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The Declaration of Independence states, quite clearly, that all Americans have an inalienable right to life, liberty and connectivity, previously known as the pursuit of happiness, which means the possession of an iPad and/or cellular phone, preferably with 4G power. (The Brits call this a mobile, a French-sounding word, though the Gallics call it “un portable”, which explains why Cameron and Sarkozy don’t get on.)

Now this fundamental right is under existential threat from, naturally, the gummint. Just last week the National Highway Transportation Board, that mysterious paragon of unelected officialdom, proposed that the use of cell phones while driving a car should be banned. More heinously, it highlighted the practice of texting while in motion as a particular hazard, now causing 3,000 deaths a year from what is euphemistically called distracted driving.

What the gummint totally fails to recognise is that we now live in a permanently connected world, foreshadowed by the Founding Fathers even though they, poor chaps, were forced to rely on quill pens. There can be no moment of any day, or in any activity, including sex, when connectivity is denied us.

If it were, chaos would result, which would be far worse than eight dead people a day on America’s roads. Indeed some of us believe that this is a cheap price to pay to preserve our inalienable rights, even though sympathy with the bereaved is permissible.

We are, after all, a multi-tasking generation, capable of tweeting, posting on Facebook, getting directions from our GPS machines, swigging grande latte macchiato and putting on our make-up all while driving our five ton SUVs. If we didn’t have these distractions, the carnage that would follow from us being allowed only to concentrate on driving would be far worse.

This might be hard for older people, some of whom still use AOL and have land lines and cars with manual transmissions, to understand. Some of them claim to be able to multi-task. One columnist, who uses AOL, a Japanese sumo moniker and shifts his own gears, says he multi-tasks every day because he can drink, smoke and write at the same time, but he lives in the dark ages. He is probably only a “lurker” on Facebook, with less than 40 friends.

And anyway, as Ayn Rand, Ron Paul and other great thinkers over the ages have said, the gummint has no place in the bedrooms or cars of the nation. Already it is forcing us to use fluorescent light bulbs instead of the old incandescent ones just to save energy when everyone knows we’ve got lots of it, even if it involves fracking and other assaults on the environment. The attack on our cell phone rights is just another step towards one world government, or the nanny state, whichever comes first, as it was when it became a crime not to buckle up seat belts.

Of course the simple answer to this is the fully automated and computerised car, which drives itself, has its own built-in macchiato milk frother and stops at every cell phone shop for us to upgrade to the latest version, which comes out every other day. This was envisaged in the Jetsons, the old TV cartoon series, but all the gummint does is pour money into solar panels and electric cars whose batteries catch fire unless regularly doused with Diet Coke.

And where is the mention of electric cars in the constitution? Thomas Jefferson was deeply into connectivity, even inventing a machine that allowed him to write more than three letters at the same time, without the use of carbon paper but still with a quill pen. He would have understood the importance of texting and tweeting, which is why YouTube, Wikipedia and the historian Newt Gingrich say they are in the founding documents and electric cars aren’t.

And if I don’t know where all my friends are and what they are doing every second of the day then life is not worth living. Just imagine the misery that would follow if we did not know, on the instant, that Kim Jong-il had died and could not broadcast our comment on it while running the next red light. I tweeted “he was Kim Jong-ill, now he’s Kim Jong-dead”. Pretty neat, eh? Leaves nothing more to be said really.

Speaking of red lights, the cops who enforce the rules of the road are forever texting, peering into their computers or fiddling with their GPSs, as we can all see when they scream through stop lights. If they can do it, why can’t the rest of us?

(Sounds of squealing brakes, loud crash, OMG, screams, silence)


Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

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