During Ireland's recent cold-spell the Irish government was regularly criticized for doing nothing. So now they want to do something - make a law to force people to shovel in front of their homes or businesses.

I'm all in favor of people shoveling - I practically begged people to shovel their sidewalks earlier this month - but I think this new law is a bad idea. Far better for the government to simply ask people to shovel, to be good citizens, to help their elderly neighbors.

I don't know. Maybe people won't respond. Maybe only the threat of a fine will convince people to get out and clear the sidewalk out in front of their homes.

Before we give up on the civic duty ideal and send in the snow police can't we just try it? Try a PR campaign that emphasizes what's to be done in snow? Maybe the media could promote good snow etiquette? They could even mention it's good exercise. It might work.

One thing I realized this month is that most people around where I live simply had no idea what to do. I saw some people throwing table salt on 2+ inches of snow, but it didn't seem to occur to them to shovel the snow away instead.

When people saw me shoveling they thought I was just a crazy Yank, compelled through some instinct to perform these winter rituals. Honestly, I felt like I was a feature on 'Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom' such were the looks I was getting as I shoveled. "Notice how the American grabs his shovel to attack the fluffy white invader ..."

I'm probably naive, but I'd like to believe that if people were asked to spend 10 minutes shoveling the inch or two of snow we get that they just might. The people might just respond without having to be brow-beaten into it.