Thursday, April 19 , 2018, 1:23 pm | A Few Clouds and Breezy 65º

 
 
 
 

Danny Tyree: Could You Pass a ‘Good Citizen’ Test? Really??

My son Gideon’s former elementary school awarded (and still awards) a weekly “good citizen” award to a student who does an outstanding job with teamwork, politeness, kindness, etc.

I think this is a commendable way of promoting certain behaviors and societal goals. But some ideas can be taken to a totalitarian extreme. According to USA TODAY, the Chinese government plans to make a Social Credit System mandatory for its 1.3 billion citizens by 2020. Citizens’ financial information, political leanings, purchase history, social interactions and more would be used to calculate their “trust score,” with appropriate rewards and punishments meted out by those control-freak communist government officials.

We Americans are more used to achieving social change through public service announcements (such as the old “There ain’t no lower class than Tennessee trash” anti-littering ads or “This is your brain on drugs”), contributing to telethons and voluntarily attending political rallies.

Apparently, we value our privacy and security a lot more than the Chinese do. Unless you count Facebook posts such as “Here is a live video feed of our vacation — 3,000 miles away from home. Hope you saw my recent tirade about what an incompetent job that jerk did of installing our home security system. Oh, and the viral video of how cheesecake knocks our guard dog out like a light.”

We Americans are rugged individualists. We don’t need to be manipulated into certain behaviors by bureaucrats we’ll never meet. That’s why we have CELEBRITIES whom we’ll never meet. (“Did you hear? Kylie’s personal shopper’s dentist just got her pancreas pierced. Ooooo ... where do I sign up?”)

Of course, the Chinese way can be tempting. As Mr. Spock said, “The good of the many outweighs the good of ... the guy who wants to expose his butt crack while putting a sixth junker car up on concrete blocks.”

Stress levels would skyrocket if Washington adopted a Social Credit System and we had to second-guess ourselves about what infractions would get us onto the Naughty List. If we run into a former co-worker and he concludes the chat with, “Keep ol’ Cletus and the gang straight,” what happens if we forget and DON’T keep ol’ Cletus and the gang straight???? Will we be sharing accommodations with ol’ Cletus and the gang in Siberia?

Shifting norms of political correctness will keep us on edge. If we answer in the affirmative when asked, “Do you always place Uncle Sam’s interests first?,” we might be berated with “That’s so patriarchal and misogynistic! Why do you assume there isn’t an AUNT Sam?”

Do we really want our future prospects of getting a job, obtaining a loan or getting into a good school put at risk by typographical errors? (“Pays his bills on time, votes predictably, works well with OTTERS ...”)

Hopefully, there would be enough lawyers to help us when our dossiers become confusing. (“Whoa whoa. You can’t penalize Mr. Smith for stepping on cracks and breaking his mother’s back. He already turned his mother in to the government for using lard instead of surplus olive oil in her cooking!”)

If we did adopt a Social Credit System here, some people would figure out how to game the system. (“I thanked a veteran, recycled my plastics, learned all the verses of the national anthem AND took advantage of the double coupons. They gave me the nuclear codes!”)

— Satirical columnist Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page Tyree’s Tyrades. He is syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >