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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Wednesday Writing Assignment

Hi! I'm Ann. Normally I post on my own blog, but kStyle has graciously invited me to contribute to the Wednesday Writing Assignment, so here I am. (Goody: HTML rules with no funny brackets. Do I need to use p tags? Let's see what happens if I don't.)

So here's today's literary challenge:

Massachusetts is probably the happiest state in the country this week. So in honor of Gay Marriage Monday--congrats to all!--I'd like to know:  If you had to propose an amendment to the Constitution, what would it be?  Be as specific as possible.

The problem with this question, of course, is that America can get so complex that it might be impossible to think of just one amendment without needing a dozen others to fill in the loopholes. At first I thought, Well, in my amendment, I would make it illegal to work more than forty hours every week, and everybody would be required to take at least four weeks of vacation every year. I'm a firm believer in the importance of free time--it's essential, I think, for both mental and physical health, and it probably strengthens families more than anything except financial stability--and the fact that the only way some people can survive is to devote all their time to working in a job they probably don't even like bothers me.

But then we'd also need some living wage laws, so people wouldn't have to take three and four jobs to get by. And I'm sure there are some small, employee-owned businesses that can't afford many employees but that still have to be open for many more than forty hours a week. And we'd want universal health care. It snowballs, you see.

So that's out. Then I thought I'd like to amend the Constitution to include a suggestion by Eduardo Galeano in Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World: "[W]ritten into law shall be the crime of stupidity, committed by those who live to have or win, instead of living just to live like the bird that sings without knowing it and the child who plays unaware that he or she is playing." But that's a little vague.

So I think I'll go with media regulation. I'd ban all embedded ads in movies and TV shows; I'd eliminate billboards and other ads that encroach on private life (pasted on buses, stuffed in mailboxes, stuck to foreheads); I wouldn't get rid of commercials, but I'd probably create an advertising fund for small companies, so they can compete with the big ones, and also one for anti-materialism public service announcements. The intention would be to limit the power that money and corporate pressure has over our consumer habits.

Your ideas?


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