This I Believe

William - Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Entered on April 21, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: equality

My Beliefs on Some of Life’s Little Mysteries

When it comes to statements about beliefs, a single belief or one guiding principle is probably insufficient for me. Life is just too complex and varied. As a lapsed Episcopalian, I’m guided by several “little” beliefs – perhaps along the lines of a Nicene Creed for living.

For example, I believe a first-class stamp should be good for one first-class posting whenever you get around to using it. I resent having to buy two-cent stamps to make my older 37-cent stamps worth a first-class mailing again. There is something unsettling about having to up-grade a stamp that was sold as being “first-class” in order to regain its original class standing. Once a “first,” apparently is not always a “first” at the Postal Service.

I believe all consumers are born equal. That’s why, when I go to the grocery store, I don’t like seeing signs giving two prices for an item: one for the average walk-in customer like me and a lower, special price for the customers who have joined the anointed, card-carrying, loyal repeat shoppers group. If the store is willing to sell 10 soup packets for a dollar, why should I need the store’s shopper card to get that price? It’s not as if joining a store’s elite shopper community is difficult – I haven’t been turned down yet. It seems all you need to belong is a name and an address – not very exclusive really. I just don’t like having to carry around another piece of plastic in my wallet.

I believe a popular vote should determine who becomes president. I’ve never understood why the Electoral College works the way it does and, frankly, why elections have to go to college when so many American voters have trouble reading these days doesn’t make any sense. Can’t we just make it simple: whoever gets the most votes cast by citizens wins. That’s the way it works on TV’s American Idol and viewers keep coming back for more. No wonder voter turnouts are less than one might expect in the world’s leading democracy.

Lastly, I believe gasoline prices should behave like other commodities in the marketplace. There’s something fundamentally wrong when I fill up my wife’s car at the gas station yesterday and then bring my vehicle to the same gas station today and pay more for the exact same product. First, it is unfair because her car gets better gas mileage than mine. But, more importantly, why does a change in crude oil prices today cause the price of gas produced from crude oil purchased 6 months ago to go up tomorrow at the pump? Plastics are made with petroleum-based chemicals and I haven’t noticed the price of plastic trash bags bouncing up or down lately. If there is a drought in the corn-producing belt, the price of popcorn doesn’t shoot up overnight. Each time I fill up, I feel “used;” but, I fill up anyway — I’m addicted to my mobility.