Sometimes, people just don't seem to think things all the way out.
Take the lawsuit that the Des Moines Water Works board is planning to throw at three counties and presumably farmers in the drainage districts - ours included - over nitrates in the Raccoon River.
First of all, Des Moines might want to make sure its own hands are clean before it steps in a courtroom to blame anyone else for pollution, and ends up taking a swift kick right in the legal briefs.
From what we are told, the same city's water system is responsible for dumping a third of its used water into the a river, to run on further downstream. Take a look at Des Moines with so many streets and factories, and tell me it produces no polluting run-off. Tell me Des Moines is innocent of besmirtching air and water. So who downstream and downwind would like to be the first to sue them for a fat wad of cash?
It's going to be a bit tough for Water Works to isolate a microparticle in the river as it arrives in central Iowa and produce evidence in court that it came from a specific county, a specific drainage district, a specific farm, and what, a specific hog or fertilized cornstalk? The Raccoon River drains from a rather sprawling watershed; it's farfetched to think that all that is in it is the responsibility of three counties, let alone a few specific drainage lines.
This is not to say that we don't have issues with water quality; we do.
But a lawsuit does nothing to make a river cleaner. It might help make a few lawyers some cash, and cost taxpayers on both ends money and time that could be spent for better uses, but that doesn't fix pollution. Unless perhaps Des Moines would like rural Iowa to kindly stop raising livestock and crops (enjoy your $50 hamburger). I suppose they will have to sue nature for the amount of nitrates she puts naturally into water, too. Bad girl!
A lawsuit isn't going to do anything to heal the urban-rural rift that is the 500-pound gorilla in the room. In Iowa as probably everywhere, both sides distrust the other and are quick to blame the other for problems from social to environmental to economics. Truth is, there is enough blame to go around for all of us.
We have made some headway in protecting the water in rural Iowa; no doubt there is more to do. We can achieve it by constantly working on chemical control and best practices for farming, industry, even home yards.
But we make progress by coming to the table together to talk about our issues and our needs, not by bashing each other's brains in, in a courtroom. We will achieve more working together than we will working against each other. Legal action is the last recourse, not the first.
It's a grandstand move. One that isn't likely to achieve much, but one that could prove expensive in both dollars and division among Iowans. Think it out.
The New York Police "slowdown" is another example of people just not thinking things through.
Metro officers are miffed, probably with good reason, feeling betrayed by their mayor and fearing for their safety after the tragic assassination of two officers.
So, spurred on by union leaders, they declared a "slowdown" in which they would make no arrests unless they absolutely had to. Eighty percent of drug and alcohol incidents, traffic offenses and others went ignored, and overall, arrests declined by 66 percent.
The assumption probably was that people would feel threatened and freak out, so that any demands the cops have would have to be instantly granted.
The part they didn't consider is that a considerable percentage of the population is probably thrilled - to not get parking tickets or speeding violations, to not get arrested for public intox or urinating on a building after a tipsy weekend, and to not go to jail for smoking weed. If officers are looking for excuses not to bother enforcing the law, and putting their own interests ahead of that of their community, as instructed by the union, I imagine the heavyweight NYC criminals are all in favor too.
Again, it's not that change isn't needed. You could achieve it faster and better if police and administrators talked instead of spiting each other. Think it out.
One more. As I write this, President Obama is jetting out of Iowa (Air Force One cost $228,288 per hour).
This is the action account of the occasion, from the White House press corps: "At about 2:25, POTUS entered a garage at the Cedar Falls Utilities complex. There was a small table in the middle of the room where he watched the fiber optic splicing demonstration... 'What do we got here? What's going on?' the President said as he walked toward the table. Schilling explained that the community knew it needed to upgrade its broadband infrastructure. POTUS shook his head 'yes' throughout the conversation.
Then, the two men began the actual splicing process, which POTUS... watched intently. It lasted only a minute or so, and POTUS exclaimed 'Success!' when it was over.
How much expended to fly to and from D.C. for a one-minute demonstration of splicing an internet cable?
And, wouldn't it have been more appropriate, to have the session ON the internet? So everyone could see what do we got here? Thanks for coming, anyhow.
Think it out.