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The Voting Snafu

I just went to vote. The machine wouldn’t take my paper ballot, so the poll worker grabbed it out of the so-called privacy shield and inspected it himself. I’m sure he saw what I marked.

It’s enough to make me long for the old days of mechanical voting machines.

Tribalism in Sports

I’ll grant that it can be healthy to identify with a group of people outside oneself. Still, I’m sometimes amused to hear people speaking of sports teams in the plural sense: “WE need to strengthen the offensive line. OUR relief pitcher showed them who’s boss.” If you have official responsibilities with the team, such language is appropriate. Otherwise, it’s understandable, but as I said, amusing.

Overly Ambitious Lawyers

I’m not exactly a skilled carpenter, but even I know that the names commonly given to lumber don’t match up to a piece’s actual dimensions.

And a law firm thought it had a class action case?

“Menards was accused of deception because it marketed and labeled its 4x4s without specifying that the boards measure 3½ by 3 ½ inches.”


Who Guards the Guards Who Guard the Guardians?

One justification for government is that a society needs someone who will step in and protect the most vulnerable when everyone else fails to step up. But to invoke an old saying, “Who guards the guardians?” Or in this case, who guards the people who oversee the guardians?

This article is about the abuses of court-appointed guardians for adults. I don’t know how widespread the problem is, but … wow.

“I kept researching, because I was so fascinated that these people could literally take over the lives and assets of people under color of law, in less than ten minutes, and nobody was asking questions. … These people spent their lives accumulating wealth and, in a blink of an eye, it was someone else’s.”


The High-income Students are Where?

We’re not always logical when it comes to the way we use the English language. Stories about schools and education policy, for example, may mention “low-income students.”

I don’t think I’ve ever met a student, at least a K-12 student, who is not a “low-income” individual. Somehow I’ve missed seeing those 14-year-old middle managers, doctors, and small-business owners who have figured out how to turn a comfortable profit.

The Lingering Effects of Regulations

Yet more evidence that when “there ought to be a law” carries the day, changing the law later is an onerous task. I suppose there’s something to said for having laws not flip-flop every election, but it’s also a warning against enacting new laws in the first place. “Rules governing America’s more than $200-billion-a-year retail alcoholic beverage industry can be traced back to Prohibition’s repeal in 1933.” States “have also profited handsomely from their heavy regulatory hand.”


Don’t Drink and Shoot

The Iowa Legislature recently passed a bill concerning gun ownership. One amendment added late to the bill: If you teach your young children how to handle a gun, don’t be drunk when you’re doing it.


Work is, aside from a means of providing for one’s financial needs, an activity that ennobles the spirit and provides meaningful connections to others. Is our medical welfare system making it easier for millions of men to live stoned (if they don’t die a premature death)?

“By 2013 … more Americans died from drug overdoses (largely but not wholly opioid abuse) than from either traffic fatalities or guns. … In our mind’s eye we can now picture many millions of un-working men in the prime of life, out of work and not looking for jobs, sitting in front of screens—stoned.”

“Oxycontin is not cheap. [O]ne main mechanism [of paying for it] today has been the welfare state: more specifically, Medicaid, Uncle Sam’s means-tested health-benefits program.”


Drain the wonkery

Here’s a recent comment from someone whose work I edited: “Thanks for draining the extra wonkery out of the piece, as usual.”

If you have a message that touches on public policy and you need someone to drain the wonkery out of your document, drop me a line via LinkedIn.

Using Uber, not a bus system, to satisfy transportation needs

A city experiments with subsidizing people’s transportation needs through ride-sharing services such as Uber. It gets people from A to B, without the capital costs of new buses or (more expensive yet) rail lines.

The response from (taxpayer subsidized) public radio? Hey, this may be a bad thing because it could put more cars on the road.

Sounds like someone wants to help the poor, as long as they don’t get to use the same options as everyone else.

Once you scroll back hundreds of off-topic discussions in the comments section of the article, you find this: “Uber’s business model is what you’d expect to see in third world nations,” plus a slam at Uber drivers for being native, ignorant, and desperate. There those rascally people go again, thinking for themselves.

As for my own use of Uber, I’ve had both positive and negative experiences — as I have had with mass-transit systems. I say kudos to Alta Monte Springs, Florida, for focusing on addressing human needs and doing so in a way that is aware of changes in the economy.