One of my favorite movies is “The Untouchables.” In it there is a great scene in which Sean Connery and Kevin Costner are trying to form their team of incorruptible cops, but they realize that virtually everyone on the police force is on Al Capone’s payroll. So what do they do?
In the words of Connery’s officer Jim Malone: “If you’re afraid of getting a rotten apple, don’t go to the barrel. Get it off the tree.” Malone and Costner’s Elliot Ness recruited their team – or at least one member of it – from the police academy, a place where even Capone’s corruption had yet to reach.
It’s good advice, not just for forming an untouchable police squad, but for a lot of things. It’s all about getting to the root of the problem and stopping it before it starts. Take the issue of driver training for example. For years, OOIDA has been saying that if there were better requirements for driver training in place, it would virtually eliminate a lot of the safety problems that agencies like the FMCSA are allegedly trying to solve.
Instead of having drivers who receive a couple of days of training in a parking lot, you’d have fleets of regulated, certified, qualified drivers behind the wheel already knowing what they need to know to operate safely on our highways. Don’t go to the barrel. Get it off the tree.
I brought up the example of driver training when I was talking with Laura O’Neill of OOIDA’s Washington, DC, office about a recent bout of sniping that had taken place between President Obama and a group of congressional Republicans. Each one was blaming the other one for not fixing the economy. Obama lashed out at the Republicans for not passing his jobs bill, while the Republicans blamed policies Obama had already pushed through – such as the health care bill – for weighing down the economy.
President Obama said in a recent speech that “the private sector is doing fine” and that more money needed to be spent on the public sector. The Republicans strongly disagreed and called for a moratorium on regulations in the private sector, as they always do.
The silly thing is, amid all of this fighting, there is a solution that is right there. One that goes back to the tree and gets to the root of so many of the problems facing the country today. I’m talking about the highway bill, which is currently stalled in a joint congressional committee.
After all, what is the highway bill if not a massive transportation funding package? In fact it is the transportation funding package, bar none. It will create jobs. It will put more money into the economy. It will go a long way toward alleviating a lot of the problems both sides are complaining about.
Instead of sniping at each other over these problems, why not go to something that will solve them at their roots? If you are afraid of rotten apples, don’t go to the barrel. Get it off the tree. As it is with safety and driver training, the solution is obvious. And it’s staring Washington right in the face. All they need to do is open their eyes.