Wish list: A tougher FCC to a smoking ban

by Jim Longworth

This is the time of year when people of all faiths (and even those with no faith) are asked by a loved one, “What do you want for Christmas?” This ironically non-denominational question elicits responses that involve mainly jewelry, clothing and electronics. This year, though, I decided to prepare a holiday wish list more befitting a columnist. And so here, in no particular order of importance, are some of the items I would like to have during this magical season.

1. I wish that grocery stores would designate a special checkout lane just for customers with coupons. I’m not one to turn down a good bargain, but some folks are obsessive about coupons and it can take forever to process them. I just don’t like to wait for service, and that brings me to my next item.

2. I wish that Verizon would suffer a massive computer meltdown and lose all of its records. That way I wouldn’t have to wait until next April for my contract to expire so I could purchase a new phone now at a reasonable price. As it is, if I want a $99 razor phone I must pay $299, unless I wait to renew my service agreement. If this makes any sense to you, please e-mail me and let me know how.

3. I wish that people who are stupid enough to go mountain climbing in a snowstorm would be required to leave a sizeable deposit with local law enforcement agencies before they embark. These daredevil idiots think of no one but themselves, except when they get stranded and we taxpayers have to foot the bill for a rescue operation.

4. Speaking of tax dollars, why is it that you and I get stuck with regular real estate reassessments while Dell and hundreds of other companies get millions of dollars in tax breaks and perks? Yes they create jobs, but they also create wealth for themselves and can afford to pay for land, water, sewer systems and taxes. Because they don’t, schools and colleges continue to cry for more funding. If these big corporations are all about reducing unemployment, then why are they receiving corporate welfare?

5. I wish that every CEO of a major corporation could serve 10 years in prison for every plant he closes in America and then re opens in Mexico, Haiti or Puerto Rico. Today’s average CEO salary is 530 times that of his workers. That should be a crime in itself.

6. I wish that American companies who offer telephonic customer service would hire people who actually speak English. How many hours have we spent on the phone trying to explain our problem to a foreigner? I am not xenophobic, but I am phonophobic (fear of being on the phone too long without being helped).

7. I wish that the FCC would grow a pair of testosterone-producing body parts so they could crack down on local TV stations that no longer produce local programs. Instead, the FCC is still concerned with (pardon the expression) “fallout” from Janet Jackson’s breast. If the FCC wants to protect us from indecency, then they should order all TV stations to cancel Jerry Springer, “Fear Factor”, “Big Brother”, “Maury” and every judge show and replace them with locally-produced community affairs programs. The public owns the airwaves. TV stations only have a license to broadcast on those airwaves. If you’re tired of all the crap on television, then write a complaint to the FCC and demand that local TV stations actually produce local programs. What a novel idea.

8. I wish the NCAA would require coaches to recruit from inside our country, and only then among kids who actually belong in college. Our universities were established to educate young people, not serve as farm clubs for the professional ranks. Here’s how to solve the problem: Establish a rule whereby coaches can only sign players who have been citizens of the United States for at least five years. Then bar the NBA and NFL from signing any scholarship player who has failed to graduate.

9. I wish that our government would start deporting illegal immigrants. Erecting a 700-mile fence is only a symbolic gesture initiated by pandering politicians who haven’t the courage or wisdom to devise an equitable system of humane deportation.

10. Speaking of deportation, I wish we could send George Bush back to Texas. His boneheaded, arrogant invasion of Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of people while lining the pockets of defense contractors. He may be “the decider,” but I wish he was the “leaver.”

11. And while we’re on the topic of politicians, I wish that John Edwards would pay his 2004 campaign debts before running in 2008. He owes nearly $400,000 to vendors, many of which are small businesses that struggle to carry his debt. Edwards talks a lot about the two Americas, but all he seems to be doing is creating more poverty, especially among people he has stiffed.

12. I wish that developers and city planners would stop overbuilding new structures while thousands of existing houses, apartments, offices and retail spaces remain vacant.

13. I wish that the Feds would abolish income tax and instead rely only on sales and property tax. There is too much pork barrel spending around the country, and I’d rather have the money in my pocket than have it go for a teapot museum or aid to Iraq.

14. I wish we would let policemen keep money recovered in drug and gun busts. These brave men and women are underpaid and should enjoy the spoils of their victory over drug lords.

15. I wish that so-called religious people would stop castigating gays, and stop telling me what TV shows and movies I shouldn’t watch. America was founded on freedom of religion, but it was also founded on freedom from religion. Preachers and priests don’t have such a good record in the morality department these days, so they should refrain from casting the first stone.

16. I wish the state would pass a law banning smoking in all restaurants. So-called non-smoking areas are a joke and provide no protection from secondhand smoke, which we now know causes death. People who can’t refrain from lighting up while eating a meal are seriously addicted to two things: cigarettes and rude behavior.

17. Finally, I wish that our troops could come home from Iraq very soon without suffering any further casualties in the interim. We need their skills and bravery here at home, protecting our borders and our ports against the threat of terrorism. Here they can make a difference. In Iraq they can only make targets for snipers.

I know that my wish list is lengthy and somewhat impractical, but that’s why it’s called a wish list. What do you want for Christmas?

Jim Longworth is host of “Triad Today” which can be seen Friday mornings at 6:30 a.m. on ABC 45 (cable channel 7), and Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on MY48 (cable channel 15).