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The Value of Vision Zero is Zero

Recently in the Arizona Republic, Abe Kwok’s editorial asks the almost absurd question: “Can lower speeds in Tempe save lives?” The headline goes on to answer that question with a more absurd answer: “Probably.” This is like asking whether I can reduce head injuries if I stop beating my head against the wall. We can, of course, reduce car/pedestrian accidents to zero by banning all cars or by reducing the speed limit to zero. This ridiculous notion is embodied in the “Vision Zero” plan and Tempe is the latest city to get sucked into the vortex of this fuzzy thinking. Such plans as Vision Zero ignore the trade-off that all cities must make when they recognize the value of getting people where they need to go as safely AND as efficiently as possible. The real plan behind the Vision Zero promoters is to get people out of their cars and into Light Rail or walking or biking or using other mass transportation systems. This is a common goal of all liberal central planners; control. They just can’t stand the idea of people getting into their cars and traveling wherever they want to go and whenever they want to go.

I remember many years ago there was an organization called N.O.T.S.A.F.E which was an acronym for the National Organization Taunting Safety and Fairness Everywhere. It advocated laws that establish a nationwide five mile per hour speed limit and require that anyone walking in a thunderstorm had to carry a lightning rod, etc. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Vision Zero embodies similar logic. Let’s reduce our speed in adopting that vision to……

Diversity: The Only Meaningful Kind is Philosophical

Many organizations and committees and commissions claim to celebrate diversity. They have members from various ages and geographical areas. They have men and women (and other genders). They have old, young, blacks, browns, whites (albeit not so important today to have white males) and lesbians, gays, transgenders, bisexuals, etc. The only diverse quality that none of them ever advertise for is philosophical. This is a tragedy because philosophical diversity is the only meaningful diversity, especially if you want some diverse ideas. After all, not only do the other categories of diversity not necessarily possess a variety of views but it should be insulting to a black person or a gay person, for example, to assume of that they have certain opinions on any subject. They should be respected as individuals.

This problem is especially evident in governmental boards and commissions. I have served on several of these and I am always frustrated by the lack of philosophical diversity. The members do come from all the various groups mentioned above but they all seem to all favor more government and, therefore, become a rubber stamp for the governmental entity that appointed them. For example, bond committees always want more government bonds. They never oppose government spending; they just want to make sure the money is spent on their pet project. The same is true for transportation committees that I have served on recently. Members tend to support liberal spending plans for outmoded and inefficient systems that benefit from central planning (like Light Rail) because they are appointed by government officials who (mostly) want to spend more government money and spend it in ways that most conservatives would not favor.

Therefore, if you truly want diverse views on any of these boards/commissions/committees, you must ask for people who have diverse views and that can only be done by asking about philosophical orientation.

God Bless Laurie Roberts

I cannot remember the last time I agreed with Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts but, on December 9th she made an astounding discovery; that highly paid accountants and managers in the private sector will always outsmart government bureaucrats. This was in reference to Arizona Public Service always staying one step ahead of the Arizona Corporation Commissioners. Laurie said: “Admit, commissioners, that you are no match for a monopoly intent on maximizing profits.” In a continuing brilliant fashion, she went on to suggest the only logical solution to this conundrum; deregulation. (Competition is always a better regulator than government.) Laurie said: “Commissioners Olson and Burns have expressed support for deregulation. Talk, however, is cheap and time is short.”

Amen, Laurie. Pass the ammunition.

Trash the proposed rate increase for Trash

The City of Phoenix is in financial trouble and needs more money. Some of us are not surprised about this condition since the city has failed to solve its fiscally bankrupt pension issue and continues to waste billions on expansion of the uneconomical light rail. Meanwhile, it pays its bloated staff an average total annual compensation of more than $100,000. To make up for these unwise fiscal decisions they need to get more money wherever they can. Recently they increased the rates for water service and increased fees for Uber and Lyft rides at Sky Harbor. Now they want to increase trash pick up fees. We should oppose this.

If the City of Phoenix really wants to help residents rather than simply increase their own revenue, they should allow more competition rather than increasing fees. When I was in high school in Minneapolis, I purchased a broken down 2 ½ ton dump truck, got an engine from a junk yard, hired the kid next door, and went into the trash business. (The signs on my truck said, “My business is going to the dumps” and “If your trash is not becoming to you, it should be coming to me.”) I charged fifty cents a can (they were small then) and was the richest kid in my class within only a few weeks.

I realize that rules and regulations are much stricter now and the example I have provided above is not a realistic solution today but picking up trash is not rocket science and the general idea of allowing more competition does make sense. We do not need ANOTHER fee increase in Phoenix. Let’s rely on markets and innovation rather than bigger government.

Atheism Is Not Logical

When anyone is asked whether they believe in God they will frequently respond by asking the inquirer for the definition of God. That definition usually will have a great effect on the answer, even if the answer is Yes. But when someone claims to be an atheist, there is no similar question. My response to someone claiming to be an atheist is to ask what God they do not believe in.

Here is an example of what I mean: I had the chance many years ago to attend a lecture by Carl Sagan at the University of Arizona. He was noted for his agnostic or atheist views and he got the question from the audience of whether he believed in God. He said that depends on your definition of God. If you understand God to be a nice avuncular man who sits in the sky and counts all the sparrows that die, the answer is No. But, if you understand God as the sum of all the laws of the universe, then the answer is Yes.

So, how can someone claim to be an atheist without knowing the definition of the inquirer’s concept of God? Or, to turn it around, ask the person claiming to be an atheist what God is it that they don’t believe in? To make a blanket statement that one is an atheist without the above clarification seems to me devoid of logic.

Neil Wake Mostly Right About Prop 123

District Court Judge Neil Wake is getting some unjust criticism regarding his decision in the appeal of Proposition 123, the measure that helped fund education by taking more money out of the enabling act trust fund. Former Arizona State Treasurer Jeff DeWit warned against the action of taking too much money out of the trust fund. A better solution would have been to accelerate the sale of state trust land, as DeWit suggested. This would have brought an immediate cash infusion into the trust fund from the sales and would have guaranteed future income through the payment of real estate taxes on what was government land that paid no taxes. Both sources of money could be used to increase education spending. However, this would mean a loss of control of the state trust land by Arizona State bureaucrats. I suspect that this is part of the reason for failing to take the path that was clearly proper and legal rather than the one that was questionable, as noted in Wake’s opinion.

Jeff Flake Critics are Wrong

Anderson and Murphy are wrong about Jeff Flake

Arizona Republic letter writers Parker Anderson and Edward Murphy in today’s paper (Oct 2) are wrong in their criticism of Jeff Flake. I have known Jeff Flake well ever since I and my fellow Goldwater Institute board members hired Jeff to be our executive director nearly 30 years ago. Jeff was an outstanding director, US House member, and US Senator. Writer Anderson claims that Jeff failed to speak up (about his concerns over Trump misdeeds) but this is simply false. Jeff made his opinions clear from the day Trump was elected and was always the most outspoken (and respectful) of all the Republican Senators. Writer Murphy’s complaint is that Jeff quit the senate. This was the only honorable thing Jeff could do because of the demands in his upcoming campaign for fundraising. Jeff simply knew that he could not ask other Republicans for money while at the same time retaining his integrity by holding the President’s feet to the fire.
If anyone is seriously interested in knowing where Jeff Flake stands, they need only read his book “Conscience of a Conservative.” There has never been a more honorable person in the Congress than Jeff Flake.