An NPR Disappointment

I am a National Public Radio listener.  I almost always listen to Morning Edition on the way to work, All Things Considered on the way home from work, and the NPR lineup on Saturday morning.  I’ve heard Juan Williams express his opinions on NPR countless times.

When I heard that NPR had fired Williams for comments he made on Fox News, I was surprised.  When I read his full comments, I was even more surprised, and when I heard that NPR had concluded that his comments were inconsistent with their internal policies, I was shocked.  Are we really to the point where making an honest comment about feeling concern, in a much broader context, is sufficient to give rise to a dismissal?  And what exactly are the NPR policies that were violated?  As a listener, don’t I have a right to know what kind of speech codes NPR is applying to its commentators?  (And, incidentally, why didn’t those codes prevent me from hearing countless droning Daniel Schorr commentaries that inevitably circled back to the Nixon era?)

I know that many people consider NPR to be a bastion of liberal bias, but I’ve always appreciated its presentation of the news.  It profoundly disappoints me that NPR would give a long-time, respected commentator the boot for expressing honest views that cannot even remotely be construed as hate speech.  I am appalled to hear about this kind of censorship, and it causes me to lose enormous respect for NPR as a member of the news media.

Nothing out of Reach

I was flipping through the television channels this morning and came across this inspiring story about Butch Lumpkin on the Golf Channel. Born with basically no arms he not only plays golf and tennis, but seven other sports very well.

One thing he said that I really liked is that he is truly blessed because he knows whenever someone is playing against him in a sport they were giving their all because they don’t want to lose to a man with no arms. What a wonderful way of looking at the glass half full as opposed to half empty.

During these tough times we all hear alot of people complaining about what they don’t have, but the lesson to be learned from Lumpkin is concentrate on what you DO have and not on what you don’t have and life will be better.

“Waste, Fraud, And Abuse” And The New Jersey Turnpike

Come election time we hear politicians say they plan to balance governmental budgets by getting rid of waste, fraud, and abuse.  That comment always seems like a dodge to allow the candidate to avoid talking about tough budget choices — and then you run across a story like this.

It turns out that a recent audit of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority identified $43 million in wasteful payments for employee perks and bonuses.  The payments included $30 million in unjustified bonuses to management and employees without regard to performance, an employee bowling league, employee bonuses for working on their birthdays, and free E-Z pass transponders, and cash out payments for unused sick days and vacation days.  One employee with a base salary of $73,469 earned $321,985 when all payouts and bonuses were included.  All of this happened as tolls were being increased.

These kinds of stories are maddening.  They confirm our belief that some of our hard-earned tax dollars are being wasted, but they also indicate that agency administrators and legislators are abysmal failures in exercising appropriate oversight.  That result shouldn’t be surprising.  Digging into the actual uses to which tax dollars are being put is hard work, and most of our legislators aren’t nose-to-the-grindstone types who have any interest in getting into the details.  Perhaps it is time to change that?