No. 823



There is an interesting concept that, if employed on a much larger scale, could make a tremendous difference in the quality of life we have here in America. This concept is called “Zero-Tolerance.” If you drive an automobile, I am sure you have seen speed limit signs that give the posted speed limit, and then a little sign below with the words, “Zero-Tolerance.” This simply means that you have been warned and if the posted speed limit is 30 miles per hour, if you are caught going even 31 mph you are going to get a speeding ticket. With automobile insurance rates going up in our country each year, and one or more speeding tickets increasing them even more, it does not take long to get the message. The vast majority of drivers will obey the law.
Now, take that same concept and apply it to other areas of our society. We will begin to see more self-discipline, more respect for the law and a much larger percentage of our citizens who understand that their actions do have consequences. Here is a good example of what I am saying. Several years ago, prior to graduation of a large private school, a young lady was kicked out of school for drug use, three months before she was to graduate. The reason was because this school has a “Zero-Tolerance” drug policy and this student violated it. You may say that this was cruel. Well, it was, especially for the student who got kicked out of school. However, she knew the policy, as did all the rest of the students. As we all know, word has a way of getting around very quickly and the remaining members of the graduating class, as well as all future students, understand that their actions and behavior do have consequences.
When it comes to implementing “Zero-Tolerance” policies, there are a number of things that should be understood up front. This is not a partisan or religious issue. Nor is it based on race, gender or national origin. It is simply a concept that, when applied even handedly and consistently to those who violate the policy, conditions will improve dramatically. Of course, everyone should know what the policy is, and this is the responsibility of those who make the rules or set the policy. Wouldn’t it be great to have a “Zero-Tolerance” policy for members of Congress who are involved in a sex scandal? Would we ever have anyone unfit to hold office, be voted out by their peers, instead of having the media force them out of office?
While I am not sure how many people in our nation share my views, I believe we need to raise our standards in every area of society. As most of us know, we usually get what we expect and, as Americans, we need to expect more and demand more from our leaders. This includes not just members of Congress but leaders in education, business and industry, state and local governments, and anywhere public or tax money is used. One way to do this is to adopt “Zero-Tolerance” policies … let everyone know upfront what the rules are and then hold them to a higher standard.
You really want to know what gets to me? It’s when the Tiger Woods’ and Mark Sanford’s of this world are poor role models for our young people. I believe a person can have more money, win more titles and races than anyone else in the world, but still fail if they are poor role models. Yes, there are consequences, and our kids deserve better.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)