Editorial Roundup - Jan. 4, 2013

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The Staten Island (N.Y.) Advance on the National Rifle Association and the gun industry (Dec. 31) — The National Rifle Association claims putting guns in the hands of more people is the way to deal with mass shootings in America. It says only good guys with guns can stop bad guys with guns.
Such was the shameful response of the NRA, one of the nation’s most powerful political lobbying groups, to the Dec. 14 slaughter of 20 first graders and six adults in Newtown, Conn.
Instead of calling for stricter gun laws, it wants armed police, guards or teachers to patrol every school in the nation, while citizens freely carry high-tech firearms on the streets.
Another deranged suicide shooter with the same kind of assault rifle used in the school massacre killed two firefighters responding to a blaze he set to lure them on Dec. 24 near Rochester, N.Y.
Most Americans are saying enough is enough. But not the NRA.
There is a good reason for the group to cling to its reckless and hardcore stance in favor of weaponry. Beyond the 4 million members it represents — hunters, sports shooters and collectors — the National Rifle Association guards the interests of firearms merchants.
The quarter-billion-dollar-a-year lobby is a lock, stock and barrel partner of the $12 billion-a-year gun industry. Plain and simple, gun manufacturers pay the NRA to watch their back, and the NRA does it obediently. ...
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said last week that guns are only tools. Yes, and assault weapons are tools designed to kill as many people as possible in a short period of time. That is their only use.
So don’t expect the NRA to buy into President Obama’s effort to revive the ban on assault weapons or his call for the registration of firearm sales between private parties. They’ll oppose it any way they can, including by blaming everything from video games to Hollywood to the press for these assault-weapon-driven massacres that occur with alarming frequency in our nation.
According to surveys, most rank-and-file members of the NRA (like a majority of Americans) would be willing to support common-sense restrictions on guns.
But the leaders of the National Rifle Association will never go along with that. They know their own fate is tied to the profits of gun merchants. As long as the firearms industry thrives, so will they.

The Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune on diverting water from the Missouri River (Dec. 27) — For years, upriver and downriver interests have argued over use of Missouri River water. Now a third option looms that could confound the issue further: diversion of water to parched Western states by way of a pipeline.
As a general proposition, the idea makes sense, allocating the nation’s water supply to most advantageous uses. In the Great Flood of 1993, millions of gallons surging beyond the banks of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers could have been relocated to huge storage basins in the West with benefit to both areas. In normal times, when plenty of water fills the Missouri, nobody would object to diversion through a treatment plant and pipeline headed west.
Of course, it’s not that simple. The proposed pipeline would cost $11.2 billion and take 30 years to build, but for such a basic improvement in the nation’s infrastructure, cost should not be a stopper. Water supply could be the most important natural resource issue in coming years.
... A pipeline sending treated water to the West sounds like a good idea, but don’t count on hearing the pumps anytime soon. The more desperate the situation becomes out West, the more serious the discussion will become.

Victoria (Texas) Advocate on texting behind the wheel (Dec. 30) — ... Distracted driving accounted for 100,000 crashes in Texas in 2009. That number is a frightening statistic. Every day, millions of drivers take to the streets in their vehicles going to and from work, the grocery store or any number of destinations. With so many people zipping back and forth along Texas’ roads and highways, it is imperative that drivers take the extra effort to pay attention at all times. Just a moment of distraction could be all it takes to spark a horrendous wreck.
... We often hope people will have enough common sense to know when they are being distracted and pull over to tend to their phones. But common sense seems to be in short supply in today’s world, so unfortunately, the law must step up to protect people on Texas’ roadways.

The Indianapolis Star on transparency in job counts (Dec. 28) — When the Indiana General Assembly convenes in a few days, it should put on a fast track legislation that would make the Indiana Economic Development Corp.’s deal-making with private businesses far more transparent.
The bill, introduced by state Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, would require companies that receive tax incentives to report how many jobs they actually create each year. The public would have access to that information under open-records laws.
As it stands, the IEDC, which was created in 2005 to replace the Department of Commerce, operates as a quasi-government agency with the authority to make deals that include tax breaks and other public-financed incentives. But it’s also exempted by law from having to disclose important details surrounding those deals based on the argument that sharing such information with the public might hinder the state’s ability to attract new businesses.
That’s not an illegitimate concern in a state that desperately needs to diversify its economic base and to attract better-paying jobs. Yet, transparency in government — and with it accountability — shouldn’t be pushed aside easily.
And legitimate questions have been raised from multiple sources about just how many jobs have actually been created — rather than merely promised — through the work of the IEDC.
... Yes, Indiana needs more jobs, and better jobs. But there’s no good reason to believe that job creation can’t occur in concert with transparency and accountability.

The Oakland (Mich.) Press on beer and wine tasting in supermarkets (Dec. 31) — If we want a glass of beer or wine away from home, we head for a bar or a restaurant. But a supermarket?
Hiller’s Market, with stores in Wash-tenaw, Wayne and Oakland counties, expects to open a new store in Lyon Township in Oakland’s southwestern corner in the spring, with a space for imbibing. The township’s board of trustees has approved a tavern license.
We can imagine a joke or two, maybe imagining shopping cart collisions in the store and parking lot. But the tavern license was approved with a designated tasting area in mind, although imbibing may not be limited to tasting. The chain’s attorney, John Carlin, said it’s a new trend in upscale markets “where you can sit down and eat a meal and have a glass of beer or wine.”
The township’s downtown development authority director, Michelle Aniol, believes it’s unique in the region.
Township officials also approved package beer and wine licenses for the store.
A dining area at a supermarket which sells prepared food isn’t new: We’ve seen them in stores from Whole Foods to Meijers.
But adding alcoholic beverages?
We wonder if the concept might grow. If the beverages weren’t required to be confined in a certain part of the store, wouldn’t a glass of wine be a gracious addition to the women’s clothing area of an upscale department store? That could increase sales, perhaps the more so if it included seating for bored spouses. A beer to sip while pushing the cart through a big-box home improvement store?
... It may increase sales. But we hope it doesn’t spread to some of those stores we were kidding about. Things might get messy.