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This Week

Saturday, September 7, 2013 - 12:01 am

We're becoming a part-time nation

Today is the day to pause and reflect on the value of work and what makes it worth celebrating. There is more urgency than usual this Labor Day for that purpose, given the dramatically changing nature of the workforce. Because of a number of factors – including automation, the increased emphasis on productivity and the financial pressures of Obamacare – we are rapidly become a “part-time nation” when it comes to work. That will change this country is ways we can’t even imagine yet.

It is untrue, or at least misleading, to praise all work as “noble.” Most people have to work just to live, many of them at jobs they cannot stand. There can be a stoic grace in people who endure dreariness day in and day out. But the real nobility lies in people who try, in whatever small way, to reach beyond such necessary toil.


No texting while driving

While his car was stopped at a stop sign earlier this summer, Clarksville teenager Kynan Jarrett took a moment to text a friend. The task took a little longer than he realized, and the driver behind him started honking his horn in impatience. That startled Jarrett, jarring his focus and causing him to slip up while trying to shift his car into gear.

“I just couldn’t focus on that many things at once,” he said. “It’s probably one of the most dangerous things I’ve ever done.”

That was just one story told last week during a visit to a Clarksville school by Indiana Attorney General Craig Zoeller and U.S. Rep. Todd Young as part of AT&T’s worthy campaign aimed at educating Hoosier drivers – especially the young and inexperienced ones – about the dangers of texting while driving.


Five casualties of the War on Coal

The War on Coal continues to advance smoothly except, of course, for the collateral damage done to the American consumer. Duke Energy has announced it will close five coal-fired power plants in Indiana as part of a settlement over a lawsuit by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups. The five plants will be retired by 2018, resulting in the loss of 668 megawatts of power.

That amount will be added to the more than 50,000 megawatts of coal-fired power already taken offline or marked for retirement since January 2010, according to the Sierra Club.

And still the environmentalists aren’t satisfied. “While today’s settlement is a step in the right direction, more must be done to ensure Hoosier families are protected from rising energy bills and ... enormous health threats,” said a representative.


No loss to a technicality

Police have forever complained about suspects getting off on a technicality. Officers spend countless hours amassing evidence and building a case, only to watch in dismay as some judge sets the accused free because an “i” wasn’t dotted or a “t” wasn’t crossed. Somebody wasn’t read his rights in a timely manner.

There was a minor flaw in a search warrant. There was no real probable cause for a stop-and-frisk. How can the public have faith in the criminal justice system?

It is more than a little ironic, then, that the latest failed attempt to get a case tossed on a technicality was instituted by a police officer’s defense team. Suspended Indianapolis officer David Bisard is accused of having twice the legal blood alcohol limit when he crashed his police cruiser into three motorcycles, killing one cyclist and injuring two others.


The evolution of cruel and unusual

Even the most zealous strict constructionists have to realize that sometimes the Constitution must evolve as it is interpreted and reinterpreted based on contemporary standards. “Cruel and unusual” punishment is prohibited, for example, but no definition is given. What we consider cruel and unusual changes from generation to generation, so how we apply the Constitution to criminals.

One area of change is that of capital punishment and mental capacity. We don’t execute children because they don’t have the ability to make moral choices. We don’t execute the mentally retarded because can’t understand the relationship between actions and consequences. How about the severely mentally ill, who may have committed heinous acts without being able to stop because of defective brain chemistry over which they had no control?