Land O Links

*It is the avowed policy of the state of Michigan that:

A. Drivers and passengers in motor vehicles must be belted in order to protect the public safety.

B. Motorcycle riders – adult ones, anyway – do not have to wear helmets.

C. Using your phone to text while driving is a safety hazard and thereby illegal.

D. Speaking on a cell phone – hand-held or hands free – is perfectly legal.

Now, these points aren’t logically reconcilable to start, but add in this:

“The study headed by University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer concludes that it's not a lack of free hands that makes talking and driving dangerous, it's the simple fact that you're splitting your attention between the road and arguing over dinner plans.”

State lawmakers will soon be home for the summer – which provides an excellent opportunity for citizens to discuss with them the governing philosophy at play in Lansing.

So, citizen, ask your senator and your representative to explain: 1. Why seat belts are required, but helmets are not?; 2. Why are texts bad and phone calls not?

*Michigan is far from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, but we apparently are threatened by sea-level rise, according to a new map of flooding risks from FEMA.

*Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, says the National Security Agency surveillance programs have stopped “dozens” of terrorist attacks. He knows this because he is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

He thinks people will be more supportive of the surveillance work if they know its results. But how can the public know what is classified? This is a fundamental problem for national security policy in a democratic republic. Security, we are told, requires secrecy. Yet, if a government’s work is secret, how can its bosses – the citizens – properly vet the “employee’s” work?

land-o-links*Universities across the country are freezing tuition rates in apparent response to political pressure, perceived or real, from lawmakers representing stressed-out families.

For the current budget year, Michigan lawmakers enacted an incentive fund ($36 million) to, among other things, encourage universities to hold the line on tuition. In the same budget, though, the amount of state aid for higher ed (about $1.4 billion) represented a 26 percent reduction from the start of the century. (Here’s the math: The 2000-01 state aid was $1.91 billion. Adjusted for inflation, that figure would be $2.58 billion for 2012-13.)

*From Atlas Obscura: The world’s shortest international bridge. And, while in private hands, it is not owned by Manuel Moroun and his family.

About The Author

Derek Melot

Derek Melot is a former assistant editorial page editor, columnist and reporter at the Lansing State Journal, where he covered state and local issues extensively, earning awards from the Associated Press and Michigan Press Association. The Oklahoma native moved to Michigan in 1999, and served as Bridge editor through mid-2013.

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