Sometimes you run across things that are confusing and difficult to understand. These items cause you to pause, wrinkle your face, furrow your brow, and scratch your head. I have often been accused of having an intellect rivaled only by garden tools, so this happens to me a lot.


For instance, take the current debate about an overhaul of the nation's tax code. The “get the government off my back” crowd is leading the tax cut charge. I am perplexed by this because when it comes to freeloading off the federal government the so-called “red states” are leading the way. These states receive more from the federal government than they pay into the system.



According to Wallet Hub, the top ten states most dependent on the federal government for 2017 are: 10) Indiana, 9) Maine, 8) Tennessee, 7) Montana, 6) South Carolina, 5) West Virginia, 4) Alabama, 3) New Mexico, 2) Mississippi, and 1) Kentucky. Nine of these are led by Republican administrations, with Montana being the exception.


The five states least dependent on the feds are: California (blue), Illinois (red), New Jersey(red), Minnesota (blue), and Delaware (blue). Michigan finished at 33. The average federal dependency of the red states is 20.10 compared to the blue's 33.65 (lower number equals more dependent).


So, I can't figure out why the red states want this scenario to change. They seem to be getting more back than they pay in. Meanwhile, we here in Michigan are among the states donating our tax dollars to keep them afloat. This situation is a head-scratcher. (https://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-least-dependent-on-the-federal-government/2700/)


Speaking of money, we're getting close to the Christmas shopping season and the infamous Black Friday frenzy. However, Black Friday seems to be losing its appeal. “A new analysis finds that more shoppers are choosing to spread out their holiday purchases rather than stick with the ritual of rising before dawn the morning after Thanksgiving. During the week that includes Thanksgiving, 35 percent of shoppers say they intend to do most of their shopping on Black Friday this year, down from 59 percent in 2015. The Saturday before Christmas, known as Super Saturday, has surpassed Black Friday in sales.”


Black Friday has always perplexed me. I can't think of anything I want to buy that is worth standing in the cold darkness waiting for a store to open its doors only to risk injury in a shopper stampede. It's a head-scratcher. I prefer to shop on an off-white Tuesday. (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/11/07/more-holiday-shoppers-turned-off-black-friday-report-finds/836839001/)


While that shopping hoo-hah is going on, some of us will opt to sit at home and watch football. The sport is in an interesting place. Longtime sports commentator Bob Costas said this week: “The future of football in the United States is clear — and bleak. The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains. The decline of football, which was once a cash machine, is the most significant story in American sports.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2017/11/08/bob-costas-future-football-nfl-this-game-destroys-peoples-brains/842904001/)


As most fans know, there are ongoing studies and programs seeking to make the game safer. That's why what is going on at Dartmouth College is something that needs to be considered. The Big Green were 0-10 in 2009 and 2-8 in 2009. So, Coach Buddy Teevens changed their approach in 2010. “He became the first college coach to ban live tackling from his practices. The goal: reduce concussion and injury risk with practice hits on dummies, not teammates.”


So how did that work? “Dartmouth had its first winning season in more than a decade, with injuries down 80 percent. Even more surprising, missed tackles were cut in half. What began as a moral decision to protect his players had made them more competitive.” Now, the entire Ivy League has joined in. “Last year, the Ivy League became the first NCAA conference to ban in-season hitting in practices. (See the video below.)


Since 2010, Dartmouth is 44-26. This year they are 6-2 and have outscored opponents 187-87. The Ivy League gives no athletic scholarships, so the players are true scholar-athletes. Plus, these Ivy schools are filled with pretty smart people. It's a head-scratcher as to why more attention is not being given to what their football programs are accomplishing. (http://www.ozy.com/the-huddle/the-ivy-league-coach-leading-the-charge-on-player-safety/81517)


Finally, when it comes to incredulous behavior, we humans have a knack of inventing things that must make the Big Guy upstairs think He may have made a mistake in the whole Creation thingy. “An Ozaukee County, Wisconsin mom has been charged with second degree recklessly endangering safety after she allegedly had her 9-year-old son ride on top of her minivan to hold down a plastic pool.”


Yes, you read that correctly. Citizens called 911 and the police responded. “She said she decided to put the pool on top of the minivan, so she had her child climb on the roof and hold it down while she drove.”


Now, lest you think this may have been a tad unsafe, you should know the mom took safety into consideration. She told police it was safe because “she used a strap to tie the child down on top of the pool.” (http://www.tmj4.com/news/local-news/ozaukee-county-mom-accused-of-tying-oldest-son-plastic-pool-to-roof-of-minivan)


The court will decide the case next week . If convicted, the mom faces up to ten years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine. No word on whether the son will testify on behalf of his mom. He's probably still picking the bugs from his teeth. It's a head-scratcher.


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