So in today’s Orlando Sentinel two articles in particular caught my attention; one having to do with interstate commerce (who knew this was so interesting) and one having to do with policing (and parenting).
The first article “Keep monster trucking rigs off state’s highways” is about federal mandates allowing 91 foot trucks (two 33 foot semi’s plus the tractor) into the state of FL. Some FL lawmakers are attempting to block this due to safety reasons. Currently, 74 foot long trucks (two 33 foot semi’s plus tractor) are allowed. The additional 17 feet will increase passing distance, decrease control of the truck, and increase ‘sway’ in winds.
Additionally, the article mentions that not only would these larger trucks be allowed into the state (against state lawmakers’ desires) but the insurance requirements would not be any more and the rest time between trips for drivers would be shortened. This last point is the hardest of all for me to swallow. Driver fatigue is known to be a cause of crashes. This is huge to me. I am completely befuddled at the logic of the incessant pace of work we promote in America (I confess I am also an offender of such). Professions that have 24 hour shifts are ridiculous and mostly the work of lobbies and/or tradition. I do not want someone who just woke up or who has been up all night working on me – I want someone with fresh energy and alertness.
Likewise I don’t want an over-tired truck driver, driving 91 feet of truck (that’s a nine story building!). Not understand, I think most truck drivers are descent people just making a living and honestly without them America would fall apart – they are the backbone of our ‘consumeristic’ culture. However, the need to sleep! And we don’t need nine story buildings going down the highway – fatalities are sure to increase.
So who’s pushing this agenda? Well, last year FedEX and UPS (Again, nothing against them as trucking companies, we need them) spend nearly $10 million lobbying Congress and nearly $8 million in campaign contributions. So maybe Congress is more interested in their pockets and wallets than our safety on the road.
The god of mammon strikes again!
The second article was “Don’t arrest little kids, cite them…” (and “Time for Orange to quit running debtors’ prison). Seriously! Orange and Osceola county lead the state in arrests of children. Last year 107 children less than 10 years old were arrested. Some of these include ‘disorderly conduct’! Really!
Now don’t get me wrong, a 10 year old ‘killer’ needs more than a citation but when will we realize our system is broken. Only 10 kids were arrested in Miami-Dade, which has roughly twice the population of Orange County, FL.
Who else should get citations instead of jail time? Some argue the homeless. Does it make much sense to take a homeless man on the side of the road and put him in prison – at taxpayers expense. Now they owe court costs associated with the arrest on top of their current problems in life. Orange County, FL also re-arrests those who haven’t paid their outstanding fees. Orange is the only county that still re-jails those who do not show up in court due to outstanding fees. Now, if while in jail they had meaningful labor to work off their fees maybe we could see how this is beneficial but taking a person who already owes money (that they can’t or haven’t paid) and incarcerating them again seems ridiculous. Let’s increase your bill that you already can’t pay. In the banking world this would be a loan shark! And who do these policies most affect? Those least likely to be able to financially afford to pay them – the poor and the homeless.
And the system continues to work against those it is supposed to protect – the poor, the foreigner, the fatherless.