July 3, 2008 · Updated 12:49 PM
"The entire country is in a frenzy over the CBS show Survivor.In case you've managed to avoid the addiction, the concept is this: Sixteen Americans of varied personalities and professions are put on a tropical island off the coast of Borneo and placed under the watchful camera eye. They're given limited food, skimpy clothes and an opportunity to win a million bucks. To get the cash, all they have to do is survive a vote by their fellow islanders that kicks off one participant at the end of each show. The last one remaining wins.Survivor has been on the air since May 31, and the 16 original islanders have been whittled down to five: Rudy, 72, an ornery former Navy SEAL from Virginia; Richard, 38, an overly cocky corporate trainer and one-time West Point Cadet from Rhode Island; Susan, 38, a blunt-speaking truck driver from Wisconsin; Sean, 30, a not-too-bright neurologist from Long Island; and Kelly, 23, a river guide from Las Vegas.I tuned in about five weeks ago. While my wife and I were once sanctimonious about television (Waste my life in front of the boob tube!? Heck no! Not me!), don't even think about calling us tonight at 8 p.m. We're watching Survivor, baby.I'm not sure why the show sucks in viewers. Some argue that Survivor just sucks. Voyeuristic, reality TV is another sign of society's decline, they say. I say phooey. I think the show's creators are on to something useful, something we can put to use around here. News-Times reporter Chris Douthitt first brought up the idea in our newsroom: The participants of Survivor vote each other off a tiny island in the South Pacific. So how about if the residents of Whidbey Island hold a similar vote?Sure, there are 50,000 residents on our island, which makes the voting more complicated to start. But if we set up a Department of Survival in the county building in Coupeville, put Auditor Suzanne Sinclair in charge and hold a daily vote that kicks off, say, 100 people a day, we can whittle that number down in a hurry. That's 36,500 people gone in a year. We could assess how it's going at that point.Tourists need to go first. I know this will create a business hardship for those who rely on the local tourist economy to make a living. Sorry. Get over it.Once we've rid ourselves of tourists, the highway will be more enjoyable and the ferries will be less crowded. That gets us down to the main participants, we island residents. It goes without saying that anyone who has held public office gets voted off. Some of these folks might hang on like barnacles on a ship's hull, but the tribe has spoken, as they say on Survivor.Real estate agents go next. I like you guys, I really do, but since we're downsizing our population and keeping out tourists, there just won't be much employment for you.The South Whidbey Tribe has already been known to vote out developers (McDonald's, South Whidbey resort ... Exxon?), and I'll tell you right now they're going to form an alliance and start picking off Navy folks and other north enders. Of course, the North Whidbey Tribe will form its own alliance. See ya, Langley. I'll miss the bakery.And so it goes. ... (The editor, fearing he has gone too far, stops typing.)Some of you might put the media at this top of the Whidbey Survivor list. All I want to point out is that on the real Survivor, Richard catches fish, then feeds his fellow contestants, who see the value of keeping Richard around.Sure, there are plenty of people on Whidbey Island who can catch fish. But how many of you out there can produce a fish wrapper?Think about that when it's time to vote.---------------You can reach Mike Page-English at firstname.lastname@example.org. "