Sometimes when I see a breaking news story on this website, I will form an opinion even though the story is preliminary and I know all the facts have not yet been revealed.
For instance, it was reported yesterday on Semissourian.com that one of the robotic garbage trucks used by the City of Cape Girardeau Public Works department "grabbed hold" of a citizen and "pushed him several feet."
My initial response was that the person was an idiot. You shouldn't even be close to one of these behemoths when it is being used. Surely, it has large warning labels all over the trash truck telling everyone to keep a safe distance away.
But apparently these warning labels weren't good enough for this fellow. Those warnings are meant for some OTHER guy.
So that was my first opinion, but then a second possible reason quickly came to mind. Considering our extremely litigious society, perhaps this "accident" was a calculated gamble to collect a big payday from the city. I wonder how many millions one could get if you sued the city and the trash truck manufacturer for what is obviously a faulty piece of equipment that is unquestionably a menace to society?
Finally, a third hypothesis entered my mind regarding this situation.
What if this Attack of the Trash Truck was actually part of a devious research experiment being conducted by the City?
It is a well-known fact that the citizens of Cape Girardeau are very good at taxing themselves. Need a water park? Bump up the sales tax. Need a football stadium for the high school? Extend the property tax levy ad infinitum. Need a mandated sewer treatment plant? Go ahead and quadruple our water rates, please.
But I bet the days of easy money from the citizenry of Cape to help finance "community needs" has reached the end. The sewer tax passed last week because it was the lesser of two evils. The city essentially told us we were going to get hit, but was nice enough to let us choose if -- figuratively speaking -- we wanted it in the face or in the gut. The majority of the voters chose the one that hurt a little less.
However, when the price of everything has gone up while everyone's wages have remained flat, people get very protective of what little disposable cash they have.
For instance, there has been a discussion about an official community college being started in Cape and to finance such an entity a taxing district would need to be formed. That would mean everyone's property taxes in a yet-to-be-determined multi-county area would increase to help foot the bill for this "community need."
Would the people of the City of Cape Girardeau really want to pay for an institution like that on top of their water park tax and their football stadium tax and the sewer tax and all the other taxes that we pay?
I don't think so and I think the city knows it too. That's why I believe this Trash Truck Incident is not so much an accident as preliminary research by the city for ways to collect funds from citizens no longer eager to part so nonchalantly with their hard-earned cash.
Here is yet one more way to stay a goodly distance from those robotic trash trucks.
Apologies to photographer Kit Doyle for monkeying with his original photo.
Also, some readers believe the man shown dangling from the trash truck is an employee of the city. That is not the case. The image used in this montage is of a man from England who was protesting government waste and featured in a news story from 2008.