‘Cause you can don’t mean you should’
by Milan Vodicka, Ph.D
I noticed the title of this writing as a song in the repertoire of the famed guitarist of our time, Joe Bonamassa. It is fitting to my recent experiences – and observations – relating to the general environment we live in.
Let me start with some questions, of many, that can (should they?) arise within this frame. Ask yourself – when I can talk on my mobile phone, should I talk in line at the post office, or the grocery store, in the library, or on a public bus? When I can dislike and oppose any taxes or tax increases, should I, at the same time, support tariffs on imports or any “fees?” When I can like and be proud of a two-hundred-year-old tradition, should I keep liking and be proud of it in today’s conditions? Extended to organizations: When they can make robocalls to your home anytime day or night, should they? When they can force you to “agree” to any condition for a product or service that is entirely scuttled if you would dare to disagree with any particular condition, should they?
As you probably already surmised, my answer to all these questions, and many similar ones, is “no, I should not, you should not, they should not.” Here is why. The “should” or “should not” relate to the future. Climate change is a perfect example. What will happen will happen, irrespective what you might or might not think. It will depend entirely on the interplay of many factors, human activity being one of them. This is the law of karma. Effect follows causes and conditions.
Stories, especially personal stories, are tools to get a particular point of view across. Let me offer some.
With regard to “phone people.” When I asked a gentleman in the post office line to “please, have your conversation outside,” his response was “you are rude!” The lady in the library, “I have First Amendment rights to free speech.” One supervisor, “they do not do anything illegal.”
Many times the phone users do not realize that due to the lack of acoustic feedback through the phone they are not quite hearing themselves. Consequently, they speak very loudly, in contrast to the voice intensity they would use to have a conversation with someone next to them. Overall, this a classic case of overlapping freedoms. One person’s junkyard is another person’s treasure.
Tariffs and various fees are taxes, under another name. Of course, people are led to confuse the meaning, with the assessment next. Taxes are bad, tariffs are badly needed. Should they? Tariffs are taxes on us, the consumers, also with other consequences. Less choice, higher prices. Hurray for “America First!”
The Electoral College, yes, a two-hundred-year-old tradition. Should it still be used now that we have technology, social media, and instant communications? Do you know that to date, fourteen states and Washington D.C. enacted the National Popular Vote legislation? It stipulates that all state’s electoral votes will go the candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide. This represents 189 votes of 538 available. Of course, 270 (the majority) votes are needed in order to obsolete the Electoral College.
The telephone, as it existed and (to a degree) still exists, is also obsolete. In many cases, Email and text messaging displaced the traditional phone conversations. Yet, organizations run on inertia, similar to the insistence on black LP records, audio tapes, or CDs to play music. Especially the automated calls waking you up at six o’clock in the morning or annoyingly ringing throughout the day – not to mention computerized responses – are making the telephone less than desirable.
For “contracts” as manifested these days, I shall address only one of their aspects. It is the statement “I read and understand this.” This is a self-certification that is not worth a broken penny. If I understood, it would be entirely based on my understanding of the meaning of the words therein. Because of this type of “understanding as I understand it” we need lawyers. And politicians! “I read and understand the Constitution.” Really? Just watch the lawyerly daily contests on the political scene!
Furthermore, these contracts are typically so long and loaded with details that it is impossible to remember them. We can keep signing them, pretending understanding, but should we?
While you can ignore all of that, with no action on your part, should you? This is a question only you can answer.