Sometimes I get confused about which section of The State Newspaper I am reading. This morning, for example, I didn’t see anything about the soaring costs of college educations, but in the Metro/Region Section there is a humorous item about the elliptical exercise machines in student fitness centers at Furman and The University of South Carolina now being equipped with generators and connected to the university power grids for the purpose of generating “carbon-free electricity.” The power generated is metered and continuously displayed, at Furman, on a flat-screen TV to motivate the student exercisers. I’m pretty sure I know why the article does not reveal the installation and maintenance costs or the value of the energy generated, but it does sort of let the cat out of the bag with this statement: “A typical 30 minute workout can power a laptop for an hour.” Probably the laptop in question is powered up back in the dorm room during the exercise. You’d think the students would at least learn something about the waste and futility of such projects, but this quote from one raises serious doubts: “It’s a great thing. It’s a way all students can give back.” Hey, students, if you want to do some giving, I have a better idea: Visit and get acquainted with an elderly or disabled person and mow their yard or rake their leaves.
There is a funny story in the Nation Section about planned changes at the USPS, including a change in standard first class mail delivery times from the current 1-3 days to 2-3 days which would “eliminate the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day,” and could mean that a “birthday card mailed first-class to Mom could arrive a day or two late, if people don’t plan ahead.” Who are these people who need to plan ahead if my birthday card to Mother is to arrive on time? If it is I, don’t I already have that burden of planning ahead to get her card there on time? Anyway, it bothers me not at all to give up that “chance” of next day delivery.
Referring to a whole bundle of changes proposed by the USPS to get its financial house in order, the AP writer declares that, “The changes which would provide short term relief, ultimately could prove counterproductive, pushing more of America’s business onto the Internet.” I think, for the nation as a whole, that would be classified as productive rather than counterproductive.
Don’t worry too much about these proposed changes in postal service though. Although the USPS is an “independent agency” that “does not receive tax money” and is supposed to be self-sustaining, the rules do not allow it to make significant changes in service without congressional approval and it is allowed to borrow, if not “receive,” tax dollars. I expect congress to step up to the plate soon and loan some more money.
In the Nation Section, there didn’t seem to be any major stories about the facts that our Social Security Trust Fund has no money in it and that benefits payouts are now exceeding receipts from Social Security taxes, but there is an item, worth a chuckle or two, or maybe a groan, about Senator Harry Reid pushing for an extended cut in the Social Security Payroll Tax. Is he thinking this will help? He says he has worked out a compromise with Republicans and that the cut will be “paid for,” but nobody on the Republican side seems to know anything about it. On second look, it’s not “news,” but economist Robert Samuelson does have a column on this general subject on the Editorial Page titled The Welfare State’s Reckoning. Nothing funny there…just cold hard logic.
The Sports Section dominates as usual with five full pages, excluding ads but with large pictures admittedly winning out over text. In addition, the top third of the front page is dominated by a sports picture and a few words about upcoming Orange and Capital One Bowl Games for Clemson and USC. USC, it is revealed, will get $4.6M just for participating. With that kind of payout, they should be able to equip all the team exercise equipment with generators and get them all hooked to the USC grid. Now that could generate some power!
I think I know where the writers for The Onion get their ideas.
Oh, and on the Comics Page, Zits, as usual, is hilarious, especially for anybody with even dimly remembered experience raising teenage boys.