MARCH 5, 2016 -- By Jim Neff
THE NEFF ZONE
CLIPS FROM THE CRATE
As I peruse the news I clip out items from newspapers that might be of use later. I toss these into a crate beneath my desk. The crate overfloweth, so now might be a good time to see what has been accumulating.
With the situation in Flint, you might wonder how things got so far out of hand. Perhaps it might have helped if the state's top medical officer would have been working full time. Unfortunately, this did not fit into Governor Snyder's spreadsheet, so the “top doc” was a part-timer. This is in clear violation of the law, which says, “the chief medical executive shall be a full-time employee.” Dr. Eden Wells' main gig was as “an associate professor and medical residency program director at the University of Michigan.” (http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/02/12/health-department-eden-wells-flint-water/80195340/)
This is how concerned the governor is about the health of Michigan citizens; we don't rate full time attention. Think of it this way. The next time you go to a hospital for surgery do you want a full time doctor performing the procedure or someone who has a regular day job (accountant, mechanic, plumber) and just does a few operations in their spare time? Which doctor gives you the best chance at survival?
While people were being poisoned in Flint, our crack legislators were focusing on some more important matters, like should Michigan raise the speed limit from 75 to 80 miles per hour. The package of bills did not pass, but proponents vow to continue the fight.
So here's my question. Who pays for the signs? Every speed limit sign on the affected routes will need to be swapped. Wisconsin did something like this last summer and each new sign cost $285. As you drive down any road, notice how many speed limit signs there are and start doing some math in your head ($285, $285, $285...). Is this how you want your road tax dollars spent, or would you rather apply those funds to filling potholes? Or (gasp!) actually repaving? (http://www.postcrescent.com/story/news/local/2015/06/27/watchdog-qa-mph-speed-limit-signs-cost/29341217/)
By the way, about those drivers your legislators want to speed up -- 87 percent of them did risky things last month according to AAA. This includes: 13 percent drove with an alcohol level near or over the legal limit, 39 percent ran a red light when they could have stopped safely, 32 percent drove when they had a hard time keeping their eyes open, 48 percent went 15 miles per hour over the speed limit on a freeway, 70 percent talked on a cellphone while driving, 42 percent read a text message, and 32 percent typed or sent texts. Yup, these folks need to go five miles per hour faster. That will help matters.
Presidential politics are front and center in the news. It takes a lot of money to run a political campaign. Email solicitations are still the number one fund raising tool and you might be surprised that people with AOL email addresses are the most highly prized by political campaigns. Why? A study found: “Only 4 percent of subscribers to political email lists had AOL.com email addresses, while 48 percent of subscribers had Gmail accounts. But those AOL users accounted for 22 percent of total donations with an average donation of $159. Gmail users accounted for only 13 percent of donations with an average gift of $31. Older people are more likely to be generous campaign donors and more likely to have a 20-year-old email account. Eighty percent of all donations from email come from people 50 or older.” Geezer power!
Thousands of words are being written about politics every day, but I am fascinated by editorial cartoons. I am amazed by the talent it requires to take a complex topic, one that might be a major story in a newspaper, and reduce that to a one-frame cartoon while still conveying the message. Every day I look at the web site of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists to explore the views from all across the country. (Some examples below.)The site even has a search function through which you can hone in on a topic or person (Flint, Trump...). I highly encourage you to check out the editorial cartoons of the day at: http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoon/.
Finally, sometimes clips come in the form of video. I've recently come across two interesting examples of this. The first one is a map of all the wars since 2500 BC. This encompasses 12,703 major battles. See what 4,500 years of war looks like at: http://www.newser.com/story/221292/heres-what-45k-years-of-war-looks-like.html.
The other video comes from a TV ad that is running in India. “This ad from India for laundry detergent movingly shows how women deal with the 'second shift' — working all day and coming home to even more household chores. And it shows how we could break the (laundry pun intended) cycle.” See this excellent two-minute video at: http://www.vox.com/2016/2/26/11121210/sandberg-laundry-ad.