Dec. 22 2010 10:34 AM

Since when does a temper tantrum frame a debate?

I don't know when it happened, but San Diegans have become the biggest bunch of whining boobs since Ryan Leaf, his voice breaking, cried in the Chargers locker room like a Super Sweet 16 brat who gets a Beemer instead of a Mercedes on her birthday. Then again, given the national trend of widespread inanity, it isn't all that surprising.

Like Leaf and Phillip Rivers and any 5-year-old child who isn't allowed to watch back-to-back episodes of Dora or have ice cream every night after dinner, actual grown-ups in this city relied last week on the kid-tested argument, But it's not faiiiiiiir!

The venue for the pained outcry: KPBS's These Days morning radio program. The topic: Trash-collection fees in San Diego. Hand to heaven, someone please hold me back.

As reporter Tom Fudge framed it on the show—and on his blog, On-Ramp—homeowners in San Diego (including Fudge and yours truly) have been getting our “sweet deal” of “free” trash pickup for too many years. Meanwhile, condo and apartment dwellers and folks who reside on federal land, have been paying for the service. They're pissed at us home-owning city-dwellers who aren't paying our “fair share” and doggone it (kick a foot in the sand): That's. Not. Fair.

Fudge and the callers were practically heavy petting one another over the phone lines as they squawked of such injustice. One caller, Mark in La Jolla, spoke about the “salient” issue of fairness. Until recently, he'd been among those receiving “free” trash collection. Then the city notified him that it would be closing a loophole and that, given where he lives, he'd have to begin paying for trash collection come January.

“Now my tax dollars are paying to pick up the trash of people who live in million-dollar houses across the street from me and then I still have to pay through my HOA fees for trash pickup for my complex,” the aggrieved Mark in La Jolla sniveled. “So I'm paying double and my friends who live a couple blocks away are paying half. That's the real unfairness.”

Sniffle, whimper, sigh and boo-flippin'-hoo-ha to you, Mark in La Jolla.

You know, one of my parents was really awful. Like, thunderously, bloody awful with concrete blocks chained to its ankles and dumped into shark-infested waters. And yet, as horrendous as he was, he still managed to teach me the vital coping mechanism so many people have difficulty coming to terms with, and it is this: Life isn't fair.

Having a shit-heel for a father helped me gain a clear understanding of the concept early on, and it's probably why I find it almost hilarious, this wailing cry of unjustness over who gets “free” trash collection. I mean, get real, whiners. Or, take your toys and go home.

If life were fair, my next-door neighbor— who lives in the house his father purchased more than 50 years ago—would be paying property taxes at the same rate I am. After all, we drive down the same road every morning to go to the same sorry-ass schools and the same rarely open libraries. And I pay thousands more than he does every year.

If life were fair, Disneyland and other corporations wouldn't pay property taxes creatively calculated through Prop. 13 loopholes while our state disappears into a sinkhole of I-got-mine entitlement.

If life were fair, gays could get married, undocumented immigrants would have a pathway to citizenship and all schools would be well funded, properly staffed and adequately supplied.

If life were fair, black farmers would finally get their (measly) settlement from the Department of Agriculture for the loan discrimination they suffered in the 1980s and '90s, and Republicans would be smacked upside the head for their 11year obstruction of said payout. And don't even get me started on the 40 acres and a mule.

If life were fair, airlines wouldn't be allowed to see us naked, force us to take our shoes off and collect more than $2.6 billion in fees for getting our luggage to our destinations.

If life were fair, I would get free babysitting from my in-laws during their pending three-month visit (!) without all the accompanying obligation.

If life were fair, I could un-see the infamous pictures of Brett Favre's shriveled, gray penis.

Speaking of a shriveled, gray penis, Dick Cheney is skinny and upright and still giving speeches, thanks to incredible Cadillac healthcare, the likes of which most of us can only imagine and which he will enjoy until his death, if it ever comes, which it probably won't because that incredible Cadillac healthcare is extending his life far beyond that of almost any other person with his advanced disease. The man literally has no pulse. If he wasn't before, he's now officially the living dead. And while every planet needs its Scrooge, where, I ask, is the fairness in his continued breathing?

No, Mark in La Jolla, life isn't fair. You have to pay for your trash collection and I get mine for “free.” And your millionaire neighbors? They ride on our coattails, o'er the fields they go, laughing all the way to the bank. Ho! Ho! Ho! Yes, they're enjoying all that “free” garbage removal and—don't forget!—a windfall in tax breaks just gifted to them by Congress.

For the record, I would gladly pay an additional $20 each month for trash collection. (And I would have gladly paid $98 dollars a year in a parcel tax to improve our schools, and I would have gladly paid an extra halfcent in sales tax, too, so the services we all expect and need would continue to be available.) But I need to hear a reasonable and convincing argument, not one lifted from the playground at the local pre-school.

Stop acting like children, people. And don't argue with me.

Why? Because I'm the parent—and I said so.

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