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Voice of the Voter - This Week's Articles

Tell us what's important to you. Submit your article to Voice of the Voter today.

Paying It Forward

Several years ago Catherine Ryan Hyde wrote a book that presented the idea of "pay it forward". In short, the idea is to do something nice for three people and when they ask how they can repay you, you tell them to do something nice for three other people. The theory was that if you kept the chain going, you could change the world eventually. The book became a movie and a foundation was even born out of the idea.

Today, as I sat in traffic trying to get into the FasTrak lane on the Bay Bridge, someone was kind enough to let me in and I waved to them in gratitude. A little further up the line someone sat with their blinker on obviously trying to get over into my lane and nobody ahead of me would let them in. As I approached, I thought about not letting them in because I was in a hurry but then thought to myself that the person behind me was probably in a hurry too but she let me in. I let the driver in and a little further up the road, they let another stranded lane changer in. The theory of paying it forward worked. It was a small thing but it got me to thinking about how much better a world we would live in if we all made sure to pay forward the nice things people do for us every day. People hold doors for us and we say thank you but then let the door hit someone else behind us because we don't hold it that extra second so they can get through. People help us pick up heavy things and we say thank you but then often turn around and walk by someone else that is struggling with a heavy object because we're in a hurry or have "done our good deed for the day" somewhere else. How can we break out of the habit of taking and not giving? How can we be as kind to others as we would like them to be to us?

I have an idea. In this world of wearing ribbons and wristbands to support every cause known to man, why not find a way to remind ourselves to be more civil to one another? We wear these bands and ribbons to support people we often don't even know, which is a good thing. Why not wear one to support the people we see every day as well? I propose that we all start wearing olive green ribbons and wristbands as a reminder to "pay it forward" in our daily lives. It is a silly little reminder but it can send a powerful message and possibly even make a difference in the world around us.

You're probably wondering why I chose olive green as the color for my idea. Olive green is the color of many non-dress military uniforms. It's the color they sweat in a lot of the time. The men and women of the armed services "pay it forward" every day for the American people as they defend and protect people that they have never met because they believe that it is the right thing to do. Whether for or against the war or the current administration, most Americans agree that the troops are doing a service for the American people and deserve our respect. These ribbons and wristbands would serve as our way of reminding us to serve our fellow man here at home in a smaller but no less important way.

We can make a big difference if we all do a little.
Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this article.

Convenience At What Cost?

John was talking a mid-day walk through the neighborhood he had called home for the past twenty years when his life ended. The young woman driving the SUV that had crushed him hadn't seen the crosswalk, let alone the man using it. She hadn't seen him because her attention had been focused on her cell phone, and the conversations she had been having on it. She was so busy texting a message to one friend while talking to another that she never had a chance to see John while he was still alive. Luckily, for her, not John or his survivors, there were no drugs or alcohol involved and the police were "to busy" to file a report as technically no crime had been committed. That's just wrong.

If itís illegal to drive while intoxicated, the same should be true of all negligent and dangerous driving. The law differentiates between responsible and irresponsible alcohol use, with severe consequences for those who endanger the public. Why then do we excuse irresponsible and negligent actions of the people who arenít impaired and should know better. Just as if you canít drive sober your are no longer allowed the privilege of operating a vehicle in public, if you can't be bothered to pay attention while driving you also should no longer be allowed to drive.

Cell phones and automobiles are huge global enterprises, so of course neither will ever be outlawed or severely restricted, and they shouldn't be. There is already a way to make this dangerous situation a lot safer, the hands free devices that allow you to talk on the phone while keeping both hands on the wheel. Paying attention is still up to the driver. There is a huge difference between talking on a hands free device while sitting in bumper-to-bumper freeway traffic and trying to read a two inch screen and typing on an even smaller keyboard while speeding through a school zone or equally congested area. The law should reflect that difference. Additionally, to encourage driver responsibility, just as with the California insurance and sobriety laws, if you are involved in an accident while your cell phone is engaged you should be deemed at fault and responsible for the damage you cause.

Everyone I've discussed this issue and incident with was at first shocked that the police didnít have time to write up a report. Fair enough, every time one person kills another there should be an official record of the incident, but that is fodder for another day. The scariest thing to me about these discussions, was that everyone immediately put himself or herself in the place of the SUV driver and argued vigorously against any restriction on cell phone use while driving? One girl even complained that she hated using the speaker function on her phone because she had to turn her radio down. Just for a second, put yourself in Johnís shoes, is having to turn your radio down so that you can keep both hands on the wheel really all that big a deal?
Kyle Pesonen - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this article.

The Unasked Question

When did asking questions become a foreign concept to America? When did we as a society decide that it was more important to not look stupid than to know what the hell is going on in the world around us?

As I sit in class trying to complete my college education that I set aside for a career so long ago, I see people petrified to ask a question for fear of people thinking that they are somehow lesser because they don't know the answer. They would rather muddle through and barely pass a class because they don't want to look stupid in front of their classmates by asking a question that they assume everyone else knows the answer to because they aren't asking the question either. What ever happened to the old saying that "The only stupid question is the one you didn't ask"? When did we become convinced that asking questions makes one seem stupid or less than others around them?

We can see a clear cut example of the dangers of unasked questions when we look at the war in Iraq. People didn't ask for more information regarding the intelligence information that the White House used to justify war when a fairly cursory examination would have shown that it was full of holes. They didn't ask for the source of the intelligence or to have the information corroborated by other intelligence agencies. They simply took the picture that was painted for them and ran with it. Of course now, people in hindsight talk about how wrong it all was but where were the tough questions in the beginning? How was it that out of 435 members of the House of Representatives, there was only one dissenting vote on giving unprecedented power to the president to make war? Why did only Representative Barbara Lee stand up and say that they should ask some tougher questions before abdicating their authority under the Constitution? Did all of the rest of the Representatives feel that they would be "un-American" if they refused to hand the keys to unfettered war-making to people that had years before ever taking office or being privy to classified intelligence reports on WMD's advocated a strategy of preemptive war against Iraq? Why was it only one who questioned and spoke against the failure of leadership in the House of Representatives? Why did none in the Senate force debate to stop the power transfer? Were they afraid of looking unpatriotic if they didn't give the President everything he asked for?

Now we have the lessons of post-9/11 actions to learn from. Will we continue to make the people asking questions out to be "radicals" or "disloyal" or will we learn from our mistakes and begin to ask the tough questions? The stakes are pretty high and if we get it wrong the whole world could lose. We have to start asking the questions and stop worrying about looking "stupid" or "unpatriotic". I would say that real patriots put their countrymen ahead of the politicians and that only idiots refuse to ask questions when they don't know something.
Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | E-mail your comments about this article.

Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to:

Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to


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