Anything from current events, campaign finance reform, sports (especially baseball), corporate/political/legal ethics, pop culture, confessions of a recovering comic book addict, and probably some overly indulgent discourses about my 3-year old daughter. E-Mail: sardonicviews -at-
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Saturday, January 17, 2004

Go Eagles

As if another reason was needed to root for the Philadelphia Eagles tomorrow, this quote from Donovan McNabb in Sports Illustrated (print edition only) should clinch it.

The Packers came floating into Philly convinced they had tapped into some supernatural source -- or, at the very least, a 34-year-old quarterback's inspired resurgence. On the other hand McNabb and the Eagles wanted no part of the d word. Recalling the previous season, when the top-seeded Eagles suffered a 27-10 home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game, McNabb said last Friday, "We were destined last year. Look, only one man knows what's going to happen next, and He doesn't care about sports."

Finally, an athlete who says that God has no rooting interest.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Clarification is Necessary

My friend and one of the co-bloggers from Pitt Sports Blather, Pat, takes me to task in a comment (in the wrong post) regarding my post on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission wanting to hike the tolls.

Pat says:

I'm surprised that a libertarian like yourself has so much faith in the Turnpike's ability to put the tolls back into road improvements - a big government Democrat like myself has very low expectations.

I understand his confusion. The actual article has the Turnpike Commissioners talking about using the money for the roads -- rebuilding and expanding them -- to relieve the congestion. I don't buy the story either. I was looking at it from more of an economic issue. The price goes up for tolls, by roughly 44%. This extra cost, hopefully, will push at least some of the trucks and passenger traffic to consider other options and roads, rather than pay the significant toll increase on the PA Turnpike. Considering the glacial pace of construction and repair, I never thought the rates would result in any major increases in the number of vehicle lanes.

Having just traveled the PA Turnpike to my folks yesterday, I am well aware of construction that has been ongoing in many patches for the last few years. Also, it is not a good thing to leave Cleveland in the cold and snow, only to find that is actually colder as we went further east.

Final thought regarding the drive yesterday. You had to do some serious speeding to force a state trooper to actually pull you over.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Now that's a toll road

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is seeking a rate hike on the tolls by this August. This is not a small hike, they want about a 44% raise in rates. That means, the family trip tomorrow to my folks in Lebanon, which presently costs $10.45 in tolls in Pennsylvania (not to mention $2 in Ohio tolls) would go up to about $15. This would make the PA Turnpike the most expensive toll road in the country.

The PA Turnpike is also one of the busiest toll roads in the country, despite its winding roads and narrow 4-lane highways most of the time. It's an annoying extra cost, but if it reduces some of the congestion, I won't be too upset. Unfortunately, I doubt it will make much of a difference.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Taxes for Good Health

It's not really about finding new ways for the state and local governments to get more money, it's really about encouraging people to eat healthier. Trust us.

The appetite to regulate what we eat has been building for a long time, even before similarly driven politicians declared war on our freedom to drive Sport Utility Vehicles. A few years back, U.S. News & World Report listed the "Twinkie tax" among the "16 smart ideas to fix the world." Here’s what they said: "How to slim down the world's fattest society. Tax the unhealthy junk food that contributes to obesity." Even earlier, in 1994, R.J. Reynolds ran a full-page newspaper ad opposing a tobacco tax that said "Today it's cigarettes. Tomorrow — will alcohol be next? Will caffeine be next? Will high-fat foods be next?"

The answer is yes, prompting proponents of personal responsibility to introduce bills in Congress and in statehouses with names like "The Commonsense Consumption Act" and "The Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Bill." And that’s how the great political food fight of 2004 will be framed. It’s red meat for libertarians and do-gooders alike.

I'm just a little skeptical.

European Union Sues

The EU is suing the 15 member states over the suspension of the Union's Stability and Growth pact. It was suspended with respect to France and Germany's budgets exceeding the spending limits. The pact is responsible for keeping the Euro stable throughout Europe. The case is to be argued before the Court of Justice. A European court created in 1952 to serve as the highest legal authority for the EU. I never heard of it. Apparently I'm not alone.

Surveys show many Europeans do not understand or know that such a court even exists. In the past three decades, the commission and member governments have argued before the court 47 times over questions of who holds specific powers in the Union, a court spokesman said.

If the court rules for the EU, then France and Germany will either have to make big budget slashes to get in line -- if they want to actually keep the Euro and the EU intact. If the EU loses, then the pact is meaningless because it can be suspended at any time without penalty.

Could be quite a test for the whole EU unified economy.


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