Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid |

Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid

Todd Hartley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Sometimes, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to shut the hell up, stop occupying everywhere and tea partying everything, stop waving our guns and religion and crying about who gets taxed what, stop blaming terrorists, politicians, climate change, bankers, socialists and everyone who doesn’t agree with us for all our problems, and take a good long look at ourselves and the way we live.

Everyone’s been crying poverty for the last three years, but let’s see how broke we really are. Raise your hand if you pay for a cell phone each month. Raise your hand if you pay for Internet access. Raise your hand if you pay for TV. Raise a hand for all your credit cards, car insurance, health insurance, mortgage, HOA dues, print and online subscriptions, gym membership, sewer, trash, electricity, lawn care, gas and every other monthly expense you’ve signed up for.

How many hands do you have up? I, personally, better be a mutant octopus, because I’ve got like 12.

How much do you figure each day costs you before you even get out of bed in the morning? Seriously. A hundred bucks? Two hundred? For some of you, I bet each and every day of your life costs you $250 or more. Do you know how many people in the rest of the world live on less than $250 a day? All of them. We’re not poor; we just spend more money than we have.

Lots of people are up in arms about medical marijuana, too, but we’re all drug addicts. According to a recent report, more people in America die from an overdose of prescription narcotic drugs than from heroine and cocaine combined. Apparently, we lose about 40 people a day to prescription drugs.

Why? Because doctors write so many prescriptions that sales of narcotic painkillers are up more than 300 percent since 1999. Are we really in that much pain, people? Bear in mind that doesn’t even count all the antidepressants, mood enhancers, anxiety reducers and other pills we convince ourselves we need to get through each day.

That’s what health care has become in America: paying a doctor $500 or so to say it’s OK to take drugs that are supposed to solve our problems for us. I assure you, doctors don’t deserve all the blame for that. Plenty of responsibility lies with us.

America is the eighth-fattest country in the world. The seven countries ahead of us are all tiny island nations in the Pacific Ocean. A 2010 World Health Organization report declared that 79 percent of Americans are overweight. Do you know how many people that is? Once you weed out ultramarathoners and kids like my son who don’t eat anything, that’s pretty much everyone else in America. Oh, but I’m sure taxing sugary drinks and suing McDonald’s is going to fix that.

And everyone decries the state of education in this country, but maybe it’s the kids who aren’t working, not the system. The average American kid spends 1,500 hours a year watching TV and only 900 hours a year in school. The average American teenager spends about 72 hours a week using electronic devices like cell phones, computers, TVs and video games. I imagine lots of kids are so plugged-in that they’re completely unaware there’s a real world around them.

We’ve become a society of debt-ridden, drugged-up, fat, stupid, finger-pointing, whiny losers, and it’s so freaking beneath us. This is America, for Pete’s sake. This is the greatest nation on Earth, and most of us all still believe that. A recent poll indicated that nine in 10 Americans feel that there is no better country in the world.

So what’s wrong? We’ve gotten complacent. We’ve started taking being American for granted. Instead of working to make this country prosper, we’ve started assuming we’re entitled to a share of that prosperity without contributing anything to it. We act like the world owes us everything simply because we’re American. It decidedly does not.

Here’s what I think we need to do: Stop yelling at one another, stop blaming everyone else, stop fearing everything, turn off the gadgets, get some exercise and start being more active participants in our lives and the lives of our kids.

We might not be able to personally fix or execute the government, but if each of us starts working to improve ourselves, I bet it would go a long way toward correcting what ails this country. I’m going to start by skipping lunch.