Observations and Aggravations

We drove for 11 hours yesterday, ending in Charlotte, NC. We got in around dinner, so didn’t get to see much of the downtown area; what we did see looks vibrant and very “happening,” however. After we walk around today, I’ll have more firm impressions to share.

We stopped in Charlotte on our way to the beach, because the city has taxed itself (I know–amazing, isn’t it!) to provide public transit, and we wanted to see that transportation system. (If you’re a regular reader of this blog, the nerd-iness of that won’t surprise you.) More on that, too, tomorrow.

Three brief observations from the road:

The 2012 campaign is in full swing, but I have seen very few bumper stickers this cycle–certainly, far fewer than at this time in 2008. Interestingly, the few I have seen have seen have all been Obama stickers; I have yet to see a single Romney one. My very unscientific conclusion from this is that this is a low-enthusiasm election across the board, but what enthusiasm there is seems to favor Obama.

We hit a construction site on I75, between Jellico and Lake City, Tennessee.  Signs for miles ahead warned that the right lane would be closed. Most drivers (including this one) dutifully migrated into the left lane, but there were plenty of jerks who sped up in the right lane in order to pass the line and then “merge” at the point where that lane was blocked. We’ve all seen this sort of rude behavior, some people’s willingness to make the delay much longer for everyone else in order to gain a few minutes advantage for themselves. As I sat there fuming at them (they all seemed to drive SUVs, too…), it occurred to me that I was seeing a metaphor for humanity: you have the folks who play by the rules and the ones who think the rules (legal and moral alike) are for suckers. (OK, maybe I’m drawing an excessive lesson from a traffic incident, but we sat there for at least 45 minutes…)

Finally, someone on the radio was relaying the results of a poll. The question: does government do too much or too little? I didn’t hear the result, but the poll itself is a great example of Americans’ addiction to useless, idiot polling. The question itself is meaningless, just like our endless debates over “big” government vs. “small” government. The question is: what should government do, not how much. (There’s significant research showing that people who bitch about government doing “too much” are the first to scream bloody murder when services are curtailed. It’s sort of like those pious folks who love humanity but hate all their neighbors.)

If this post sounds grumpy, I did drive 11 hours yesterday….