I don't know about you, but have about had it “up to here” with so-called alternative facts. Back in the day these were called “bald-faced lies,” but I guess thinking this makes me an an out-of-it curmudgeon. So be it. 


Anyway, I thought perhaps if you are of like mind, you might enjoy reading some actual true facts for a change. You know, something you can sink your teeth into without triggering a gag reflex. If I may adapt an old children's ditty: “Knick-knack paddy fact, give the dog a bone, this old fact came rolling home.”


To begin, I have railed several times about oblivious drivers running of red lights in downtown Cadillac. My friend, Bernie Bovee, has backed me on these observations as we both have witnessed scofflaws on several occasions. So, it's good to know that Bernie and I are not whistling in the dark. We now have some facts to prove something is amiss (both in Cadillac and everywhere else). 


“The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found 88 percent of drivers 19- to 24-years-old acknowledged engaging in risky behavior such as texting while driving, running red lights or speeding. Millennials acknowledged typing or sending a text or email while driving at nearly twice the rate of other drivers (59.3 percent to 31.4 percent). Nearly half of Millennials reported running a red light even if they could have stopped safely.” (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/02/15/millennial-drivers-highway-hazards-survey-shows/97888336/


Admittedly, Bernie and I are a tad north of the Millennial age group, so we don't consider being involved in an automobile accident a fun activity. It's interesting to note what government programs people over 50 years of age consider important. According to a Kaiser survey, these are: social security (83 percent), medicare (77 percent), aid to public schools (75 percent, defense and military (73 percent), loans for college students (64 percent), medicaid (63 percent) and foreign aid (18 percent). 

These priorities have no political boundaries and are pretty much universally supported. Republicans (71 percent), Democrats (83 percent), and Independents (73 percent) are in agreement across the board.  (http://kff.org/medicaid/poll-finding/medicare-and-medicaid-at-50/)


One group that does not need to worry about how government programs affect them is a small cadre of eight. “The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population...a handful of rich men headed by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates are worth $426bn, equivalent to the wealth of 3.6 billion people...Last year, the world’s 62 richest billionaires were as wealthy as half the world’s population. However, the number has dropped to eight in 2017 because new information shows that poverty in China and India is worse than previously thought.” (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jan/16/worlds-eight-richest-people-have-same-wealth-as-poorest-50)


These folks have money in the bank, so to speak. That's not the case with all Americans. The FDIC found that many Americans have no banking account or are underbanked. “Seven percent of U.S. households were unbanked in 2015. This proportion represents approximately 9.0 million U.S. households composed of 15.6 million adults and 7.6 million children. Almost twenty percent of households in the U.S. were underbanked in 2015, meaning that the household had a bank account but also obtained a financial service or product outside the banking system.” Michigan residents were pretty much at the national average. You can see th detailed stats at: https://www.economicinclusion.gov/surveys/2015household/.


Always in the news is the Obamacare/Affordable Care Act/repeal-replace harangue. This whole issue has more prickly points than an piqued porcupine. Perhaps one of the most curious facets is the number of people who don't know the law exists. A CNBC poll found that thirty percent of the people did not know what the Affordable Care Act was; never heard of it. Plus, more people were opposed to “Obamacare” than were opposed to the “ACA.” (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/09/27/poll-obamacare-vs-affordable-care-act/)


Wait, it gets even more convoluted. There seems to be a segment of the population that does not know that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are the same thing. “Obamacare” is just a nickname for the ACA. Some people think getting rid of Obamacare is no problem because they will still be covered under the ACA. 


“For more than a third of respondents in a recent survey, the switch makes perfect sense. Seventeen percent said they thought Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act were different programs, and 18 percent said they did not know. That means 35 percent were not aware that Obamacare and ACA are simply different names for the same thing. And 45 percent did not recognize that repealing Obamacare would eliminate the ACA. Twelve percent thought the ACA would remain in place after repeal, and 32 percent did not know.” (http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/health-cents/Lets-repeal-Obamacare-and-replace-it-with-the-ACA.html)


(Disclaimer: The Cadillac News chose not to include the following paragraph in their print or online editions.)

It turns out this “bigly cluelessness” is great fodder for a comedy routine. Jimmy Kimmel did “man on the street” interviews on the subject in 2013 (https://youtu.be/sx2scvIFGjE) and 2017 (https://youtu.be/N6m7pWEMPlA). Over eight million viewers have watched these because they are very funny. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews