# Taking A Second Look

## Urgent Letter To The President With CC's To The World's Plastic Makers

Dear Mr. President:

You've noticed it too, how lately we're inundated with numbers. At one time numbers mostly meant math tests; but now numbers have been elevated into statistics. And we all know what statistics mean. They've become the essence to our national existence, DNA to our public policies, basis on which we decide everything from teacher evaluation to making movies to passing budgets to going to war.

If I sound a little frustrated, it's because I am. Sir, I still believe you and I are more than numbers in someone's algorithm. However, if numbers are to be the name-of-the-game, may I submit the number 630 billion. By my unauthorized guesstimate of everyday America, this is approximately the number of minutes being wasted every fiscal year all because of three taken-for-granted bad habits:

(1) Plastic ~ Using a base number the 45 frustrating seconds it takes the average consumer to unwrap the average sealed plastic on postal packages, food products, medicine bottles, chewing-gum three-packs, and Christmas toys...multiplying this by the average number of items per day per person per year.... I calculate with a margin of error of 5 % that 330 million Americans waste in the vicinity of 30 billion plastic minutes annually. Quite a vicinity!

(2) Commercials ~ Using as a base number the 13 minutes of commercials in the average hour-long television program, I calculate the average viewer wastes most of these minutes uselessly trying to find another channel without a commercial....multiplying this by the average number of programs per night per person per year, I calculate with the same margin of error that we 330 million waste in the vicinity of 300 billion commercial minutes annually. The vicinity grows still worse!

(3) Computers ~ Using some of these same sets of numbers for the number of times that little man inside our computer abruptly decides either to "shut down" or "crash," I calculate another 300 billioncomputer minutes wasted annually

Mr. President, do you see where I'm going with this? It's a cool bright day across our country from the shores of Martha's Vineyard to the hills of Santa Barbara. But something has to be done about these statistics, sir. Soon. Either for the stability of your country or at least the sanity of your letter-writer......

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• ### Meet The Blogger

#### Jack Spatafora

40 years educator/writer/intellectual vagabond...speech writer for the White House and Fortune 500 CEOs...regular contributor to the op-ed pages of the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Pioneer Press, New World...teleplays and documentaries on PBS, ABC and NBC... 50-year colleague of Bob Newhart and 60 year spouse of Chicago actress Joan Spatafora...who is by far prettier than Bob!

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