Throw It Out!

by Dave Schuler on April 21, 2012

In the Washington Post this morning ten different pundits weigh in on things they think we can do without and should throw out in this year’s spring cleaning. Their disposables vary from the trivial to the wrong-headed to the serious.

Among trivial entries the stand-out is “chick flicks”. They used to be called “women’s pictures” and we’ve had them very nearly as long as movies have been made. To what I presume will be Melissa Silverstein’s dismay, I think that not only are movies targeted towards niche markets here to stay but, as the costs of production and distribution decline, we will have many, many more of them.

Thomas Ricks’s serious proposal to eliminate an all-volunteer military, presumably to be replaced with a drafted military, is, sadly, self-refuting. As he himself points out our problem is not with how or why our military is staffed but with how and why our Congress is staffed. As long as we have a Congress that is either willing use military force where military force is not needed or won’t be effective or is willing to allow the president to arrogate Congress’s powers to the same effect, we’ll continue as we have, essentially, since World War II. Whether we have a citizen army or a slave army is less relevant than whether we have a responsible or irresponsible Congress.

The best recommendation, I think, is abolishing software patents. The Patent Office doesn’t have the ability to distinguish between the wheelbarrow and the railway air brake in terms of whether something is obvious or not, software developers don’t have the ability or the means to determine whether they’re violating somebody else’s patent in what they do, and the primary effect of software patents is to strengthen the advantage that big companies have over small ones or individual creators.

Here are some of the things, significant and trivial, that I think should be eliminated:

  • the home mortgage interest deduction
  • movie sequels
  • exemption of benefits, particularly company-paid healthcare insurance, from income for purposes of calculating the income tax
  • stuffed animals with their feet suction-cupped to the windows of vehicles
  • the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998
  • parents who let their children run riot in stores, restaurants, theaters, etc.
  • agricultural subsidies
  • gourmet food for dogs

In our own real-life spring cleaning and at least partially inspired by going through my mom’s seventy years of cancelled checks, we’re going through all of the old bills, receipts, bank statements, and cancelled checks we’ve accumulated over the years and shredding and/or throwing out the things we don’t really need to keep.

What should we get rid of in our national spring cleaning? No individuals, please. Although I was sorely tempted to include some in my little list.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

michael reynolds April 21, 2012 at 9:24 am

1. Reporting on scientific/medical breakthroughs until 5 years have passed from initial discovery.
2. States as political entities, to be replaced with districts.
3. The entire domestic airline industry with the exception of Jet Blue and Virgin America.
4. Hotel electrical plugs hidden behind beds.
5. Ugly compact fluorescent lights.
6. The MPAA
7. Drug laws.
8. The Amazon/B&N/Apple war. Can’t we all just get along and sell my books?
9. Surreptitious use of artificial sweeteners.
10. Throttling of phone data.

Jimbino April 21, 2012 at 11:32 am

1. “Absolutely!” wherever used in place of “yes.”
2. “Decimate” when “devastate” is intended.
3. “Forbidden from doing” when “forbidden to do” is intended.
4. “Risk for disease” when “risk of disease” is intended.
5. “Chance for rain” when “chance of rain” is intended.
6. “The problem is is that” when “the problem is” is intended.
7. “Data is” and “amount of data.” [Data are, media are, strata are, and errata are.]
8. “Gigabyte” and “Gigahertz” and the emetic “Gigs” pronounced with a hard G. Gigantic problem, I say. [see "Back from the Future"]
9. “Brutally raped” when “non-brutally raped” would do.
10. Repeated appeals to abolish the Mortgage Interest Deduction when no explanation whatsoever is given as to how this benefits the homeowner over the renter, who enjoys not only the same deduction, but, in addition, deductions for repairs, expenses and all other fees and assessments passed on to him from his landlord.

PD Shaw April 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Cell phones
The word “factoid”
Bad parents
Gerrymandering
Valentine’s Day
Prequals
The word “natural born citizen”
The designated hitter
Child Strollers for kids able to walk*
Lottery ticket sales at any place I shop

*may aggravate one of Dave’s wishes

Icepick April 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I’m opposed to banning sequals or prequals. Just because most of both suck doesn’t mean they should be banned. Most movies with brand new stories and characters suck, too.

Icepick April 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Dogs for gourmet food?

Icepick April 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm

we’re going through all of the old bills, receipts, bank statements, and cancelled checks we’ve accumulated over the years and shredding and/or throwing out the things we don’t really need to keep.

Don’t get rid of anything until you absolutely KNOW you won’t need it. Better still, make certain you’ve got digital copies stored in different locations.

Signed,
The Voice of Experience

Dave Schuler April 21, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Dear Voice of Experience:

I’m pretty confident I won’t need phone or utility bills from the apartment I lived in 40 years ago. Or receipts and users manuals for appliances we junked a decade ago. Or bank statements from banks that haven’t existed for thirty years. I’m really very conservative about this stuff.

One of the amusing things I’ve found in going through all of this is that I had filed all of the letters I’d received from my bank in its various incarnations telling me that it had been acquired. Clayton Bank => Clayton Metro Bank (General Banks) => Boatman’s Bank of St. Louis County => NationsBank => Bank of America. I had each letter.

Icepick April 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I didn’t think I’d need a record of my monthly expenses and bank records from 12 years ago, either. I was wrong.

Janis Gore April 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Aha! Dave’s a packrat.

Janis Gore April 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm

That’s not being tacky, Dave. It took a son coming home to force me to get rid of clothing from 1985. They still fit, but a 55-year-old shouldn’t wear what a 30-year-old can.

Dave Schuler April 22, 2012 at 9:05 pm

It took a son coming home to force me to get rid of clothing from 1985.

I still wear sweaters I got in 1965. When I die, they’ll go to some of my nephews who should be able to get another several decades of wear out of them.

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