David Bouchier: A Few Well Chosen Words

David Bouchier’s weekly essays are full of unexpected observations and whimsical opinions. Listeners will relish his entertaining, enlightening, and sometimes exasperated commentaries on the routines that carry us through the year, the surreal rituals of politics, the unsettling experience of foreign travel, and the confusions and comedies of everyday suburban life.

You can hear David Bouchier on-air Monday mornings or by subscribing to his podcast, A Few Well Chosen Words.

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This happens every spring. Our quiet life in the suburbs becomes a total audio-visual experience. From my window I can see the signals that nature thoughtfully provides for anyone without a calendar. The daffodils are almost done, the trees are leafing out nicely, and the bird feeders are busy. But the background music is not bird song but the roar of machinery.

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How could we live without our pharmacies? At any given moment of the year they tell us what we should be suffering from now, and what we should be worrying about next. So the modern pharmacy is quite a poignant metaphor of the human condition, surrounded as we are by invisible threats. Here, in a single boxlike structure, we find everything we want and everything we fear: good health and bad habits, religion and paganism; the promise of youth and beauty and the certainty of old age. As the cliché has it, all human life is there, and all human weaknesses too.

The Chinese leaders have been studying George Orwell again. They have devised a new plan for what they call “social credit,” which will be a kind of ranking by good or bad behavior. Citizens with good social credit will receive privileges like better jobs, access to travel visas, and cheaper insurance. Those with bad social credit will get a much less agreeable experience. How will the Chinese government know who’s naughty and who’s nice? By monitoring their internet use.

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Not everybody enjoys paying taxes. Some citizens regard them as a kind of legalized robbery. They agree with Tom Paine who said, when income tax was introduced in 1792, “What at first was plunder has assumed the softer name of revenue.” Just as medieval kings brutally robbed their citizens to finance their wars and comfortable lifestyles, so the democratic monarchs of the present age have found less violent means to the same ends. The extreme anti-tax position embraces a kind of anarchy in which central government ceases to exist, and only the fittest survive.

When I was a very junior journalist the news cycle was literally a cycle – my form of transportation from one local story to another. The news was delivered as fast as it took me to finish my reporting rounds, pedal back to the office, and type it. This took time, but we had the time, and there never was much news anyway.