Jewish World Review July 14, 2000 / 11 Tamuz, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- IF YOU'VE ATTEMPTED to engage in a simple commercial transaction recently, you will instantly grasp my point that the unemployment rate is far too low. It used to be only outside of New York City that the simple act of purchasing a pack of gum could lead to 911-level altercations. The nation's capital, in particular, has long been crying out for a military occupation by the Better Business Bureau.
Like everyone else, I used to try to work around the abject incompetence so prevalent among the Washington, D.C., sales force. We natives quickly learned to adapt by acquiring a series of D.C. survival skills: buying necessities in bulk, abandoning all but the most crucial purchases, and never forgetting to bring reading material to the store. I once gave up contact lenses for a month just to avoid having to purchase saline solution. If anyone ever opened my closets they would have thought I belonged to some crazy survivalist cult that believes in storing a year's worth of toilet paper and Diet Coke.
But the only sure way to avoid a coronary or a third reading of "War And Peace" was to buy your dental floss and saline solution in New York. Everyone always thought I whined about missing New York and denounced Washington because I missed the opera, the museums or the restaurants. All I really missed was being able to buy toilet paper in under 45 minutes.
Indeed, the one tourist attraction in the nation's capital I would steadfastly insist that New Yorkers visit was the old People's Drug Stores. Nothing gave you the flavor of the city with such precision. One of their crowd-pleasing tricks was to try to slip you your change -- of a dollar or more -- in pennies. Another was to put the wrong merchandise in your shopping bag. And there was no item for sale in the entire store that did not require a "price check."
The reason New York was so smooth and efficient wasn't that poor inexperienced New Yorkers are smarter than the intelligentsia in Washington -- though they are. It wasn't even that the average New Yorker's time, in contradistinction to the average Washingtonian's, was worth more than $2.19 per hour. It was that Leona Helmsley is the typical New Yorker.
Nothing improves efficiency like the last 17 customers screeching at shop owners for a want of alacrity. You never had to be the harridan in New York, because everyone else was. (By contrast, I constantly wondered how it could possibly be that in Washington I was the first customer who had to explain, for example, that when I dropped off my watch or computer for repair, I was eventually going to want it back.)
But now even New York is run by the unemployable. Like the new virulent strains of tuberculosis, the new breed of incompetents are incurable. Even obnoxious New Yorkers can't browbeat these workers into shape.
I had an ugly D.C. flashback recently while trying to buy a tasty Whopper at a Manhattan Burger King. I was in a rush and there were only five customers in line, but more than a half-dozen visible employees. After waiting for a few minutes with absolutely no reduction in the line, however, it became apparent that only one employee was actually doing what he gets paid to do. Two employees were eating, and four were standing in a circle behind the counter chatting with one another as the line continued to grow.
There is no wage minimum enough for these people to be paid. They weren't even competent at being incompetent: If you're going to screw off, you're supposed to do it in a back room, not openly in sight of enraged customers.
I know we Republicans were wildly enthusiastic about getting layabouts off welfare and into jobs, but I've changed my mind. Hard work may be good for the soul, necessary for self-respect, a building block to a bright future, blah, blah, blah, but their little life-training programs are standing between me and stuff I need. I now embrace the welfare system as a Safe Streets program for capitalism.
If it's so important to teach the indolent to wake up to alarm clocks, as I used to think it was, the government could create little Potemkin stores that the ineffectual could run for each other. The Junior League could shop there out of charity. But I'm busy. There is no reason to have malingerers mucking up commercial activity for the rest of us. I'm looking for a presidential candidate who will promise to boost the unemployment rate through the roof, just so I can get a Whopper
JWR contributor Ann Coulter is the author of High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton. You may visit the Ann Coulter Fan Club by clicking here.
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