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I HAVE A FRIEND who hates TV sitcoms. He says that most of the predicaments on them could be settled in two minutes if just one of the characters would show a little common sense.

He's right about sitcoms. But more than that, he's right about most problems in society. Two minutes of common sense and a lot of wrinkles could be ironed out.For instance:

- THE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STRIKE: The problem here is easy to spot. The ballplayers really want to be owners and the owners, down deep inside, really want to be ballplayers.

So we just flop the roles.

Could Barry Bonds do any worse as owner of the San Diego Padres than the clowns who've run the franchise into the ground?

And what fan in America would regret laying out $20 for a ticket to watch Ted Turner knock down George Steinbrenner with a fastball?

- NEW YORK CRIME: According to the New Yorker magazine, 78,000 people in New York City called 911 in 1992 to report gunshots.

That's an unbearable situation.

New York should start distributing ear plugs with each telephone book.

- THE WINTER OLYMPICS: Support for the Winter Games is a little more shaky now because people are afraid it will cost the taxpayers much more than they've been led to believe. Boosters say fail-safe measures are in place and the risk to the taxpayer is very slight. In fact, it's unlikely taxpayers will feel a bite at all.

It's the "unlikely" part that throws people.

Here's how to stop the "five-ring circus."

If the prospects are so sunny, let backers and organizers simply sign a paper that "guarantees" no tax money will ever be lost in funding the Olympics. If more money is needed, the boosters - not Utah - have to come up with it.

Presto! Instant support.

- NATIONAL UNITY: The world is reverting to clans - just like the grand old days of Scotland. Just like the days of Genghis Khan. Look at Bosnia today. Look at Russia. Even the United States - once seen as a seamless blend of common interests - has splintered. Every ethnic group, political issue and region now make up separate little blocks - each one unique and unattached.

What to do?

Well, what we do is go to Mormon Handicrafts, get the names of 200 Mormon seamstresses and hire them to stitch those blocks together in a crazy quilt of American culture.

I've seen those women work. Once they sew something, it stays sewn.

Then we all hang that crazy quilt on a wall, stand back and see the true pattern and shape of things today. We see that each block has a place and is bound to the other blocks.

We see that strength comes from being a quilt, not a block.

We think about things like warmth and utility and beauty.

Then we go back to our homes and tell all that to our kids.