Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Stepping Up

I am still struggling with the same post I have been working on for the past few weeks. In the interim the following story has achieved some local note and I thought it worth telling.

For the last week or so our neighborhood has been agog as Ty Pennington and the crew of "Extreme Makeover, Home Edition" has descended on it. As usual, they have created a lot of local press for the show with Senators, Congressman and a Governor all showing up to put their face to the process. Although the show picks worthy recipients and its likely done with great intentions, Ty and the shows producers receive a reward in money and adulation. They do not need mine.

This story is about people who stepped up to a problem with no mind to the personal cost.

Vicki and Erik Swenson are teachers at Hopkins High School. Both are doing worth while work but will never get rich doing it. Last year the justice system failed Vicki's sister Teri Lee and she was brutally slain by a stalker. The Swenson's stepped up and took in her 4 children. Add that to the child they already had and the twins they were expecting at the time and you can see where things might be a bit strained around the Swenson household. Vicki has also become something of a local spokesperson for Victims Rights

"Extreme Makeover" stepping in is a great story. To me the great story is the Swenson's. People who step up to a problem knowing it will be hard make me humble.

BTW, they put up the new house in 99 hours. WOW

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Justice Served

The post I have been working on for the last few days is coming hard so I am going to shift a bit and point up something I saw in the Star Tribune today.

In 1966, Burglar William Barnes shot Rookie Policeman Walter Barclay. Barclay was severely injured and spent the rest of his life as a paraplegic. Barnes was arrested, convicted and served a prison sentence for the crime.

Barclay recently died and the Bucks County, Pennsylvania coroner ruled his death "resulted from injuries incurred in the shooting". The District Attorney is considering filing murder charges against Barnes.

Is this right? There is no question that Barnes actions were reprehensible. Barnes was also tried, convicted and served a sentence for the original crime. Is 40 years too long to be considered proximate to Barclays death? Is it right for the state to have 2 shots at Barnes for the same crime? How will justice be served here?

This one bothers me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Made In China

We did it to ourselves.

We have adopted the Wal-Mart mentality and chased low prices to its ultimate end. We are now enjoying the results with random bouts of poisonous toys, dangerous food additives, fake drugs and faulty tires.

The press is at least 6 years late getting to this story, but now that they are many retailers are being more proactive with product testing and third party certifications. The Chinese have responded by shooting certain officials. All are guilty of the greatest sin in Chinese business, they were caught.

Shame on the Chinese, more importantly SHAME ON US. In the channel from manufacturer to retailer, the majority of the profit generated on any given product is at the retailers. All of their purchase contracts express the requirements for products that are in compliance with US law. Until now though, they were seldom checked. The retailers have avoided looking for many reasons. The end result though has been the carryover of flakey Chinese business practices to our shores. The retailers have all pointed to the Chinese for making substandard product. If the retailers had actually LOOKED at what they were selling maybe we would not be at this point. Chinese manufacturers of course can not be held responsible in this country. So who is?

I think it is time that retailers were held primarily responsible for the dangerous imports they put on their shelves when the manufacturers are out of reach.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Hind Sight

I guess I should not be surprised at how much the national and local news has been dominated by the 35W bridge collapse last week.

Having lived in Minnesota for 20 years I am certainly not surprised at how people jumped to the aid of others without prompting or thought.

So I probably should not be surprised that the media is already publishing stories trying to put blame for this incident on some one or some group. I am curious, why does the media assume that there is always incompetence or neglect behind these disasters? To assume that some one is always responsible also assumes that we are always perfect in our knowledge. That seems like unreasonably high standards to me.