Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09
A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09
Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
Upsets Even Liberals - 03-26-09
‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real - 01-15-09
This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty - 12-18-08
Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So - 12-11-08
Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit? - 7-24-08
Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage - 7-02-08
Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls" - 10-26-07
"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL" - 10-12-07
"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)
And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.
March 19, 2008
Dr. Donald R. Frey, holder of an endowed chair in family medicine at the Creighton University School of Medicine, has found he has an interesting new ally in his continuing crusade for the United States to adopt a government-mandated “universal health-care system.”
In his most recent public statement on the issue, Dr. Frey was not as outspoken as he had been in 2001 when he publicly described America’s largely privately financed health care system as a costly “mess.” He said America’s “market-driven health care,” managed by multiple private insurers, has been a failure.
In a recent Midlands Voices article in The World-Herald, Dr. Frey was less outspoken in his criticism of the American system which he had earlier called “a mess,” but he made very clear that he prefers a government-driven system like those in Western Europe, Canada, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.
Dr. Frey’s interesting new ally, warmly praised in Frey’s Midlands Voices article, is Michael Moore, the darling of left-wing liberals who believe his so-called documentaries are praiseworthy and prize-worthy.
When Moore turns his attention to health care systems, as he did in his documentary entitled “Sicko,” there is an almost laughable contrast between Moore the documentary producer promoting a Canadian or British or French or Cuban style health care system for America and Moore the citizen—grossly overweight, apparently a candidate for government-paid care for one or another of the medical problems resulting from obesity.
Would government-controlled medicine have the authority to do something to force or at least encourage individuals who create medical problems through their lack of willpower to take reasonable care of themselves?
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How in the world—either the world of logic or the world of law—could District Judge Lyn White justify setting a $500,000 bond restricting the release of Nebraska Cornhusker offensive lineman Andy Christensen, who had been arrested and jailed on a charge of alleged sexual assault last Saturday?
Without taking Christensen’s side in the case itself—that will be decided after Christensen has had his day in court—I would certainly argue that Judge White violated both the spirit and legal principle under which appearance bonds are set.
That principle is that the bond generally should be set only high enough to assure that the defendant will appear in court. The idea is not to punish the defendant for what the judge (a woman, in this case) may consider an unusually heinous crime—not to punish the defendant by forcing him to stay in jail because, in Christensen’s case, it would be difficult to come up with the $50,000 necessary to free him from incarceration pending his appearance in court.
The notion that a $500,000 bond—forcing the family or someone else interested in fair treatment to come up with $50,000—was necessary to assure Christensen would not flee from state prosecution in a widely-publicized case is simply preposterous.
James Martin Davis, well-known Omaha defense attorney, told me that an appearance bond should be set with no presumption of guilt and the amount should be reasonable with respect to the possibility of flight, with consideration given also to whether a person can reasonably be expected to be able to post the necessary 10% in order to be free until trial.
“Judges aren’t supposed to be appealing to the crowd when they set appearance bonds,” Davis said.
Setting a bond so high that the defendant, presumed innocent until proven guilty in court, has unreasonable difficulty raising the required 10% necessary for his or her release obviously can have the effect of keeping a defendant jailed before he has been committed to jail after a trial. In Christensen’s case, he was jailed after the alleged sexual assault early Saturday until his release Tuesday afternoon
* * *
Do you believe that political office holders and local civic leaders should make decisions as to highway construction in their areas? Or do you think the decision should be made by highway engineers using counts or estimates of the traffic carried or to be carried by a given stretch of highway in comparison to traffic loads being carried or to be carried on other highways in need of improvement?
The answer to those questions is, it seems to me, at the heart of the current debate over whether the State Department of Roads should divert funds from other more heavily traveled roads to complete the state system of expressways.
Some of the remaining miles of proposed expressways would carry relatively light traffic loads compared to other road projects which are competing for limited state highway funds. The argument of state senators and local community leaders seems to be “build the expressways and they (people driving on those expressways) will come.”
Roads Department officials want to wait until 2014 to undertake new work on expressways statewide—a sound course, it seems to me, in light of the decrease in federal highway aid at a time when state and local highway and street needs are increasing.
* * *
Last week I referred to a splendid editorial cartoon by The World-Herald’s Jeff Koterba. It’s sometimes said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Now I don’t necessarily agree with that old saying, especially when the words are mine (he said, rather immodestly). More seriously, I believe the cartoon I was describing in my column last week is worth more than a thousand words.
I indicated last week that I believed Koberba had done a remarkable job in depicting, in a single drawing, what I believe to be perhaps the most serious social problem facing America today—single-parent families. That single parent is almost invariably a mother with the father nowhere in the picture and with the child or children, as suggested so dramatically in Koterba’s cartoon, reaching out for the hand of a father who isn’t there. The cartoon is definitely worthy of reprinting.
Next week, a reprint of another of Koterba’s splendid cartoons, the work of a journalist who is, I believe, simply the best editorial cartoonist in the United States.
* * *
An editorial in the North Platte Telegraph pointed out that in a “State Economic Competitive Index” compiled by the American Legislative Exchange Council Nebraska was put in 34 th position among the 50 states, the rank of 1 being the most competitive and 50 being the least.
Neighboring South Dakota came in 3 rd and Wyoming 4 th and Colorado 7 th in the ratings, which consider 16 factors including income, sales and property taxes.
After listing a number of the factors which go into the ratings, The Telegraph concluded:
“Clearly, much remains to be done before Nebraska is able to compete in a level playing field nationally and with some of its closest neighbors. Let’s hope the Legislature is listening.”
It’s also worth noting well, I believe, that two of the neighboring states cited in the editorial as ranking near the top in the “economic competitive index”—South Dakota (ranked 3 rd) and Wyoming (ranked 4 th)—have no state income tax.
Nebraska, in contrast, ranked 31 st highest among the 50 states for its top marginal personal income tax rate of 6.8% and 31 st for its top marginal corporate income tax rate of 7.8%. (Also 34 th for its property tax burden, 37 th for its sale tax burden and 47 th for having 664 public employees for 10,000 residents.)
* * *
Today another lighter-note column-closer which I first used five years ago but still, I hope, has potential to appeal to your sense of humor:
Some of my more mature readers may recall a song popular some decades ago titled “I Had the Craziest Dream.” That song came to mind recently during a period when we were looking for a new dog to bring our cocker spaniel complement back up to three following the death of our “alpha dog,” Peaches, a.k.a. “the Prom Queen.” The dream went like this:
I told Marian that I would like to take her downstairs and introduce her to two cocker spaniel puppies who were prepared to demonstrate that they could read newspapers.
Marian indicated she wasn’t particularly interested, so I left in something of a snit, presumably to look for someone who would like to own a couple of cocker spaniel pups who were smart enough to read newspapers.
Then I woke up.
I was telling a friend and fellow dog lover, Jim Abel of Lincoln, the story of my dream. Jim’s response: “I think I’ll stick to dogs you can teach to shake hands.”
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