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Common sense ideas go a long way to making things right

February 24, 2008
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer
Some day I’ll start paying better attention to things.

While eating supper a few days back, I caught the end of a feature bit on a kid in California — I think it was California — who was making a name for himself by overcoming severe birth defects. His foster family encouraged him, telling him he could do anything — he just needed to find a way to do it.

I missed most of the story, but I remember hearing him say his body was deformed because his mother did drugs when she was pregnant. Big-time drugs. Then, she abandoned the infant at the hospital. He wasn’t expected to live, but his little heart was stronger than expected and he wouldn’t give in.

He looked like he was about 12 years old, but I don’t know that. And I don’t know for sure that he was in California. What I do remember, though, is that he’s trying to get a law enacted that would cut down, if not stop, the number of people doing drugs.

It’s so simple I’m surprised someone hasn’t thought of it yet. (And if I’ve stolen that line from somewhere, I’m sorry. It seems like I’ve heard it before, but it might be because I use it all the time.)

Anyway, this kid wants three things. He wants a law passed to make it mandatory that people on welfare — relief, on the dole, whatever — be subject to random drug tests. Second, anyone found to be using drugs will be offered help. Third, if they refuse help, their aid would be cut.

As I said, it’s so simple I’m surprised no one has thought of it yet.

This kid doesn’t propose drastic measures. He just, in his youth, sees a plausible way to keep pregnant women from using drugs and keeping other children from having to go through what he’s learned to overcome.

What he thinks makes sense, which pushes my mind to things that don’t make sense, and the worst on that end is money paid to professional athletes. Honest to St. John, it’s criminal what an owner is willing to pay to an athlete just so the team might win a football super bowl or basketball championship or baseball world series.

They pass along the increases in salary as increases in ticket prices, and though it seems there’s always someone willing to pay for a ticket no matter the cost, the continually rising prices keeps many people home watching the games on television.

We used to go to Milwaukee Brewers baseball games when Robin Yount and Paul Molitor were heroes of the game. Granted, that’s a while back, but all three of us — my husband, daughter and myself — could attend the game, eat supper out afterward and still have gas money to get home and some left over to keep us going until the next pay day.

Last time my husband went to a Brewers game by himself, the ticket cost more than the three of us paid. If not more, pretty close to it.

See, that, to me, is wrong. While I understand they can get huge ticket prices, they also risk losing baseball fans. I grew up idolizing my dad’s ball buddies and I carried the love of the game into adulthood. Now I don’t even watch televised games.

So, like the youngster with his wish list for drug users, I’ve got a wish list for pro athletes. And, mind you, this is for those who feel they’re entitled to $10 million a year or thereabouts.

First, stop being so greedy. You may be worth millions to your team, but how on earth can you spend even that much money?

Second, if you refuse to cut your own salary, play a game every week for a charity. Give the whole of that game’s money to some group, organization or city that needs a shot in the financial arm. But do it anonymously. Giving money to get your name mentioned isn’t really giving. It’s buying attention.

Third, start a group of players willing to look into growing demand for higher contracts. If everybody agrees to drop pay, make sure the owners agree to drop ticket prices and the beer vendors agree to drop the price of a cold one. The decline would be self-perpetuating.

Maybe some of the money saved could be put in a national fund to take care of babies born to mothers who do drugs during pregnancy. Now, that would be a good use for the money.

So long friends, until the next time when we’re together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or


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