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« Lions for Lambs: Reflecting on Sixty Years of Lying Our Way into Wars | Main | Mr Berg, We Can Appreciate Veterans By Opposing Militarism »

November 14, 2007

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Ron Legro

Don't forget the 1994 case in Milwaukee in which an 18-wheel truck threw a part, igniting a family van carrying six children, killing them. It turned out the truck had safety violations and the driver has a suspect license. That in turn led to an investigation that brought down Illinois Gov. George Ryan. The prosecution proved that under the Ryan administration's direction and Ryan's own knowledge, state employees were exchanging truck driving licenses for bribes and campaign contributions from trucking companies and truck driving schools.

It isn't just that there aren't enough inspectors and regulators; it's that the political bosses who underfund them are also sometimes benefitting criminally.

Anonymous

Didn't we just start something new that allows Mexican trucks and drivers into the counrty without regulation? Seems to me that the problem will be getting worse before better.

buckyblue

This is the exact difference between a liberal and a conservative (not using Dem or Repub because those terms don't really apply anymore). Milton Friedman free market conservatives would say get the govt out of inspecting the trucks all together. Let the market decide if they want to have these trucks ship product. Disgusting. In the mean time I've got a local housing inspector all over me for some walls I put up in my basement. How does that work? He's doing his job, of course, but it would be nice if others at different levels of govt. would take their job as seriously.

Hot Fuzz

Mayor Soglin,

Although I disagree in part with your post, I'll use this space to comment on your grammar rather than the substance of your writing (you have already hinted at what would have been my criticism -- that Mother Government can't prevent all accidents -- when you quickly acknowledged that "government spending will [not] eliminate all accidental deaths").

I am writing to quibble with your use of "which" when you wrote "Inadequate staffing and laboratories which lessen the effectiveness of the FDA and don't keep dangerous drugs off the market." Perhaps you simply left out a comma before "which," but I'll assume (for sake of argument) that you, like many lawyers before and after you, confuse the use of "that" and "which."

Although your use of "that" or "which" (or your failure to include a comma before the non-restrictive clause beginning with "which") is not fatal in this case, it often matters when others are trying to interpret your writing (see example below). So, in the interest of saving space in this post, I'll provide a few links below to websites that are probably better at explaining the correct use of "that" and "which" than I will ever be.

http://www.kentlaw.edu/academics/lrw/grinker/LwtaThat_Versus_Which.htm (I do, however, disagree with example 3, which includes a misplaced modified that suggests that the speaker and another person purchased the foyer in 1929 for $10,000, not the Van Gogh.) See the main page, too; it is a great writing resource: http://www.kentlaw.edu/academics/lrw/grinker/.
(Other resources: http://web.bsu.edu/ldemo/bettaknow/that_which.html; http://web.ku.edu/~edit/which.html -- click on the "Take the challenge" link for a good illustration of this issue; http://www.getitwriteonline.com/archive/103103.htm).

Okay, so I realize that there are differing viewpoints on the that/which debate (http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/which.html, http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/t.html#that; http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2006/04/23/that_which_does_not_kill_us/). But you'll notice that both contrarians are able to discuss the rule without any difficulty.

However, I'll use an example to shoot down this minority viewpoint. Jack says, pointing to a car lot, "The cars which are red are appealling to me." What does Jack mean? Does he mean that the lot is filled with only red cars and that all the cars are appealing to him? Or is he referring only to a group of red cars in the lot, which happen to be surrounded by cars of other colors? I think you could interpret the comment both ways.

Know how to avoid a possible misinterpretation? If Jack is referring only to some of the cars in the lot (the cars that are red): "The cars that are red are appealling to me." (restrictive clause). If Jack is referring to all the cars (all of which are red): "The cars, which are red, are appealling to me." (non-restrictive clause).

Somewhat final thought: Why is it that lawyers, seemingly more often than persons working in other professions, insist on using "which" where many grammarians insist that "that" belongs?

Final thought: I am a libertarian who often votes Republican, but I'm no strong believer in original intent. Why is it then, that the grammarians who reject the "that/which" rule always discuss the allegedly false origin of the rule? Is our beautiful but confusing language inevitably bound to the rules of dead men (and women) and dead languages?

Billiam

As a professional driver of 18 years with a damn good safety record, let me explain a few things to you. There is quite a bit of regulation and oversite in trucking. As for the truck, it was the company's responsibility to make sure the truck was safe before it left the yard. Once on the road, it's the DRIVER who's in charge. Under Federal Regulations, drivers are required to do a pre-trip inspection before we leave on a run, and before we drive after coming off a 10 hour break. We also do a walk around(or should) at the shipper and reciever, to make sure nothing has happened while in transit. On the list of things we are to inspect are the rims, looking for loose lug nuts or cracks. I'd be willing to bet this driver did NONE of this. Also, any driver worth a crap checks his mirrors every 6 to 8 seconds while driving. You can see your drive and trailer tires from the mirrors. There's no way someone could have missed a tire wobbling bad enough to rate a 911 call. Unless he wasn't looking. Now, Wisconsin has a number of weigh stations, and every driver with more than 2 or 3 years experience running in this state knows where they are and generally when they open. Why aren't they open more? That costs money. Before you blame the right, remember it was Doyle who took 300 million out of the transportation fund last year. Ultimately, the blame rests with the DRIVER, not government.

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