Not Questioning Authority

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“You’ve been out of the country for a long time. Maybe you notice it. Most people don’t.”

The subject was hamburger. At a hamburger joint in Rockville, Maryland, the server had asked:

“How would you like that burger cooked?”

“Medium rare,” we replied.

“I’m sorry. We don’t do medium rare,” was the reply.

Why doesn’t a restaurant cook a hamburger the way the customer wants it cooked?

Recently, in Baltimore, we ran into the same sort of thing. At the Peabody Court hotel, we asked the desk clerk if he could have someone pick up our laundry. We had left it neatly on the bed, with a laundry slip all filled out.

“You have to bring it down here,” was his reply.

“What?”

“You have to bring it down yourself.”

“What? Isn’t this a hotel? Aren’t you in the hospitality business?”

Our protests were useless. They wouldn’t pick up the laundry because they had a policy against it. The policy was designed to protect them against customers who tried to take advantage of them by claiming laundry had not been returned. Now, a guest has to bring his dirty laundry to the front desk and have it inspected!

The restaurant had similarly taken measures to protect itself from customers who might get sick from uncooked beef. As at the hotel, the precautions are for the benefit of the business, not the customer.

“Oh…and I heard something on the radio…” we continued with our conversation with a colleague. “There is a proposal in Maryland to make it a criminal offense to smoke in a car in which a child under the age of three is riding. Already, you can’t smoke in bars or restaurants. There doesn’t seem to be any limit to the improvements a legislature can make, does there?”

“Yes. And the most amazing thing is that people will go along with anything. There is no resistance. Nobody thinks anymore, they just follow silly rules and procedures. I was just on a trip outside the US with a group of older people. We traveled around other countries with no problem. But coming back to the US was a hassle. They carefully searched all these old people…as if they really thought these folks posed a threat to homeland security.

“This war against terror probably conditioned Americans not to question authority. It’s been going on for 9 years now. As far as I can remember there were only two incidents in all that time…and they were almost comic. One guy set his underwear on fire…the other lit his shoes…”

Regards,

Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning Australia

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail The Daily Reckoning.
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Comments

  1. I’ve also noticed that people get angry about the most pointless stuff, but are happy to sit by quietly while the important things are taken away from them.

    I guess it’s easier than thinking though..

    Anyone ever wonder if the outrage media we’re subjected to so often is designed to wear us out as much as entertain us?

    Unpopular Truth
    February 4, 2010
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  2. Unpopular Truth

    i think the media has a lot to answer for in dropping its standards of integrity but i dont think its a deliberate ploy to wear down the masses. just that it sells despite itself and they are like kids in a candy store, unable to stop themselves from selling out and cashing in.

    Mr. Bill Bonner – welcome to australia, we’ve got a law for everything! some wise person (?) once remarked: australians, hate being told what to do, love telling everyone else what to do.

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  3. Deception begins in childhood. Parents lie to their kids by telling them that santa and the easter bunny are real, whilst at the same time telling them that fairy tales are false – but fairy tales are more informative and true than many textbooks. The kids grow up rejecting ancestral wisdom but accepting any lie that’s shiny, sexy and sweet. This is not a mistake but deliberate – it makes money for businesses, makes people weak and controllable, and lets the thieves in fancy suits get away with unspeakable crimes.

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  4. Australia is ranked #3 on the Heritage Index of Economic Freedom. But, it’s nice to see people complain that there are too many laws.

    Daniel Newhouse
    February 4, 2010
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  5. Here’s one I encountered recently which made my guts churn.

    We had a portable Cot we thought we would drop off to the Salvation army thinking some family in need could use it.

    “No we don’t accept cots, prams or play equipment” was the response
    “Why?” says I
    “Because if the baby has an accident with one of them and gets hurt, everybody sues us”

    Sickening, if you ask me. So now the portable cot is going to the dump. What a waste.

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  6. Well said Dan

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  7. MadJak – “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

    (Shakespeare – Henry VI., part 2 Act IV)

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  8. Except for those we need to prosecute the bankers.

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  9. And now the little kidies are being targeted at a young age also:

    This came out just before Christmas. The company involved is now on my boycot list as a result.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_vPZXbttdk

    Just tow the line kids, we’ll replace the fairy tales with our own sanctioned ones…

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  10. I freaked out when I saw that in the new game of monopoly that they sell now, there is no cash, it uses visa branded cards instead. What the heck is that going to teach young kids who play it! When monopoly resorts to using credit cards instead of cash, you know it’s a very bad sign of the times. The company that make monopoly said that they want to keep up with the times. Maybe next they can come out with a great depression version of monopoly, where people use barter instead of cash or credit cards

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  11. I suggest a book: “The Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion, A Pratkanis & E Aronson”. $7 used from Amazon + freight.

    I too regret spinning the Santa Claus lie. What a brilliant marketing ploy that was. Bought it hook line & sinker. But yesterday had the pleasure of throwing out 1/2 a wheelie bin full of crappy little toys, including some of those freakin Maccas happy meal mind-altering toys.

    Maybe the DR guys will bring out a gold-bullion monopoly? I’d like to see a Monopoly game that also has the opposite Monopsony thing going. I reckon you’d get a taste of owning a major Aussie supermarket chain or major shopping centre REIT!

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  12. I saw a customs officer at Melbourne Airport insisting a nudist put his clothes on while everyone else was undressing for the xray machine.

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  13. Oh yes. Christmas is repulsive. Welcome brother Grinches.

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  14. Nah, hearing “Happy Holidays” in a sickly American accent is repulsive.

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  15. Christina, i’ve played that version of Monopoly too. It is very clunky. I agree with you though – the numbers aren’t real in a card system. But cash notes you can count pretty easily – they ‘feel’ real.

    Reply

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