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Incivility rising - Tom Purcell

"Those dirty lousy jerks at my company can put a sock in it!";

";Ah, yes, you illustrate the findings of a new study by Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion: that incivility is growing in the workplace.";

";My co-workers are almost as bad as the jerk politicians who are running our country into the ground!";

";You illustrate another recent survey's findings, by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate and KRC Research: that political discourse is also becoming less civil.";

";The country's going down the toilet. Nobody's in the mood to be civil!";

";The first study makes some obvious findings. Companies have laid off workers and are running lean. People lucky to have jobs must pick up the slack. They are working long hours.";

";Yeah, every Friday, my co-workers and I say the same thing: only two more working days until Monday.";

";As for incivility in political discourse, the cause is also obvious. After years of borrowing our way to prosperity -- remember how people took out home-equity loans to buy nice stuff? -- the bills have come due.";

";But the wife and I couldn't pass up that home-equity dough or the big-screen TVs, vacations and gas-guzzling SUV it bought us!";

";Government entitlements have grown so big, they must be overhauled. Excessive government spending must end. Some want to address these challenges now, whereas others are in denial.";

"Who doesn't want to cut wasteful government spending? We all agree on that!";

";Really? How about cutting Social Security? Reason magazine says it will grow from nearly $600 billion to nearly $1 trillion in only eight years as baby boomers retire.";

";I'll hand over my Social Security check when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.";

";How about Medicare then? It was projected to nearly double to $932 billion in 2018 -- until Democrats created an independent panel to cut Medicare spending as part of their health-care reform bill.";

";But my elderly mother just had her hip replaced. If Medicare doesn't cover the cost, she'll have to tap my inheritance!";

";No doubt we are in difficult times that call for drastic actions. No wonder incivility is on the rise. But civility is essential to solving our problems.";

";You're going to have to explain that one.";

";Surely you've heard of Judith Martin, better known as Miss Manners. She argues that civility is the heart of a well-functioning society.";

";Sounds like something that old bird would say.";

";She says manners and etiquette are the philosophical basis of civilization -- that people must have a common language of behavior that restrains their impulses. She says this is how we prevent our communal lives from being abrasive, unpleasant, even explosive.";

";I ain't following.";

";Look, America has some serious problems. Rudeness and name-calling will only stand in the way of solving these problems. We need to get hold of ourselves and, in a civil, orderly manner, do what Americans have always done.";

";Pour Worcestershire sauce in our co-workers' coffee when they aren't looking?";

";We need to look squarely at our problems, identify a mix of solutions from every political point of view, then come together to work out the solutions -- just as we've solved many daunting problems in our nation's history.";

";If you say so -- you jerk!";

Tom Purcell, a freelance writer, is also a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. E-mail Tom at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.