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Hey, Matt:

I have always wanted to know...why do people leave already chewed gum in public places. It is everywhere! It is disgusting! Could they be fined for littering?

-- S.P., Spring Valley

Was planning to pass on this question. Didn't think I had much to offer-- Yes, it is everywhere and disgusting. Yes, they can be fined. Yes, people do it because we are only two or three DNA bits away from pigdom-- complete slobiosity. It's a fact. But ho-hum. Who cares. Finally, though, I had to send the elves out to root through the Dumpster to retrieve the question when I encountered this fascinating gum fact. It might have S.P. packing up and heading west.

If ABC gum is the final straw, and our freedoms no longer make up for the filth, might we suggest a move to Singapore? This hard-nosed city long ago recognized the people-pigs equation and did something about it. For more than a decade, gum has been illegal for locals to sell, possess, or chew. (Visitors were permitted to bring in a pack or two for "personal use.") It cost too much to clean up, sez the government.

All this came to the attention of the Team Matthew Alice Bored[CQ] of Executives when, after years of arm-twisting by the U.S. Trade Commission, the city recently relented. Singaporeans now can buy gum! We, the mightiest nation in the world, have finally liberated oppressed, gum-starved Singaporeans from their shackles. Actually, the U.S. chicle cartels claim to have lost tens of millions in revenue because of the ban. So the commission stepped in, wrenched an elbow or two, and struck a resounding blow for freedom and litter. In the end, though, wily old Singapore seems to have fired the last shot. Chewing gum is available there only with a doctor's or dentist's prescription. Therapeutic bubble gum...

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