2017-11-08 / Opinions & Letters

Know your stuff

Midwest Memo
by Alan Shultz

When my grandchildren return home from school, they hop off the school bus at the corner and walk the short half block home. Whoever gets to the mailbox first grabs the mail and then the three all race up the steep driveway to the garage door that is left open for their arrival.

Inside the house they shed backpacks and coats, put in their requests for a snack and hop up on stools surrounding the big work island in the middle of the kitchen.

Out comes the homework for the following day at school. And then they go at it.

There are graphs to finish, math problems to answer and sentences with words to complete. Pencils fly, erasers correct and rulers snap straight lines as the work gets done.

The children have to do their homework so that they can know their stuff the next day at school when called upon. It takes work and discipline to know your stuff.

I like dealing with folks who “know their stuff.”

Recently I attended a program that included an economist and a panel of experts discussing the state of real estate and the economy. The program was hosted by a big city bank. The entire presentation was information packed and the question and answer period at the end was really value added. What was obvious from the moderator’s opening remarks to the last question answered at the end of the program - these folks did their homework and they knew their stuff.

It seems to me that the partisan divide and the shouting and name calling amongst lawmakers in the Nation’s Capital has given cover to a lot of folks who don’t know their stuff. A real debate requires a command of the issues. A real debate requires facts and logic.

Name calling and grandstanding require neither facts nor logic.

Legislation passed in 2016 that weakened the ability of the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate opioid medication shipments in bulk recently came under scrutiny. Joint coverage by the Washington Post and the CBS program “60 Minutes” put light on the law that allows pharmaceutical wholesalers to ship huge shipments to small markets that could not legitimately consume same. The law seems contrary to the mutual goal stated by both Republicans and Democrats to fight the nation’s opioid epidemic.

While the backers of the law appear to have had hidden agendas, the law passed Congress almost unanimously and with little debate. I am left to assume that the majority of the lawmakers who voted for the law were not on the take, were not devious - they just didn’t know their stuff.

All the angry noise in Washington has given cover for those who don’t do their homework.

We require school children to do their homework and know their stuff, shouldn’t we require the same of our lawmakers? Observation

Last night about 8 p.m. I crossed the street in the pedestrian crosswalk. I looked both ways before I stepped off the curb. Visibility was good; the weather posed no issues. Crossing the street should have been a non-event.

Except that I almost got run down.

The beige four-door Camry that came within inches of my belt buckle came to an abrupt halt when the driver realized that he had missed the stop sign altogether. It’s an old story. He was a ride-share driver looking for his fare at the same time he was looking at his phone. I was not in the mix.

My feelings at that very moment teetered between fear and rage mixed with annoyance and gratitude.

Before I could fully react, the driver of the car rolled down his window.

“I am so sorry,” he said.

And that was all that was needed; the matter was over. The apology seemed genuine and proved sufficient. We all make mistakes. A true apology, given timely, allows those mistakes a quick conclusion and also allows everyone to resume their path.

Powerful thing - the apology.

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