By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Sep 25, 2014 at 5:29 AM

It seems like I’ve been alive a long time, and although I don’t think I can see my demise on the horizon, I am starting to do a bit of reflecting.

And one of the results of my reflection is this latest version of a list I have been keeping for decades of things that I think would make our country and city a better place. Some of them are big deals and some of them aren’t, but I think that all of them would make it better for all of us.


  1. GO THERE AND THEN COME BACK HOME! We’ve all heard the David Gruber ad, "One Call, That’s All." Well this one is "One Term, That’s All." Make it six years, or four years or two years, I don’t care. But for every elected politician at the federal, state and local level, you get one term and then you have to go back to the real world. I’m totally convinced that the No. 1 thing on the mind of anyone who gets elected is getting elected again. And I think that’s a terrible way to run a government. It gets in the way of actually trying to do something good. Everything you want to do is seen through the prism of getting elected again.
  2. TRADE VOTER ID CARDS FOR ANOTHER CARD. I know those voter ID cards are real controversial and they are a Republican scheme to depress the vote among black people and Latinos. It’s obvious, however, that they are legal and we are stuck with them. I think it’s time to negotiate a compromise. We should trade voter ID cards for fast food ID ration cards. You’d need to show it every time you visit a fast food restaurant, either drive-through or inside. And you would be restricted to four meals a month. Probably nothing would do more for public health than something like this. I like a Big Mac as much as anyone, but realize that too much of this stuff doesn’t do anybody any favors.
  3. FROM PARKING TO POOP. I am so sick of parking tickets that I could puke. But we seem to be stuck with it. They raise millions of dollars for the city, so it’s going to be hard to get rid of them. Again, let’s find a compromise. Let’s stop parking tickets and start giving dog poop tickets to anyone who doesn’t bother to pick up their pooch’s poops in a plastic bag. It would give all those parking checkers something to do and I bet we’d raise almost as much money.
  4. THE PIPES, THE PIPES ARE CALLING. I have had my fill of bagpipes playing "Amazing Grace" at funerals far and wide. When I heard it at the funeral for Joan Rivers I couldn’t help but think that this wonderful Jewish funny lady was about as far from a Scot as could be. First of all, bagpipes sound awful. Secondly, it has become violently trite. And thirdly, if you want some mournful song at a funeral, how about a saxophone playing "Hurt" by Johnny Cash or "In My Life" by the Beatles.
  5. THE GATHERING OF DUNCES. If I had a dime for every partisan idiot I’ve seen on cable television news I would be living on a beach somewhere with an endless supply of Kindle books and Wild Turkey. I don’t suppose there is really any legal way to get rid of all the cable news channels, but the world would be much better off. There is almost nothing good that they contribute to our lives. I can remember three channels, NBC, CBS and ABC. They did just fine bringing us the news and were great when there was a huge tragedy, like the assassination of a president. I long for the days when you had to be smart to be on television news.
  6. AND THEN THERE WERE TWO. I have been part of and have watched efforts to improve urban education for decades. Nothing that’s been tried has seemed to make a significant difference in outcomes. I have an idea that has been tried on a small scale in some places. Let’s cough up the money to put two teachers in every classroom in the Milwaukee Public Schools. It’s been proven that the addition of another adult can have an immense impact on children. Let’s cut out the waste and pay for people.
  7. GET THE GAGS READY. There are a whole bunch of people who I think we would be better off with by putting a gag order on them. Generally these people never say anything important and sometimes they seem downright crazy. The list, not nearly complete, includes, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Sheriff David Clarke, Sen. Rand Paul, Ald. Bob Donovan, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, J. B. Van Hollen, any one of the Kardashians, Jeff Wagner, Kathleen Dunn, the damn ice cream truck song on the ice cream truck, all local television sports reporters, Perez Hilton, Paris Hilton, Congressmen Peter King and Gwen Moore, Senators Ron Johnson and Harry Reid.
  8. THE HOOSGOW FOR SURE. I think if you get caught texting and driving at the same time we should have mandatory jail time. No paroles. No plea bargains. No diversion programs. Jail! I can’t begin to count the times I’ve either passed or been passed by somebody who is texting while driving. I also can’t imagine anything much more dangerous.
  9. LOOSEN UP A LITTLE BIT. This has more to do with a collective attitude than it does with a specific act. But I think we’d all be better off if we loosened up a little bit. Let’s get ease up on censorship of television programs. Let’s make it easier for people to get a driver’s license. Let’s find a way to laugh a little more. We tend to treat everything as a crucially serious event in our lives. Not everything is that serious. As my daughters might say, "Chill."
  10. USE THOSE TROWELS. I’m hard pressed to think of anything that can put a smile on my face and lower my blood pressure than seeing a field of flowers. I’d like to see free flower seeds given out by the government. I’d like to see kids help old people dig flower beds at their homes. I’d like to see every single public space burst with flowers during the spring and summer. Power to the flower.
  11. AND FINALLY, MEANIES GO HOME. I’d like to see people be nicer. And I mean everybody. It just seems to me that there are too many people who think it’s either okay or funny to be mean. I use as an example some of the people who comment on what I write. I’m a big boy and I can take it, but some of them are downright mean and it doesn’t do anything to further the public debate and it just serves to put them on edge.
Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.