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.

The 16%, and Why I Hold Them in Contempt

I have developed a lot of theories over the years.  Earlier this year, I posted one of my best, ‘The Five.’  Though I am surprised at the little interest that it has garnered.  Recently, one of my friends admitted he has discovered that one of my oldest theories is true.  It is the theory of the 16%. 

In this theory, it is supposed that 42-43% of Americans have core values that are conservative in nature.  These are most often sons and daughters that embrace the values of their parents.  They are mostly pro life and are fiscally conservative.  They usually embrace America’s heritage of rugged individualism, and are more likely to vote for the Republican party regardless of the candidate because they agree with most of the values that are promoted by the Republican Party.

The theory also supposes that there are 42-43% of Americans that have core values that are on the left.  These people believe that it is the government’s responsibility to make sure that all Americans are happy and cared for.  They believe that it is appropriate to tax people who work and are successful in order to make sure that everyone is able to live at some high standard of their determining.  They definitely have Socialist leanings, and believe (for some reason) that bigger government, and the good intentions of lawmakers will lead to a better world.  These people almost always vote Democrat regardless of the candidate because they believe the Democratic party supports the issues that they believe are important. 

I could get into an argument as to why I think the first group is right, but that is not the point of this particular post.  I am writing this article to deal with the 16% that is left over, and that is why many years ago during the 1992 elections that I developed “The Theory of the 16%.”  Thank you Ross Perot.

The point of the theory is that about 84% of Americans vote on issues.  For them, them primary season is when their candidate for president is determined.  Coming out of the conventions, they already know who they are going to vote for.  The debates will do nothing to sway them one way or another, because they already know the core issues and values of their party, and they support its candidate.  The problem is that 42% is not enough to win a presidential election.  That is where the 16% come into the picture.

There are 16% of Americans out there that have not taken the time develop a set of core values, or if they have, they do not take the time to determine which party or candidate actually is closest to the values that they hold. 

I have more respect for the hard-line person on the left than I do for the people in the 16%.  At least the liberal has developed a set of values and know why it is that they believe the things that they believe.  The 16% simply blow around like a leaf waiting for the right person to tell them what it is that they are supposed to think.

These people choose a candidate for any number of reasons.  Looks are a big factor (if you ever want to see the impact of looks on these people check out the numbers of the first Kennedy/Nixon debates, and compare the radio numbers to the television numbers at the time). 

Talking points and catch phrases become very important in winning over these people.  They do not take the time to develope ideas or investigate the details of the issues, so if you want to win their vote on the issues, it is better to have a catchy phrase or a good ‘one-liner.’ that they will remember.  Having your facts straight is unnecessary because these people cannot be bothered with the facts.  It is more important to say the things that you think they want to hear whether you believe them or not, and whether you are actually planning to carry them out or nor.  You can bet that they won’t check up on you.

The Democrats have discovered something else that is important to these people.  They will watch a terrible television program, or go see an awful movie simply because a celebrity that they like is in it.  If they can be motivated to spend their hard earned money to see a terrible movie just because Brad Pitt, for instance, is in it, how much more easily can these same celebrities be used to get this 16% to vote for the Democratic candidate?  That costs them nothing, and they get the feeling that they are able to connect with Oprah, for example.

The media is the other ace that the Democrats have in the hole.  These media outlets (excepting Foxnews) have decided to shamelessly support the Democratic candidate, in this case Obama.  The interesting thing is that their obvious bias is not where they are having the biggest effect.  Their biggest influence comes in the areas where they shape the arguments by throwing out their own suppositions.  They have intentionally changed many of the fundamental questions in these arguments so that only the democrats can win.

For instance, on  the question of the bailout, the issue that they raise is not what is best for the economy and the future of America, but “Isn’t it the governments responsibility to make sure that these Americans who were cheated are fairly compensated for it?”  On the abortion argument, they do not ask, “What is your stance on abortion and why?”  They ask rather, “Do you believe in the Constitutional right to Privacy?”  This is a loaded question.  On gay marriage, they will ask “Don’t you think all Americans should have the right to choose their own life-partner and live happily?”  Rather than, “Do you believe that the definition of marriage is one man married to one woman?”  And, on the global warming issue, they have so taken over the intellectual high ground, that we will probably never be able to have a real discussion of the issues.  Anyone who questions a “man-made cause to an imminent global catastrophe” is dismissed as an idiot who does not believe in science by the media without even allowing an argument based on science.  On issue after issue, they have chosen to frame the debate in a way that supposes the Democratic ideas are right.  The 16% is extremely susceptible to this sort of thing.

These people are also influenced heavily by polls.  As they see the polls trending one way or another, they sway towards the one that is winning.  They feel comfortable being part of the majority, and it keeps them from having to actually determine whom to vote for on their own.  They just assume that since more Americans are supporting one of the candidates over the other, there must be a reason for it.

So with all of this being said, it is easy to see why Obama is inching ahead in the polls.  He definitely is a better looking guy than McCain, and is also more telegenic.  Obamas has shown the ability to be all things to all people.  He has no problems promising anything even both sides of the same issue, because he knows that he will not be called out for it.  Since the press has already moved the arguments into his playing field, it is more easy for his answers to sound appealing.  McCain, however, is in the position of having to either reinterpret all of the questions the press asks him in a way that works for his point of view, which looks awkward, or he has has to appear more populous which offends his constituency and makes him look disingenuous.  Obama definitely has the support of Hollywood, and cashes in on it daily.

The best move McCain made in the election was to choose Palin.  She was a legitimate attempt to grab some of the 16%.  Unfortunately, in the end, the choice of the VP does not carry enough weight to make a difference.  The Republican Party has to figure out that while it is important to choose someone who that tows the party line (which by the way is not McCain), it is more important to choose a candidate that is telegenic, and is a good and forceful communicator.  This is why Fred Thompson would have been a good choice, but it is too late now.  The only hope we have now is for a huge skeleton to fall out of Obama’s closet, and it will have to be one that the press cannot ignore.