Government intervention in our daily lives is a hot topic these days. Why should the lawmakers of the land get to tell us what we can and can't do when they're barely able to keep their own shortcomings in check? I don't know the answer to that and I don't care, because if you ask me, the government doesn't interfere in our lives enough.
At some point in time, we realized that things like driving and practicing medicine are activities that only those competent enough to at least pass a test of some sort should be trusted to perform. I think it's time we extend that practice into a few other areas of life. For example ...
#5. Accessing the Internet
In the days when having an Internet connection in your house was still a rarity, most people outside the tech industry didn't realize how much of our lives would eventually be spent online. If more of us did, we might have been a bit more selective about where we sent all those AOL disks back in the '90s.
Was there any way to know how badly this would end?
We weren't, though, and now we're paying the price in so many ways, it would take at least a dozen Crackeds to list them all. With that in mind, I'd like to focus on one problem in particular -- computer viruses.
In 2012 alone, viruses, spyware, and all that other insidious stuff milked American households to the tune of nearly $5 billion. Things have probably gotten too out of hand to put a stop to the tentacle porn and cat memes and all those other things that sometimes make the Internet terrible, but making people prove they're capable of protecting a computer before they buy one is totally doable.
It could be as simple as the test we already have to take to get a driver's license, except instead of highway safety, the questions would be geared toward proving you know better than to open an email attachment from an unknown sender or help a Nigerian prince transfer his fortune to a bank in the United States.
Helpful hint: Most legitimate emails look like this.
This is basic red light/green light stuff. If you can wrap your head around concepts like stop and go, you should be able to apply it to what emails you open and what websites you visit.
I'm not saying it would fix everything completely, of course. Making people get a license to drive certainly hasn't made the highways accident-free, after all. It must have made them a little safer, though, and even if not, the concept spawned one of the finest movies of the entire 1980s, so you can still count the program as a success.
RIP whichever of you two died a while back.
Speaking of side victories, can you imagine what it would do for racial harmony in this country if, in order to use the Internet, the elderly had to memorize a few reminders that emails from strangers are rarely a valid source for legitimate news? Just like the Internet itself, little wins like that would spread to nearly every facet of our daily lives, if only we were a little more selective about who gets to go online.
#4. Driving an SUV
Yes, I do know you already have to get a license to operate an SUV, but thanks for asking. The thing is, we're not just talking about driving here. You can't ride a motorcycle without a separate license in any state except Alabama, which is actually more of an indication of how good the idea is than if it were required in all 50 states.
We require that license because riding a motorcycle and driving a car are completely different things, as professional athletes like Kellen Winslow Jr. and Jason Williams (no, not the guy who shot his limo driver) have learned by way of career- (and bone-) shattering accidents that happened while riding motorcycles they didn't have a license to operate. In Winslow's case, he didn't even make it out of the parking lot of the dealership that sold him the bike before his accident happened.
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Don't worry, his abs were unscathed.
Granted, driving a car and driving an SUV are basically the same thing, but maneuvering them isn't the same thing. If you have a driver's license, we already know you can drive. That part isn't in dispute. Can you back your tank-sized vehicle out of a spot in the jam-packed parking lot of a Best Buy in under five minutes, though? Because some people can barely do that in tiny cars with lots of room, as you can see in this infuriating video:
Stuff like that certainly doesn't get easier in a large vehicle. You'll find that evidence here. Unfortunately, the video can't be embedded, so in lieu of running off to watch it right now, just make a mental note that it ends like this ...
Where else were they supposed to park?
... and remembering to come back and check it out later should be no problem. The point is, SUV travel is not an experience that's tailored to every driving style. The safest thing to do is assume that everyone is terrible at it until they're able to prove otherwise.
#3. Using Self-Service Machines of Any Sort
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The rise of self-service kiosks and lanes at places like the post office, airport, and grocery store has kind of been a double-edged sword. On the one hand, being able to skip lines and sassy customer service types in favor of handling business yourself is always a stress reliever. On the other hand, with the wrong customer behind the controls, "self-service" can devolve into "no service for anyone" in no time at all.
It usually happens in one of two ways. Sometimes the person servicing themselves hasn't touched a piece of electronics since the days when most of the world was cassette-based. Inevitably, that mysterious sea of buttons and prompts becomes an impassable quagmire of technological frustration that can only be quelled with the help of at least two low-level employees (usually the two who were helping the people standing in line) and a manager override that will take at least 15 minutes to materialize.
Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
"It's always break time somewhere."
It works both ways, though. Some people get too comfortable with their independence and lose sight of the fact that, at their core, self-service machines are meant to speed things the fuck up. Going through the self-service lane at a grocery store with $600 worth of items is not conducive to this process, nor is dispatching a month's worth of eBay store sales in one fell swoop while the people in line behind you who just wanted to buy a stamp curse under their breath in disgust.
Or what about ATMs? There are still people walking this Earth who do dumb shit like write their pin number directly on their debit card without ever realizing how terrible the idea is until their bank account is cleared out by petty criminals.
They even get to keep the cards after they steal them!
All of these people have one thing in common: Their understanding of how and when to use self-service technology is fundamentally flawed, and the rest of us suffer as a result. Even if, for some reason, it's decided that an actual license is asking too much for this kind of thing when the points in this article are eventually presented to the powers that be, at least make people pass a quick pretest or something to confirm that they can use a self-service machine without making errand running a nightmare for the rest of us. Self-service ineptitude hurts everyone. Cut that shit out.