Phydeaux Speaks
October 1999

Joseph Heller was a man ahead of his time. Either that, or he is responsible. Responsible for what, you may ask? Everyone uses his book title as an excuse. Catch-22. And, as usual, something developed by the Army has been assimilated into all aspects of life.

I'm sure most of you have either seen the movie or read the book (or both). For the few of you who don't know, and I can hardly believe that each of you hasn't encountered this situation at least once, a catch-22 is when A won't happen until B does. Unfortunately, B cannot happen until A does.

I am afraid to get into details of what causes my ire, not for fear of reprisal, but because the Publisher only allows me so much space each month. Suffice it to say that as I write this I am driving (betcha didn't know that dogs could drive) an uninsured, invalid-tag-affixed-to vehicle. (On top of all that, my driver's license is suspended.) This all stems from an expired inspection sticker violation over two years ago, the fee from which has long since been paid.

The way it works is, when you are ticketed it immediately shows up, thanks to the wonder of computers, on your record. I applaud this, as it is efficient and appropriate. Due to the inestimable intelligence of the state government, however, when one pays said fine/fee for the violation, you, the violator, must take a receipt to the DMV to prove it. It is not automatically entered on your record. You are not told this, by the way, at any point until you try to get your license renewed, or are stopped on t he highway for driving with a suspended license (this is not what happened to me). That is just the beginning of the saga of Phydeaux and his car, but you get the drift.

Things like these really make a person think. Is not the government supposed to be responsible to the people? North Carolina residents, when was the last time you had to speak with someone with the DMV in Raleigh? Do you know that there is no toll free number and that whenever you call, you usually spend at least thirty minutes on hold? You then must tell your story to several different people, etc... You all know this story. Oh yeah, the Raleigh DMV is open Mon-Fri 9-5, when long distance rates are th e highest. What a convenience for the citizen. Here's a question: How many government officials own stock in AT&T, Sprint, etc.?

I'm beginning to think that the Gen X anarchists have a valid point. Maybe it's time to rethink the way government works. When was the last time a constitutional convention was held? Can we let government continue to operate the way it does? What can we, as simple citizens, do about correcting the system? Do we take the advice of Thomas Jefferson, who said "a little rebellion from time to time is a good thing."? And, if so, how far should we take it? How can we assure the rights of the common man?

Wow, that's a lot of questions. I could come up with hundreds more. For example, how many of you readers are registered to vote? How many of you actually do? The responses to these two questions may answer all of the earlier ones.

Mayhap it is time to resurrect the Equal Rights Amendment. Yes, it was originally proposed by the Women's Liberation Movement, but equal rights are for all. Think about it... if the ERA were to be added to the Constitution, why, that would eliminate the need for all affirmative action programs. Their "mission statement" would now be directly addressed in the pages of the Constitution. Take the personnel from Affirmative Action and transfer them to the DMV to answer phones. On a more local level, the re ce nt grumbling about the hiring practices of the city of Asheville would be taken care of in the Constitution. From now on, the most qualified person would be hired for each and every job. Utopia would break out. We just have to keep the lawyers out of it.

Anyway, we each need to think about what we can do to actually change things, and not just grumble over the morning paper. And this is nothing new, either. Two hundred and twenty-three years ago a group of men met in Philadelphia to discuss these very things. They did a damn good job, but there's no reason to think that even they felt that it was a finished product. Times have changed, we have more history than ever to look at. Let us finally learn, and stop repeating.

See ya.

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[Direct all comments to Phydeaux at Rapid River, 70 Woodfin Place, Suite 212, Asheville, NC 28801, or email]