John Laird is The Columbian's editorial page editor. His column of personal opinion appears each Sunday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes, quotes and anecdotes while wondering how Don Benton plans to pay for and build a bistate third bridge without the other state's permission:
Geezer update — One of the advantages of my impending retirement (end of July) is more autonomy in health insurance. After 45 years of employers making many health-insurance decisions for me, I'm loving the choices that now become available, both in Medicare and the array of competitive supplemental policies.
I suspect none of my employers ever enjoyed meddling in my health insurance. It made no more sense than their making dictatorial decisions about my auto insurance. Soon, I won't have to suffer through those annual employee enrollment meetings where I was politely reminded that health insurance is a "shared obligation" (that's code for you're about to get socked with a premium increase). And I suspect my bosses hated having to pay half or more of my health-insurance premiums.
Yes, the future of my health care is murky at best, but at least now I'll wrestle with the government without the intrusion of an unwilling third party.
"I've got mine; (expletive) you!" — After Battle Ground voters rejected a school levy earlier this year (they later passed a second version), one grouchy online commenter observed: "By not passing the latest levy, I don't see any direct impact on my kids."
In other words, if it offers no personal gain, then it must be opposed. Such self-absorption seems to be growing throughout America these days. Makes you wonder if these folks ever read the Sermon on the Mount.
Don't look, Ethel! — On Monday evening, after Minnesota became the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage, the city of Minneapolis illuminated the I-35W Bridge with rainbow colors. We can only hope that painfully prim Michele Bachmann is color-blind.
Over in St. Paul, Mayor Chris Coleman renamed the Wabasha Street Bridge the Freedom to Marry Bridge for one week.
Meanwhile, Bachmann and other marriage-equality foes keep trying in vain to coax the genie back into the bottle. Most likely, they're despondent after three states have legalized same-sex marriage in May. And they're probably crouched defensively knowing the U.S. Supreme Court in June could give California the green light to same-sex marriage. Darn those equality genies!
Relax and enjoy the drive — People in Clark County who suffer from Reflexive Roundabout Rage won't like what's happening in Ridgefield, where roundabouts have opened on both sides of Interstate 5. It was bad enough at the opposite corner of Clark County — with roundabouts built in Camas on both sides of state Highway 14 — but now those who are incapable of changing their motoring mind-sets are getting dizzy in north county as well.
Other people aren't so resistant to change. We recognize the many advantages of roundabouts: no red lights, no left turns, no uncertainty about U-turns, no head-on collisions and few if any T-bone crashes.
And I especially enjoy those glorious yields, which trust me and not Big Government to make my own traffic decisions.
More cucaracha stomping — Another cockroach complaint about the Columbia River Crossing that just refuses to die: They're gonna force us to pay for traffic improvements over in Oregon, too! Egads!
Well, as federal taxpayers we pay for lots of stuff in other states. But more compelling is what CRC Project Director Nancy Boyd wrote in a letter to U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler: "Assertions by some that Washington residents are paying for interchange improvements in Oregon are not accurate. … Oregon state funds will be applied to Oregon-only improvements, and Washington funds will be used for Washington-only improvements." Sadly, I doubt if that explanation will subdue the ankle-biters.
This just in — My investigative aides report that Clark County Commissioner David Madore soon will startle the world by announcing he is pro-CRC (Commissioners Rewarding Cronies).