Thursday, November 26 , 2015, 10:56 pm | Mostly Cloudy 46º

Harris Sherline: Government Employees, TV Advertising and Other Pet Peeves

By Harris Sherline, Noozhawk Columnist |

Wikipedia defines a pet peeve (or pet hate) as “a minor annoyance that an individual identifies as particularly annoying to them, to a greater degree than others may find it. ... Its first usage was around 1919. The term is a back-formation from the 14th-century word peevish, meaning ‘ornery or ill-tempered.’

“Pet peeves often involve specific behaviors of someone close, such as a spouse or significant other. These behaviors may involve disrespect, manners, personal hygiene, relationships and family issues. ... A key aspect of a pet peeve is that it may well seem acceptable to others. For example, a supervisor may have a pet peeve about people leaving the lid on the copier up and react angrily, be annoyed when others interrupt when speaking, or by messy desks of their subordinates. That same supervisor may witness employees coming into work late, and not feel any annoyance whatsoever.”

Following is a partial list of the many annoyances that are some of my “pet peeves,” along with those of others:

» Government employees: Government employees who retire at an early age, often in their 50s, and receive pensions that are greater than the retirement income of most people who worked in private industry. It’s particularly offensive to me when they are interviewed and complain about how unfairly they are treated and how much they deserve. After years of being employed by the taxpayers, their retirement continues to be supported by taxpayer funds. Most of the retired people I know do not have a government pension and must live on the income from the savings they accumulated during their working years, along with whatever Social Security income they may receive.

» Government intrusion into our lives: The never-ending growth of government rules and regulations, which is exemplified by President Barack Obama’s health-care law, comprised of more than 900 pages of government mandates, which was concocted by a select committee in secret and approved by a complaint legislature, most of whom had not read it.

» Phony politicians: I don’t know anyone who is not fed up with the posturing of politicians and the promises they make, which everyone knows they have no intention of keeping. I’ve reached the point where I no longer watch them when they are interviewed on various TV news or talk shows.

» Telephone solicitors: Especially from Pakistan. They always seem to call at the most inconvenient time, in the middle of dinner or while you’re watching one of your favorite TV shows and, invariably, you can’t understand a word they are saying.

» TV advertising: Advertising of TV shows is often very offensive, stressing sex and outrageous behavior. I often wonder about the audience they are attempting to attract.

» The media: The slanted coverage and political bias that have become the hallmark of our news media, under the guise of being impartial but which, in fact, generally advocates the “liberal” point of view.

Following are some of the pet peeves of others, many of whom who are (or were) well-known:

» Anger: “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools” — Hebrew Bible, Ecclesiastes 7:9.

“Rage cannot be hidden, it can only be dissembled. This dissembling deludes the thoughtless, and strengthens rage and adds, to rage, contempt” — James Baldwin (1924-87), U.S. author; “Stranger in the Village,” in Harper’s (New York, October 1953), reprinted in Notes of a Native Son, 1955.

» Complaint: “What annoyances are more painful than those of which we cannot complain?” — Marquis de Custine (1790-1857), French traveler, author; Empire of the Czar: A Journey Through Eternal Russia, chapter 7 (1843; rev. 1989).

“What annoyances are more painful than those of which we cannot complain?” — Marquis de Custine (1790–1857), French traveler, author. Empire of the Czar: A Journey Through Eternal Russia, ch. 7 (1843; rev. 1989).

» Exasperation: “Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?” — James Thurber (1894-1961), U.S. humorist, illustrator; cartoon caption in The New Yorker (June 5, 1937).

“Your damned nonsense can I stand twice or once, but sometimes always, by God, never” — Hans Richter (1843-1916), German conductor; quoted in: Leon Harris, The Fine Art of Political Wit, chapter 12 (1964), to the second flute in the Covent Garden orchestra, quoted by British MP J.E.S. Simon in the House of Commons, Feb. 13, 1958.

» Self-control: “When angry, count four; when very angry, swear” — Mark Twain (1835-1910), U.S. author; Pudd’nhead Wilson, chapter 10, “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar” (1894).

» Temper: “Many people lose their tempers merely from seeing you keep yours” — Frank Moore Colby (1865-1925), U.S. editor, essayist; The Colby Essays, volume 1, “Trials of an Encyclopedist” (1926).

— Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who as lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his blog,

comments powered by Disqus

» on 12.09.12 @ 02:16 PM

Your rant against government employees and their pensions is an insult to every firefighter, police officer, school teacher, land-use planner, traffic engineer, etc. and shows you to be a shallow commentator.

» on 12.09.12 @ 10:55 PM

Carmelo, you could choose to view Harris’s remarks as an insult to public employees; however, most reasonable people know that California has a $500 billion unfunded pension liability time bomb, which will wreak havoc on everyone living in the state. We can do something about this now or wait until it is too late and suffer the consequences. Knowing how things work in California, I am sure we will choose the latter.

» on 12.10.12 @ 01:40 PM

Carmelo, there are many government employees who do not put their lives at risk (actually, very few policemen do so on a regular basis) and who are overcompensated by practically any measure, be it salary, working hours, vacation days, sick leave days, health care, or pension.  Your knee jerk reaction against any attempt to deal with this unaffordable mess is one reason the problem is not being solved.

And BTW, by your logic, shouldn’t members of our armed forces be compensated at least as well as police and fire?

» on 12.10.12 @ 07:09 PM

Always nice to get something positive and upbeat from Mr. Sherline. Just in time for the Holidays, too. A real treat.

He makes good points in his own way. About public employee retirement plans,
they are an anchor on the economy in shaking times, like those we’ve passed over the last five years, no doubt.

On the other hand, it was a traditional trade-off that public employees made for
far less take-home pay or bonuses that they would have access to better job
security and more secure retirements. It’s the latter that Sherline now begrudges
them. And that’s after they’ve kept their part of the bargain, with long, honest
careers in public service.

It’s interesting that he doesn’t seem to gripe about the systematic looting of
private sector pension and retirement plans by major corporate executives and
their supine boards.

As the current generation of Baby Boomers move toward retiring fr the private
sector, won’t it be interesting when they find out that their “secure” plans are
not, and that a generation of not-regulating feds let their bosses “borrow” their
retirement pay-ins for other purposes, some good, many nefarious?

George Orwell blew the trumpet about “government intrusion in our lives” when
he wrote “1984. What a prophetic novel that was!

Sherline had very little to say when some of the worst “intrusion” took place after
9/11 under the aegis of a “limited government” White House and Congress. The
wiretaps, the eavesdropping, the scanning emails, the X-rays of every American
moving through airports, is immense.

But Sherline’s concern? The Health Care Reform Act.

No wonder Sherline fervently supported the candidate with Swiss bank accounts
and exotic tax shelters in the Caymans.

That’s the kind of private sector “reward based” leadership he really relates to.

» on 12.10.12 @ 07:43 PM

Publius, this so-called tradeoff of furnishing public employees retirement plans far better than comparable employees in the private sector for less wages and bonuses is a myth perpetrated by the public employee unions to justify this boondoggle. If it was true in the past, it is certainly no longer accurate. Public employees have a very sweet deal at taxpayer expense, and they will fight to the death before relinquishing it. If it bankrupts the state and decimates all other govt services, it’s not their problem; they’re taken care of.

“George Orwell blew the trumpet about “government intrusion in our lives” when he wrote “1984. What a prophetic novel that was!”

I don’t see how George Orwell supports your position regarding this issue. I think you would be better off quoting Marx (not Groucho).

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