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Mitchell: If the President and Governor Really Want to Help …

President Barack Obama delivered his last State of the Union speech on the same day Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant delivered his last inaugural message.

Even though they are not exactly twins when it comes to their politics, there was a pattern. Both talked about where we had been, where we are now and what’s left to do.

Both offered some specifics, but as is also often the case, most recommendations were “conceptual,” meaning short on specifics. But fear not, here — offered humbly — is a list of enactments that could make life in America and Mississippi better, or at least less stressful.

• After each evening’s last show, movie theaters must discard all unsold popcorn. This, quite obviously, would overcome the issue of matinee patrons paying $20 for buckets of chewy kernels. Popcorn should not be chewy.

• Television commercials for products designed to bring relief to those with reluctant bowels may no longer contain motion graphics showing exactly how the product gets things moving. We can get the picture without seeing the picture.

• At least one story in every local newscast must be accompanied by video that does not include the red and/or blue strobe lights of emergency vehicles, a politician or both. We all know these images “test well” in terms of holding the attention of an audience, but really …

• Officially ban Sharia law, except in the case of people who enter the 10-item checkout line with 50 items. These people would be taken to the front of stores and have each item in their baskets hurled at them.

• Every car advertisement must include a testimonial from at least one customer who actually paid the price being advertised for the car displayed.

• Force health-service providers to use the “on time or else” approach to office visits. You know, when a builder promises to finish a job by a certain date, the contract often calls for penalties for every extra day. If a clinic schedules a patient for 8 a.m., puts said patient in a tiny cubicle about 9:45 and the doctor comes in at 11, well, that visit should just about be free.

• Parents who wish to inflict physical pain on their children may continue to do so, as long as the venue selected is not a public shopping area or park. The term “park” includes theme parks, and any parent choosing to wallop a child at a Disney venue or any of the other “happiest places on Earth” would be required to empty every diaper bin in every restroom of the park for the duration of their stay. No gloves, either.

• Prohibit credit card companies from charging any late fee greater than the balance owed. A person a day late on a $7 debt could no longer be charged $35. Similarly, banks could not charge fees greater than the amount of a bounced check.

• Require people who insist on wearing sidearms in accordance with their Second Amendment rights to also wear a Stetson, boots, spurs and to walk bowl-legged. They would also be required to greet everyone by saying, “Howdy, partner.”

• In the same vein, require people who insist on sagging their pants to wear T-shirts featuring penguins (who waddle in similar fashion) on the front and back. Happy feet, indeed.

• Television talk shows featuring people sitting around a table to gab must contain at least one person who is remotely familiar with facts concerning the topic.

• Require that any lawmaker grousing about money Mississippi “loses” when residents buy Powerball tickets explain exactly where the $6.2 billion has gone that Mississippi has collected from casino patrons since 1992.

• Notifications of winnings of random Internet lotteries and all offers of great wealth from Nigerian princes or others must be made in person. Also, all unsolicited mail delivered by the Postal Service must be returnable to the sender at the expense of the sender.

• Require any person who wishes to voice an opinion about public education to spend one day in a public school.

• Bring back the pillory for people who litter, curse in public, spit (except during athletic events when it seems to be required), park poorly, have messy yards and don’t pick up their pets’ poop.

• And an oldie-goldie: Pay every employee every penny earned, then require each employed person to remit, in cash, federal taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, state taxes and every other tax and fee that is deducted before “net compensation” is paid.

Not big measures. But they would change the world.


Charlie Mitchell is a Mississippi journalist. Write to him at cmitchell43@yahoo.com.

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