Aiming and Missing, Over and Over Again-Shoots from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii – Feb. 2, 2005

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“Dick Rowland Image”

Two current local controversies are, to me, related. Both have to do with news media, legislators and the public in general accepting seriously faulty concepts without any constructive thinking.


As a starter, we have a state legislator introducing a law which would require all persons 75+ years of age to take a driver’s test. The obvious assumption is that a driver’s test is a valid indication of a driver’s competence. But is it? I think not because no one ever asks, after an accident caused by an incompetent driver the obvious questions: “who passed this driver? When? What do the records say? Did the examiner do a good job?” Thus, it is apparent to me that such a test is a kind of “right of passage” or “pablum for the masses” which is long on form and with little or no substance.

The other problem disturbing our community is the prevalence of sewage spills triggered by heavy rains. Read the stories about all this carefully and you will find a kind of hazy hope or wish that government, which runs the whole flawed system, could do a better job. And there is also an innocent hopeful feeling that if they (the government) would just spend more money, the system would be flawless. Note what is missing: accountability. No one is identified as responsible except in pointless terms, like “The Harris administration diverted money to vision teams from sewer repair.” No one is to be held accountable. Not ever. Simply never.

Contrast these two controversies with a privately owned system.

Assume that the government, by law, said that all driver’s licenses would be issued by auto insurance companies without any guidance except that all drivers issued licenses would be competent. Now, if a 76-year-old driver proved to be unsuitable, don’t you believe that the first question asked would be “what insurance company issued that license and why?” and “should they be held financially accountable for a mistake?”

Regarding sewer systems, assume that a private company was operating the system, having won a bid to do so. Do you honestly think that our news media, legislators and the public would not be calling for investigation, financial damage claims and the like? Would they accept an excuse like “Well, some construction company put heavy materials down a manhole and that caused the problem.” Or, would it be “The company operating the sewer system is obligated to keep foreign material out of the system, let’s sue and see if we can prove them liable.”

Please note that Harris (or whatever government official) is never expected to perform under danger of real consequences — like being fined $2,000,000 for malfeasance. And, please don’t tell me that elections constitute accountability. The founding fathers of our nation thought that political leadership should be accomplished by lay citizens who had a real job in private life. George Washington, in his farewell address, noted that he was a farmer and that he was returning to his farm with great relief and happy anticipation.

It seems to me that, to use an overused term, a new paradigm is needed. Now. In government. Top to bottom.

Otherwise, we will keep aiming and missing genuine progress toward good “public service” a term that should mean good service to the public if we were paying any attention at all.

”’Richard O. Rowland is president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a non-partisan, non-profit public policy institute focused on promoting the free-market, individual freedom and liberty. He is now in his third career; the first culminating in his retirement as a Colonel, U.S. Army Military Police Corps, from the second he retired as a Financial Representative with Northwestern Mutual Network. He has a premonition that any further careers will not be in government service. He can be reached via email at:”’ ”’More information about the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii can be found at its Web site at”’

”’This editorial is intended to provoke thought, discussion and an examination of issues. It does not reflect official policy of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. See the GRIH Web site at:”’

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Daily Policy Digest


Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2005

Walking is the most dangerous form of transportation, accounting for 11.3 percent of transportation fatalities nationwide, according to the Surface Transportation Policy Project.

Data from the STPP’s 2004 report reveals:

In 2003 some 4,827 pedestrians were killed while crossing the street and an additional 70,000 were injured.
Between 2002-2003, three Florida metropolitan areas topped the list of the three most dangerous cities to walk: Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater and West-Palm Beach-Boca Raton.

The most dangerous cities, says STPP are characterized by wide, high-speed arterial roads that are hazardous for pedestrians.

The majority (about 52 percent) of pedestrian fatalities occurred on arterial roads, while less than 15 percent occurred on interstates and freeways, however, more than 40 percent of pedestrians were killed in areas where no crosswalk was available.

Ironically, the Orlando and St. Petersburg areas spend more federal funds per capita on pedestrian and bicycle facilities than any of the 50 largest metropolitan areas.

STPP notes that between 1994 and 2003, pedestrian fatalities have declined by almost 13 percent, however, the percentage of people walking to work declined at an even greater rates.

Source: Report, “Mean Streets 2004,” Surface Transportation Policy Project, Dec. 2, 2004.

For report:

For more on Urban Land Use:

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