the word “illegal?” Do we get to pick parts of the legal system we choose to uphold? People who do that were once called criminals.

Of course, we have the power to stop both of these deleterious behaviors; yet we seem to lack the will, as if burying our heads in the sand long enough will make the problem go away.

Perhaps then, Mark Twain was right when he said that common sense was the least common of all the senses. Even so, if this nation is to survive, it is plain we’re going to have to store away the Pollyanna Feel Good philosophies and break out a number of common sense detectors … quickly!

William J. Denham lives in Lake Stevens.

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