Cutting Edge: New ideas / Sharp opinions
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The NRA vs. hunters
In The New Republic, Lydia Depillis warns hunters, "Don't be fooled. The NRA has never cared much about the things that truly matter to hunters. Take environmental conservation, for example. The biggest factors cited for the long decline in hunting licenses ... are urbanization and the loss of wildlife habitat. The NRA, however, has been largely absent in the big fights to preserve dwindling wilderness. ...
"Here's what the NRA does fight for: The freedom to buy assault weapons ... and high-capacity magazines, neither of which are commonly used in hunting, but which comprise the lion's share of revenue for gun manufacturers. It even opposes universal background checks, which a large majority of Americans support (and the NRA itself did in 1999).
"Some hunters fear the NRA's hard-line stance is starting to give their sport a bad name. ... Hunters have published op-eds in papers big and small calling for a more moderate alternative. ...
"Moderate hunting groups do exist, of course. Thus far, however, they've largely stayed out of the Second Amendment debate, fearing retribution. ... 'Our community has never felt comfortable wading in there,' says an executive with a conservation-oriented hunting group who requested anonymity in order to speak frankly about the NRA. 'They are so ruthless, and carry such a big hammer, that very few in our community are willing to get in there and risk their wrath.' "
State stores are relics
Harrisburg's Patriot-News, in an editorial on Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to privatize state alcohol sales, writes: "One of Pennsylvania's great imponderables -- and there are many about this confounding state -- is its bizarre requirement that consumers buy their wine and spirits in one location and beer in another. That's a Prohibition-era relic that benefits no one -- with the possible exception of beer distributors who, until recently, have had an iron grip on the sales of suds. ...
"If lawmakers can get it together to pass Corbett's plan -- and it should be passed -- Pennsylvania would finally join the company of states that long ago privatized the sale of alcohol without any of the attendant Sodom and Gomorrah fallout so often cited by opponents."
A convert to vouchers
Former Washington, D.C., school chancellor Michelle Rhee explains in The Daily Beast how she came to support school vouchers, which allocate public funds that can be used to pay for a child's education in private institutions.
"As a lifelong Democrat I was adamantly against vouchers," Ms. Rhee writes, until she explored the issue as chancellor. She found herself sympathizing with parents whose local schools were dismal, such as the one where only 20 percent of the students performed at grade level.
Ms. Rhee then compared vouchers to Pell Grants, which help pay tuition at both private and public colleges, and asked this question: "Are we beholden to the public school system at any cost, or are we beholden to the public school child at any cost?"
U.S. postal service is No. 1
Americans know all about the travails of the U.S. Postal Service that prompted its decision last week to stop Saturday delivery of first-class mail. What they might not know, writes Joshua Keating in Foreign Policy, is that U.S. mail service is among the best in the world.
In 2011, a British firm ranked the postal services of G-20 countries based on access to services, operational efficiency and performance/public trust. Which came in first? That's right: the USA. Next best were Japan, South Korea, Australia and Canada. As for rising China? Dead last.
Another surprise: The USPS delivers 40 percent of the world's mail. And when researchers in a different study tested 159 countries' post offices on how fast an average letter sent to a fake address would be returned, the United States also came in first.
Drones take a break
The Borowitz Report: "Citing budgetary concerns, the United States announced today that it would discontinue regular Saturday drone strikes on U.S. citizens. ... White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged that the cutback in drone service was 'bound to be controversial.' 'In the United States, we've always prided ourselves on our ability to target our citizens with drone strikes, Monday through Saturday, regardless of the weather,' he said. ...
"The move to cut back in drone service drew sharp criticism from a longtime defender of the program, former Vice President Dick Cheney. 'Like most Americans, I thought I'd never see the day when drones just up and take Saturdays off,' he said. 'This would never be happening if I were still president.' "
First Published February 10, 2013 12:00 am