National Work Zone Awareness Week

As much as I despise him, I’ve decided to go a little Andy Rooney with my post today.

As I was driving into work today, I looked up to see a message flashing on one of the permanent traffic information boards that are spaced about every five miles apart on my drive through Fort Worth on my way to work. 

Sometime these signs contain useful or even important information.  They will let me know a few days ahead when there will be scheduled road repair or if a NASCAR race will be affecting traffic that week.  Often there are Amber Alert messages regarding missing children or elderly.  When I see these messages, I make a mental note of their content in case I actually see the car that is wanted or matches the description.  This seems like a great use of technology to me.  Sometimes there is an accident ahead that is significant enough to warrant a warning on the signs.  Those days I take an alternate route.

However, there are also the days when someone is put in charge of the sign who feels like things need to be tricked-up a little.  I have grown used to the “Buckle Up” admonition, and the polite desire that I “Have a Nice Day,” but every now and then some joker feels the need to say something different.  These messages sometimes encourage me to pay attention to road workers even if there is no road work to pay attention to.  In other cases, I have been encouraged to vote.

The only real affect that I have noticed from innocuous messages such as these, is that they affect the flow of traffic as people feel like they have to slow down to read them.  It seems to me that when signs are used in this manner that they defeat the purpose of having the sign in the first place.  I have even seen accidents shortly before getting to the signs that were probably caused by people breaking to read the signs while other people trying to read the signs hit them in the rear.

This morning as I drove to work, I was greeted with a message informing me that it is Work Zone Awareness Week.  I looked this up in the internet, and not only is it Work Zone Awareness Week, it is National Work Zone Awareness Week.  This struck me as a little odd.  Of course, there were no work zones on my twenty mile trip to work for me to be aware of, but that was not all.  I suddenly thought, “Pretty soon we are going to have a week for everything.”  But, there are only 52 weeks in a year.  So, is ‘Work Zone Awareness’ in the top 52 things that I need to be worried about.  I find that hard to believe.

So, I assume there must be some serious overlap here.  Every week must have multiple causes that are competing to make sure that I am aware of them.  In the cacophony of causes something is lost.  I am just not able to care that much about all of this stuff, and  regardless of that, I always try to be safe when I am driving down the road anyway. 

So what is the real purposed of National Work Zone Awareness Week?  I can only assume it is three fold.  1) To give the folks that sit at a desk in a boring job at the highway department something to do.  2) To provide revenues to advertising agencies that have won lucrative government contracts to promote these types of things. 3) To assure that my drive home from work takes a little longer as people slow down to read the ‘very important’ message that has been provided for our edification.

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Let the Newspaper Industry Die

I have been mostly staying away from politics since Obama has taken office.  All of his real policy changes so far have been on the social side (i.e. stem cell funding), and therefore, as a conservative, I oppose them.  On the other side (the Republican side), I am even more disappointed.  My party has apparently stolen the Democrats’ playbook.  All I see is the twisting of facts to promote fear of Obama’s policies.  Never mind the fact that we can simply oppose his policies because we disagree with them.  My party is spending its time spinning everything in the direction of fear.  I, therefore, have found myself farther removed from politics than at any point in my life.  Oh yeah, and Newt Gingrich is thinking of running in 2012.  great.  Looks like we learned a lot from that McCAin nomination.

Now that my first rant is over, I will get to the reason for my re-injecting myself into the political process.  It seems that Democrat Senator Benjamin Cardin is proposing measures to save the newspaper industry.  This is the dumbest idea to come out of Washington in years.

He proposes that newspapers be allowed to become non-profit organizations.  They will not be allowed to ‘endorse’ a candidate if they do, but they will still be able to report on elections and editorialize them.

This makes no sense whatsoever.  Reporting is never, ever unbiased.  I would rather have my news provided by an organization that announces its bias up front.  That way I can filter the information that they give me in light of these biases.

Cardin said: “We are losing our newspaper industry.  The economy has caused an immediate problem, but the business model for newspapers, based on circulation and advertising revenue, is broken, and that is a real tragedy for communities across the nation and for our democracy.”

The fact is, saving the newspaper industry would be like attempting to save the steam driven engine industry.  There is no need for it.  There is something better and much more effective available to replace the newspaper industry, the Internet.  There is no information available in a newspaper that is not already available on the Internet for free.  And, even though there may be some crazy views expressed on the Internet, it is still a place where all views are available on any topic.

The great thing is that the reader on the Internet is allowed to form his own opinion on any topic by looking at many divergent opinions, not just the myopic opinions delivered by the editorial page of a newspaper.

The Federal government does not need to get into the business of supporting newspapers for several reasons.  First, they are dying a natural death because the public is no longer interested in their product.  No amount of government support is going to make people want to read newspapers more.  Second, I have serious reservations about the government injecting itself in any way in the reporting process.  This is simply dangerous, and politicians cannot be trusted not to try any control information once they start subsidizing the industry.  And three, the press does not need to feel like it owes any politician for its livelihood.  Any situation like this could not be healthy.

In the end, with the abundance of network and cable news programs, along with radio and the Internet, newspapers are simply no longer necessary.  A few will survive because they will find a niche,  The rest need to be allowed to die a natural death.