5 Everyday Activities That Should Require a License
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 ...
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.
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.
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.
Using Self-Service Machines of Any Sort
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.
"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.
You know what's a huge bummer? Any commercial featuring the music of Sarah McLachlan. That's because her songs seem to be the perfect accompaniment to scenes of abject misery. So far, the subject of her most depressing commercials have been the good puppies and kitties of the world, putting on their best "Why did this maniac just chain me up in the backyard and leave me here?" faces in an effort to drum up donations for the ASPCA.
I have it on good authority that this one is faking it.
It's a worthy cause that most of us would prefer didn't exist, especially in commercial form. Completely eliminating animal abuse from the world is never going to be possible, of course, but would it be so terrible if we put some qualifications in place that a person must meet before taking responsibility for the life of another living thing? Maybe even just own a plant for a month to verify that you're capable of remembering to feed something other than yourself on at least a semi-regular basis? Spider plants are really easy to take care of, and the name makes it sound sort of pet-like. How about that? If you can't keep a spider plant alive for a month, it's probably a good sign you aren't ready to parent a cat either.
You're definitely not ready for a spider cat.
If your pet is a rescue, the shelter probably even took some steps to make sure you weren't some lunatic looking to open a local chapter of Bad Newz Kennels. Does that happen when you buy a pet at one of those disgusting stand-alone pet stores? That was an actual question. I have no idea, but I can't imagine the guidelines are too stringent if they do. Guidelines are what we need, though, because when a person takes on the responsibility of owning a pet only to realize it's not something they have much interest in doing, things don't tend to end well for the animal. The caring for a plant idea is obviously not a viable one, but can we at least run the same background check we make people go through to buy a gun or something to make sure they aren't crazy?
That's definitely not going to catch every terrible pet owner waiting to happen, but it can't hurt, right?
Hey, speaking of things that should be kept on a leash ...
Taking Your Kids Out in Public
Be honest -- you'd secretly love it if there was some magical means to ensure that the only people who procreate are those who can handle the responsibility. The problem is, it's a difficult program to enact without punishing kids for the crime of having idiots for parents. That doesn't change the fact that some do, though, and it would be awfully nice if we could put a stop to that nonsense. Maybe a parenting license is the way to do it?
Do I have any statistics or source links to back up that idea? Nope, just a longstanding desire to hold parents accountable when their kids climb all over shit in public and generally make the lives of people around them temporarily unbearable. Unfortunately, banning kids from public places is almost always an option that proves unpopular, especially in restaurants, the one place it's needed the most.
The kid has done nothing more than turn around and the dad already knows the night is ruined.
The reason for that is simple: No one believes their kid is bad, so they think their freedom to take children to inappropriate places is being infringed upon because of the actions of a few bad apples. They're wrong, though; every kid is bad from time to time, and some are bad all the goddamn time. The deciding factor in which side of that fence a kid falls on is usually effective parenting. If Mom and Dad aren't willing to take responsibility for keeping their kids under control in public, and they very definitely are not, it's time to start cutting the problem off at the source.
I propose we make prospective parents take a test about appropriate public behavior. If they pass, give them a card to flash at the door of any establishment that says we trust them to keep their hellions tame. If they fail, sorry, the kids stay home. I know that's harsh, but I don't really care, I just want to enjoy Outback Steakhouse in the relative peace of blaring televisions and a waitstaff forced to sing "Happy Birthday" every 35 minutes to unappreciative diners.
Case in point, this bitch just wants to talk about when her food is coming.
Not sure if you noticed, but there was nothing in that sentence that implied kids would be involved. No, not even the part about birthday songs. Kids already get birthday parties. As you age, sometimes the sweet harmonies of a chorus of Hooters girls singing birthday wishes in your direction is all you get.
It's always your birthday at Hooters, provided it's really your birthday that day and you have valid ID.
Leave that stuff for adults. If the kids must celebrate their birthday in the presence of chain restaurant food, go to Chuck E. Cheese's like a normal family.
I know it's hard to hear, parents of America, but your kids are becoming a menace. If you can't sufficiently prove you have the parenting chops to keep them contained in the presence of adults, put your family outings to the local sports bar on hold until you straighten that shit out.
You don't need a license to operate a camera phone. Be sure to head over and submit to our pocket film contest: If Great Horror Movies Had a Budget of $1.