Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First News Article Round-Up of 2011

Here's my first news-article round-up of 2011...


Cobb and Gwinnett Counties rejected participating in MARTA back in the 1970s and Gwinnett rejected it once again in the 1990s.  This is a significant turnaround.  Whatever concerns there are about costs and importing hooligans via train (crime around Lenox went up soon after MARTA connected there) must've paled in the face of the possibility of $4 per gallon gasoline starting next summer.

Given Atlanta's notorious traffic, anything that will take cars off the road will certainly be beneficial.  Although the project paying for itself via fares is unlikely, reducing congestion and air pollution will be a major benefit and in my opinion, worth paying for.

And including Cobb and Gwinnett in MARTA might improve the governance of the organization, which has been plagued by boneheadedness and corruption in the past.

Of course, there's the issue of finding money to pay for MARTA expansion, especially in a time of budget deficits.  I don't think monies from the TSPLOST voters will vote on in 2012 can be used to pay for MARTA operations, but they could be used to pay for building the lines.


This is good news.  Considering how the alternative to reprocessing nuclear fuel is burying it somewhere for 10,000 years (and making sure our descendants know not to mess with it) or letting it pile up at the nuclear plants themselves, this is very good news.

One quibble: The article states that the National Research Council found that Bush's reprocessing program would have been uneconomical.  Here's the actual report and it's much more nuanced--the technology is not at the point needed to justify an accelerated timetable for building reprocessing sites. 


That does NOT mean that reprocessing in the United States is uneconomical.


Now this is interesting.  It reminds me of something that Richard Nixon proposed back in the 1970s, a guaranteed minimum income.

I'm not a big fan of handouts, but in the countries where this has been implemented, they've imposed all sorts of conditions on it like making sure one's children are educated and giving the monies to women rather than men. 

(Lest anyone accuse me of bashing men, I read about micro-financing in Haiti and how they gave the money to women because the men would gamble it all away on cock-fighting.) 

In the long run, this could break the cycle of poverty, producing a net gain in income (from educated workers rather than vagrants) and savings (lower incarceration and law-enforcement costs, for one).

However, IF such a thing were to be implemented, I would make it conditional on not drinking, smoking, and especially doing illegal drugs.  Drug- and alcohol-testing is surely doable.  Including classes for the adults receiving the monies would also be a good idea, since lack of education contributes to poverty and related problems, plus there is a "culture of poverty" that makes things worse for the poor that needs to be eradicated.

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