DOES OUR collective IQ decline in inverse proportion to technology's advance?
That's a burning question for the century, of course. But it's also fitting for right now, since we're entering the last lap of a local campaign season. And that means we are most vulnerable to attacks by automated phone calls.
Yes, it's robocall time. Many Pennsylvanians can recall the sour taste they got from these relentless phone calls during the November election.
That's why we're happy to see many states have begun the process of legislating and regulating these stupid annoyances of modern life. At least a dozen states have bills in progress that would restrict or regulate robocalls. Nebraska became the latest, after reports of the abuse of these calls in nasty campaigns where opponents would make calls at all hours in the name of their opponents.
Pennsylvania got into the act after similar viscious or misleading robocalls were made by the opponents of Allyson Schwartz and Lois Murphy. Rep. Michael McGeehan introduced a bill that would allow us to add political calls to their "do not call" list. The original "do not call" registry exempts political messages on First Amendment grounds. The bill is going nowhere fast; it sits in the state government committee, chaired by Philadelphia Rep. Babette Josephs. We urge voters to contact her or your local legislator and let them know you want action on this.
* And while you're at it, please make some noise begging for the cobwebs to be shaken out of the pending legislation that would ban use of cell phones while driving. Some local municipalities have enacted laws, but there needs to be a single law covering the state. That should include BlackBerrying while driving, which is a far bigger menace than a cell phone.
After the car accident of New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, questions were raised about whether his driver was sending or receiving messages on his handheld device before the accident.
Anyone who's tried this knows how impossible - and crazy - it is. That's why we need laws: to protect our more stupid selves from others. *