Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New IA Texting Law is Indicative of Root Problems in Legislature

The way in which I heard that Iowa had a new texting/driving law was quite ironic. And sadly humorous.


Get this – I was travelling on I-235, headed to one of our hospitals on a pastoral visit, when a reporter broke the news on our local talk radio station. Even as he detailed the legislature’s vote, I glanced to my right at the large black truck coming into the lane next to me. No, the driver – a young lady – wasn’t swerving or driving badly; she was operating the vehicle just fine. But she was applying make-up in full force with multiple fingers, and handling the steering wheel with her knee(s). Her head, like a fishing bobber, was bouncing up and down as she rhythmically glanced from visor mirror to windshield, using every other second to finish farding (that’s the official term for the act of applying makeup while driving).


Okay, let me see if I understand correctly: No texting, but facials are okay? Yep, that’s what I thought. Hmm. Does something seem a little screwy here? You bet it does! But I doubt seriously if our legislature will ever have the guts to outlaw last-minute applications of Mary Kay by Mary and Kay. But we can sure vilify texting.


It seems a more prudent and consistent approach – assuming those leaders who put this forward felt they had to encroach in that way upon yet another aspect of a citizen’s life – would have been to deal with distracted and dangerous driving. I mean, have you not seen Aunt Ethel who, at 79, putts around town with her equally old poodle sharing the driver’s seat and hanging out the window while she does her best to stay in the proper lane? At least Ethel isn’t texting! And what about ole’ Chester who is dropping a couple of burgers down the chute in record bites, all while balancing his over-sized Dew on the cup holder and wiping drops of ketchup off his seat and shirt with greased-laced finger tips? But at least he isn’t texting!  


Why does this action by the Iowa legislature not surprise me? Because its par for the course in recent years. It seems that our recent majority has been really good at making laws about things that don’t matter while avoiding weightier matters of life, morality, and justice.


Try this hypocrisy on for size: While some of our elected leaders debated texting while driving, the Iowa House ignored the will of the people in regards to fundamental marriage issues, continued to approve the murder of unborn babies, and lied about its own financial condition. But at least no one will send a quick text over their Blackberry from their car next July. Whew…I feel safer.


Yeah, right.


Thomas Miller said...

And to top it off our "esteemed" governor gave these guys an A for the work they did this session and doesn't think Iowans want to amend the constitution to say that marriage is between one man and one woman. A storm is brewing and I think after the next election there are going to be more legislators in place, at the state and national levels, that will be listening to their constituents.

Keith Ryan said...

Being a Local politician, (Mayor) I can tell you that it's not always easy to "Know" the desires of the people who elected you to office. Most of the time we conduct the business of the city without any input from residents. Of course, this is not by choice; most people are just too busy with there lives to care about local politics. However, there are times, when a subject is so important, that the people that we represent make the time tell us about it. It's in these moments that I stop talking and just listen. I love that phrase that states, "God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak." (Yeah, I know it's old, but it's still true) There is, of course, the occasional person who is just there to just argue, for the sake of arguing, but for the most part, people really want to give there opinion in a constructive way.

The problem I see, is that many representatives at the State and Federal level spend too much time listening to lobbyists and not enough time listening to the what the average person has to say. I know it's tough, but it's their job to LISTEN, and I think that many have forgotten that. Did you know that as an average citizen, you can only talk to your representative in congress? If you attempt to talk to anyone other than your representative you would need to be registered as a lobbyist. There in lies the problem, if the person who represents you is unreachable, either by choice, or they are too busy talking to lobbyists, you're out of luck. So, it comes as no surprise when I hear that state representatives didn't know the will of the people.

Perhaps, the leaders at the state and federal level could take a clue from those of us at the city level. Sometimes you need to stop talking and just listen. You would be surprised what you can hear when your own voice is not filling your ears with noise. God has a booming voice, but sometimes, it's difficult for us to hear him over own own voices. Of course, if He wanted to, he could get our attention.