Actually, no, a pedestrian doesn't ALWAYS have the right of way. Only on marked crossings and only when traffic flow allows that yield safely. Someone who runs out on a crosswalk without making sure that drivers see them and can stop safely is a dumb idiot. (And I"m not talking about children, only adults).
I like what I'd see in Europe and maybe some cities in US have adopted. The entire intersection turns red to traffic and allows pedestrians to cross diagnially (sp?) or across as they please following all sorts of lines. Then it is the turn for the vehicles to cycle through each direction without worrying about pedestrians. It would allow drivers to focus on where they were headed and other drivers. I prefered those intersections as a pedestrian AND as a driver.
One of my pet peeves is when people cross streets in the middle of the block, talking on their cell phones and not paying attention to traffic. Apart from being dangerous, it's also just plain rude.
Those all-way pedestrian intersections are awesome! So much easier for all involved.