So far, the Republican and Democratic conventions have dealt with every problem the nation faces except one, and K. J. H. of Hagerstown has the solution to that one.
He writes, "A news story about five local bank robberies in one day (with no arrests) reminded me of signs that banks in small Texas towns used to display in their windows in the early 1930s. The signs said: $10,000 Reward for DEAD BANK ROBBERS East Texas Bankers Assn.
K. J. H. says small print at the bottom of the signs explained that the robber had to be killed "within 200 miles and 24 hours of the crime." He adds:
"It was said to be a powerful incentive toward honesty. The bandits tended to restrict their activities to less enlightened states.
"It also provided senior citizens with real free enterprise opportunity. When a man got too old to ride the range or roughneck in the oil fields, he'd get a house across the street from a bank.
"Then he'd rock on the front porch all day with carbine at hand, hoping to get rich if some stupid slob tried to rob the bank. I wonder how this would work out today?"
Not too well, old timer. First off, it has become illegal to kill people except in a declared war, an undeclared war or pursuant to a court order.
Killing people in traffic is technically illegal but the fine is usually within the means of the average driver.
The modern bounty hunter would therefore be well advised to lay his carbine aside and just park outside a bank with his motor running.
It's true that with gasoline selling for about $1.30 a gallon and income taxes as high as they are, the take-home pay wouldn't amount to much unless a bounty hunter could run down five or six bank robbers a year. However, with five banks being robbed in a single day, the odds on waiting at the right bank become quite attractive.
The biggest drawback to your idea, old timer, is that modern bankers' associations not only wouldn't offer a reward for dead bank robbers, they might not even want to encourage anybody to capture a bank robber alive. Not inside the bank, at any rate.
The prevailing view today is that it's bad for business to have a ruckus in the bank. it upsets both customers and employees. So when a little old lady in tennis shoes hands a bank teller a note that says, "Give me everything in the vault or I'll set off the atomic bomb in my purse," the teller hands over a package of money and says, "Smile. You're on Candid Camera."
If the pictures come out well and the police happen to catch a bank robber, the consequences can be quite serious. The punishment for bank robbery is even more severe than for homicide by motor vehicle, and the stolen dollars may depreciate so rapidly that there won't even be enough left to pay for a good lawyer.
So it appears to me that the East Texas Bankers Association plan has little to recommend it. The shooter faces big trouble, the shootee faces death, and the only good thing that can be said for the procedure is that few bank robbers would make the same mistake twice. COMPLAINT DEPT.
A few days ago I declined to inquire about an abandoned auto because the reader who complained about it refused to identify himself. Leon Weinraub of Leon Office Machines Co. immediately sent me this note:
"I will be glad to give you my name, address, age, telephone number and blood type if you will have two abandoned wrecks removed from the rear of our building at 623 H. St. NW. This is a very busy alley because of the large number of deliveries to the Chinese restaurants on the block as well as to our business. These two junk cars have been abandoned without tags and nobody knows to whom they belong. They are just sitting there rotting and taking up precious public space."
All right, Leon. Please forward the blood sample, a major credit card, your driver's license and a letter from your pastor attesting to your good character. I'll see what I can do about getting the junkers moved. REBUTTAL
A man phoned to protest against Bob Orben's wisecrack about Billy Carter -- the one that suggested that the president should put his family, not his money, into a blind trust.
"I know that's supposed to be funny," the caller said, "and maybe it is if you think only about Billy. But Rosalynn is also a member of Jimmy's family, and she may be the most valuable asset he has. She has won him more votes than Billy has lost for him. Shame on you."
I agree. Shame on me. I apologize for any unintended slight to the first lady. She's a winner.