In two days I've covered one drowning and one near drowning. We've had a total of three accidents in the water and it should serve as a reminder to all parents and guardians - watch your kids and follow the rules!
Every day I log on to the web site www.poynter.org to search for story ideas and to get the latest inside dirt on the TV business. One contributor on the site pitches a long list of story ideas, but today he added a bit of commentary that I enjoyed and would like to share.
Here you go:
Ideas the Presidential Candidates Should Propose
Occasionally I offer my ideas about how to improve the country. Here are some ideas that I think the candidates should propose but don't -- which is why you should ask them about them:
-- Five-day-a-week postal delivery. Why do we deliver mail on Saturdays? If you definitely have to have it on the weekend, turn to a private delivery service. If you are waiting for a check, get direct deposit. The U.S. Postal Service has considered this before and chickened out. It looks as though Saturday deliveries will end by 2011 in the UK.
A recent story by WCCO-TV in Minneapolis explains that mail is delivered six days a week by law, and if it dropped to five, then it would mess up the entire delivery system because mail would stack up for Monday and carriers wouldn't have enough time to make their rounds. Still, people are mailing less and less these days.
-- A Manhattan Project for energy. I watched this story on NBC Nightly News this week and grew frustrated that it will likely be a while before we find a new alternative to gasoline. Heck, if oil reserves are a national defense issue then let's defend ourselves by finding new ways to run our cars, planes, etc. I would turn this over to the people at NASA and tell them to invent a new engine. Who knows, it could be useful in space flight. I think Americans would be willing to pour billions into this. Oil companies would hate it. Waiting around for private developers to come up with the answers is going to take too long. While I usually don't like federal programs for this sort of situation, I think the stakes are high enough that it is justifiable this time.
-- Year-round school. This is just a no-brainer. Kids lose so much when they sit out of class for three months in the summer. Shorter and more frequent breaks make sense. The old system is tied to the days when kids were needed on the farm. Theme parks would get business year-round because there would not be a singular vacation season; there would be a bunch of them. It is largely a local and state decision. The hottest or coldest month of the year in a particular location should be a vacation month to save on electricity.
-- Put some effort into developing drought-resistant landscaping plants. We need some innovation that will develop plants and grasses that do not need so much water. I know there are fertilizers and even some grasses that need less water, but the drought-resistant stuff still looks brown and sickly. We can cut water use if we don't need to water lawns. The U.S. Department of Agriculture should do this.
-- Tax credit for blood and organ donations. I have heard that the organ transplant and blood donation system depends on people who just want to do the right thing. It is not working so well. We always have blood shortages, and people are dying who need livers, hearts and lungs. You should get a $50 tax credit for every pint of blood you donate, and we should figure out some kind of tax credit to the estates of people who donate their organs upon death. I do not want such incentives for live donors.
-- All sunglasses sold in the United States must include UV protection. It is a public health issue.
-- All federally-elected officials should hold a news conference at least once per month. No more hiding, even when things are bad. No news conference should mean no check.
-- Change presidential primary election system to a regional system. I have had it with Iowa and New Hampshire getting all the attention.
-- Scrap the electoral system. Replace it with a system that people understand. If you get the most votes, shouldn't you win the race?
-- Open all courtrooms to cameras. Start with the Supreme Court and appeals courts.
-- Stop allowing the federal flood insurance program to sell policies to new construction in the worst flood-prone areas. We are in a cycle of "flood-rebuild-repeat." Stop it.
-- End the Social Security penalty for working seniors. If you are between 62 and 65 years old and earn more than $13,560 a year, you begin to lose your Social Security benefits. Why? The amount you get from Social Security should not have anything to do with how much you earn. Give people a reason to stay productive and keep contributing to society for as long as they can. When a lot of people quit working they begin dying. By the way, as long as they are working, they are also paying into the system -- they are paying income taxes and they have money to spend.
-- End special congressional health care coverage. Every member of Congress should be covered by a private health care plan just like the rest of us. This way, we would get health care reforms. Members of Congress have their own pharmacy, nurses and doctors, and they can get a physical, x-ray or electrocardiogram without ever missing work. House members pay $300 a month, and senators pay an estimated $600 a month for this service. Taxpayers pay about $2 million.