John Laird: Magic solutions, pandering, and wanton data spinning

By John Laird, Columbian Editorial Page Editor

Published:

 

Notes, quotes and anecdotes while harboring no interest whatsoever in Lance Armstrong or Manti Te'o:

Homework required — Before you present your amazing magic solution about a new bridge or light rail, do the rest of us a favor and ask yourself four questions:

(1) Was my amazing magic solution studied extensively five years ago by people who are much smarter than I am?

(2) After a thorough vetting, did these experts rule out my amazing magic solution?

(3) Was their solution endorsed by popularly elected officials on both sides of the Columbia River?

(4) Why didn't I pay attention and get involved five years ago?

Your cow milked, my ox gored — Just remember, if a politician is doing what YOU want, then he or she is carefully listening to constituents, deliberating their feedback and politely responding to their expressed needs.

But if a politician is doing what I want, it's pandering.

Speaking of pandering — I must agree, how dare President Obama exploit children by surrounding himself with kids when he signed those gun-control measures. Why, the shame of it all!

A more statesmanlike president would've done the dignified thing: Land on an aircraft carrier wearing a pilot costume and give a speech in front of a "Mission Accomplished" banner.

"Elitism" charges are back — Recent bridge-burnings by fledgling Clark County Commissioner David Madore have stirred up moth-eaten complaints from the Madoristas about the so-called "elite ruling class." Let's review three rules of local economics:

(1) Every community has a few groups of successful business leaders who strive to make it a better place to live and work.

(2) Some guardians of the status quo will always castigate these agents of change as the downtown mafia, the elitist cabal, corporate cronies and, most often, the infamous good ol' boys.

(3) Each of these communities gradually improves, though not as rapidly as it should, thus proving that (1) trumps (2).

Spinning the data — Folks predisposed to dislike Head Start are pointing to recent data indicating Head Start students do no better than other students after a few years of school. Excuse me, but that's precisely why we have Head Start, to bring low-income kids with limited access to learning resources up to speed with other kids who have ample access to learning resources. Public service performed. Job well done.

From Jesse's cold, dead fingers — "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart recently examined the controversial gun-control issue and presented a video clip of Jesse Ventura snarling, "Do we go to the Ford Motor Co. and tell them to stop making these automobiles because people get drunk and kill people in cars?"

Backed into a corner, the timid Stewart had no choice but to agree with the former pro wrestler. "No," Stewart confessed. "But we do enact stricter blood alcohol limits, raise the drinking age, ramp up enforcement and penalties, charge bartenders who serve drunks, and launch huge public awareness campaigns to stigmatize the dangerous behavior, and we do all these things because it might just help bring drunken driving rates down — I don't know — by two-thirds in a few decades (supportive chart posted on the TV screen next to Stewart)." Case closed.

How compromise works — Conservatives, if I agree that average gas prices have more than doubled since President Obama took office, will you agree that only during the George W. Bush presidency have average gas prices ever climbed above $4?

Liberals, if I agree that the stock market has soared since Obama took office, will you agree that the national debt continues to soar and has never been higher than during Obama's presidency?

All of you, if we can agree that, yes, Obama owns this economy, it's his now, and we need to stop blaming Bush, can we also agree that the Great Recession began under Bush and the national debt accelerated because of his unfunded military actions?

Good. Now we're ready to play well together. Tee it up!