Obama Derangement and Dementia Syndrome (ODDS)

Barak Obama
Barak Obama (Wikipedia)

Many conservatives these days suffer from Obama Derangement & Dementia Syndrome, or ODDS. (I added an extra word beginning with a D to to get a better acronym.) People suffering from ODDS believe that most everything President Obama does is bad, and most everything that goes wrong is his fault – no matter the facts of the situation. In fact, people who suffer from ODDS don’t seem to care much about facts. Instead, they seem to be driven by an irrational hatred of the man, and everything he stands for.

I will confess that I voted for a Obama twice, but I don’t think he’s perfect, and I disagree with him on several issues. But I’m certain he’s a much better President than either of his two election opponents would have been, and most of the voters agreed with me on that.

Many Financial Professionals Let Their Personal Politics Affect Their Decisions

ODDS is a chronic affliction among Wall Street and financial media people. I often consume financial media and it seems that as more proof piles up that the economy is recovering, the more these ODDS afflicted people feel compelled to warn us that we’re nearing a financial abyss because of the policies of the Obama administration.

But their warnings about an impending financial apocalypse aren’t born from economic data. In fact, they continually ignore the growing amount of data showing that a recovery is well underway. (It might be an imperfect recovery, but it’s a recovery nonetheless.) Instead, they complain it’s a “false” recovery and let their political beliefs and hatred of Obama get in the way of the truth. By letting their personal feelings corrupt the opinions they dispense they are doing a disservice to the people who take their advice. There are many people who lost out on making money in the stock market last year because they believed this negligent advice. Some of them couldn’t have been helped because they had ODDS too, but not all of them.

Open Range Laws Are Obsolete

bullshit
Bullshit (Jeff Burgess)

Last week some cows wandered onto Interstate 17 in the desert north of Phoenix, Arizona, causing a serious accident which resulted in the death of a woman.

According to Arizona’s open range laws, and the laws of many other Western states, drivers are always to blame for hitting cattle on public roads and are liable for reimbursing ranchers for dead or injured animals. Furthermore, ranchers aren’t required to fence their cattle in, but everybody else is responsible for fencing them out.

The only exception, under Arizona law, is when a community succeeds in getting the local county board of supervisors to establish a “no-fence district” as per Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) Title 3, Chapter 11, Article 8.  They are called no-fence districts because their residents aren’t required to erect fences to keep trespassing livestock off their private property. But even this law can only be implemented where there’s irrigated agricultural land or a community of at least 30,000 people.

Furthermore, if Arizona residents don’t live in a no-fence district and want to fence out unwanted livestock, the fences they build must be very sturdy and expensive in order to meet the definition of a “lawful fence.”

In regards to the protection of public lands from ecological damage caused by trespassing livestock, the Federal courts have repeatedly rendered decisions (Shannon v. United States, l60 Fed. 870 (Cir. 9 1908); Light v. United States, 220 U.S., 523; United States v. Gurley, 279 Fed. 874 (N.D. GA. 1922); United States v. Johnston, 38 F. Supp. 4 (S.D.W.VA. 1941)) holding that the United States is not required to fence public lands lands to protect them against unauthorized livestock use. In other words, it’s legal for federal agencies to subsidize the construction of fences on public grazing allotments to facilitate cattle grazing, but the Bureau or Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service aren’t required to erect fences to protect the land from trespassing livestock.

The persistence of these obsolete open range laws is is a good example of the disproportionate political clout of Western cattle ranchers.

 

Regulating Semi Trucks Could Ease Phoenix Rush Hour Traffic

semi truck
(Wikipedia)

I’ve had to drive the Phoenix freeways to and from work for many years and one of the things I’ve learned is that commercial semi-trucks are a major source of traffic congestion during rush hours – probably accounting for up to a third of the problem. They obviously take up a lot of space, but the biggest problem they cause is they disrupt the efficient flow of traffic because of their inability to accelerate and decelerate as quickly as cars.

I suggest that we should do something about it and the most effective solution would be to ban semi trucks from Arizona’s urban freeways from 7-9AM, and again from 4-6PM, every Monday through Friday.  This isn’t a new idea. Los Angeles proposed to limit big rig trucks on its freeways in 1988. The idea gained favor when a temporary trucking ban on the city’s freeways during the 1984 Summer Olympics led to a 60% reduction in traffic congestion. But L.A.’s plan to make the big rig ban permanent was stymied by a federal law that requires a comparable alternate route for any stretch of federally funded freeway that’s made off limits to trucks. This means that trucks couldn’t be banned in Phoenix until the controversial South Mountain Freeway gets built, as this new outer loop would provide truckers with an alternative to the stretch of Interstate 10 that runs through the middle of town.

One solution to this roadblock would be to get the federal law changed. But that would require a gridlocked Congress to agree on something. In the meantime, there are still some things local governments can do. In California, for example, semi trucks must drive in the slower, right-hand lanes. If the highway has three lanes or less, excluding a carpool lane, they can use only use the far right lane. If there are four lanes or more, they can use the two lanes farthest to the right. Adoption of these rules in Arizona would also solve the problem of semi trucks using carpool lanes. (Arizona law ARS 28-737, which governs the use of carpool lanes during rush hours, allows semis to use them as long as there at least two passengers.)

Another solution would be to make it more expensive for truckers to be on Arizona’s urban freeways during rush hours. They could be required to buy expensive decals and stick them on their trucks if they want to drive through town without getting a ticket during these busy hours. This would make them bear more of the cost of the traffic congestion they are causing, and the proceeds could be dedicated to improving public transportation.

I realize the stranglehold the far-right has on the Arizona legislature means any of these changes would face some stiff political opposition. There’d probably be the usual conservative think tank sponsored crapola about government overreach, and the trucking industry lobbyists would warn everybody the new rules would cause an economic catastrophe. But the traffic law changes I’ve proposed would create enormous savings in time and gasoline for many thousands of people, and also reduce air pollution – more than offsetting any increases in commercial transportation costs that might result.

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