March 21, 2008

Four For Friday

Q1 - Drinking & Fighting: Debate over lowering the national drinking age is heating up in several states, fueled in part by legislators who contend that men and women who are old enough to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan are responsible enough to buy alcohol legally. Legislation introduced in Kentucky, Wisconsin and South Carolina would lower the drinking age for military personnel only. A planned ballot initiative in Missouri would apply to everyone 18 and older. An initiative in the works in South Dakota would allow all 19- and 20-year-olds to buy low-alcohol beer. Earlier in the week, Presidential hopeful Barack Obama made headlines by telling an underage Army veteran in Connecticut that lowering the drinking age would not be something he would support under any circumstances. What do you think... if someone is old enough to enroll in the armed services and participate in acts of war, should they be also be allowed to drink alcohol even if they're underage?

Q2 - Gasoline & Taxes: A recent poll reveled that 48% of U.S. citizens are unwilling to spend even a penny more in gasoline taxes to help reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. According to the poll's sponsor--the National Center for Public Policy Research--18% of Americans are willing to pay 50 cents or more in additional taxes per gallon of gas to reduce greenhouse emissions, which is exactly what U.S. Representative John Dingell (D-MI), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, has called for--a 50 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax, used to motivate Americans to conserve fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for 33% of the U.S.'s man-made carbon dioxide emissions. Over 60% of these emissions--or about 20% of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions--result from burning gasoline in personal automobiles. What amount, if any, would you be willing to pay in gasoline taxes to help reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions?

Q3 - Email & Interruptions: If you use a desktop email program like Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Mail, etc., do you have it set to check for mail automatically or do you manually check for mail? If your primary email account is Web-based--like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo!, etc.--do you have a desktop "notifier" to alert you to new mail or do you check your account manually for evidence of new messages? In either case, do you think people would be more productive at work if email were only available upon manual checks (as opposed to it automatically showing up in an In box and potentially interrupting real work?

Q4 - Charity & Donations: When was the last time you made a charitable donation to an organization other than one with a religious affiliation? What's the name of the organization and do you think your donation eventually went to a worthy cause?

Posted by Mikal at March 21, 2008 7:45 AM | TrackBack


Q1: Nah. I think there are enough problems with alchohol already. Let's not make it any easier.

Q2: What! I thought I already was paying over .50 a gallon to prevent the release of toxic gas. Lying Democratic Republicans.... What they should do instead is raise taxes on vehicle manufacturers and buyers of high emission vehicles. The way I see it, the real reason we don't have more fuel economic vehicles is that there has not been enough financial incentive to drive that innovation yet.

Q3: I do use a client that checks my mail what?! How else am I supposed to find new business opportunities in Nigeria? How else will I find out that I have won the Afghanistan lottery? Tell me that Mr. Manual-checker.

Q4: Good question. Another good question. Only my accountant knows.

Posted by: Bryce at March 21, 2008 8:00 AM

Q1 - The maturity level between an 18 yr. old drunk and a 21 yr. old drunk is like night and day. Leave the current age limit in place. Anyways, it's not that hard for an 18 yr. old to get alcohol if they really want it.

Q2 - I absolutely agreed with the tax....although it would affect me personally in a BIG way. I put 500 miles a week on my car commuting to work and a .50/gallon tax would force me to use mass transit and my own legs more. Americans need to be more conscious of their transportation habits and hitting them in the pocket book is unfortunately the only way to get their attention.

Q3 - I run all my email accounts through Outlook which auto checks for new messages. If you have an employee who's productivity falls due to personal emails then I think you've hired the wrong employee to begin with.

Q4 - I donate to the Utah Good Samaritan Homeless Shelter each year prior to Thanksgiving. They use all proceeds to provide free Turkey Day dinners to anyone who shows up. Its a very worthy cause.

Posted by: Tyson at March 21, 2008 8:05 AM

I do not believe that they should be allowed to buy alcohol. It still changes your jugdement and being young, i dont think you are makeing the best jugdement calls when sober.

I dont know how much I am willing to pay. I think they should jusst take all the taxes being charged for gas and apply it the Greenhouse gas.

I thnk each oerson is different. For instance I have hard time stoping and checking my mail, but if it keeps populating by itself then I donthave to stop. So i like it to automatically check.

I dont know who the last organization was. I really dont donate that offten.

Posted by: Vin Diesel at March 21, 2008 8:13 AM

1 - Don't see how more alcohol will help anything

2 - We need some other means of energy outside of gas. There needs to be a paradigm shift from gas to something else to make a real difference. There is enough money in DC if they would stop unnecessary spending.

3 - I use iCal and Gmail. They auto get emails and I'm constantly answering them throughout the day.

4 - I donate to the special olympics, boy scouts of america, and every cute kid that asks me to buy something for their school, club, or sport.

Posted by: Blaine at March 21, 2008 8:29 AM

1. Drinking & Fighting: Absolutely not! Okay, let me get serious for a short moment here... I know very few people who are "responsible" drinkers (if there is even such a thing). I don't care how old you are, how smart you are, or what you've accomplished in your life... While there are some responsible teens out there, they are few and far between, so leave the law where it is.

And the whole argument about "being old enough to fight a war blah blah..." I don't buy. When you join the military, you are given a very specialized type of training. For those who haven't been through it, it doesn't include social responsibility. These people are trained to maintain discipline while under fire, which -- although much of the discipline they learn can and often does transfer to other parts of their lives -- actually has nothing to do with making a person more socially responsible or better able to judge whether they should drink or not.

2. Gasoline & Taxes: I'm not willing to pay any more (okay, maybe a penny). I'm willing to tax the billion-dollar oil companies though. About 80 years ago, electric cars were beating gas powered ones in races (I must thank my Valvoline Oil collectible racecar trading cards for that information!) Just imagine if we had focused our efforts on the development of electric cars for the last 80 years. We'd all be cruising around in flying cars, riding space elevators to the moon, and fighting over real estate on Jupiter's moons like the sci-fi novels of the time promised us!

3. Email & Interruptions: This one's a thinker! I have mine auto-check every 5 minutes. Partially because, as the manager of my department, I get a lot of last-minute urgent requests from various other departments so I need to know when those come in right away. However, the change of focus that is required definitely slows me down. But now that I think about it, I'd be way more productive if people in other departments were better organized and didn't send me so many last-minute requests!!!

4. Charity & Donations: Hmmm... I always add extra to my gas bill every month as a donation. Aside from that, was probably Sub for Santa or Toys for Tots, or the Salvation Army (would those have religious affiliations? Ah well.) I'm usually very particular about who and what I donate to, and honestly I'm not so sure Sub for Santa, Toys for Tots, or the Salvation Army are the best places to give my money to. I tend to gravitate toward charities that feed homeless children and provide them with services that will help them become productive members of society and, uh, not homeless. I also prefer donating to foundations founded by very wealthy people (or have some other financial backing via some business etc.) who fund the administrative costs so the full amount of my donation goes toward the cause.

I also like small organizations who can't save the world, but are trying to do their part locally.

Worthy causes? I sure hope so. I hate it when my money is wasted... so I guess I need to stop eating out so much. Doh! Hey, aren't I helping the Ronald McDonald House and McJobs program with every cheeseburger I eat? There ya go!

Posted by: Stu at March 21, 2008 8:34 AM

1. I think it would just create two dumb things instead of one. Kids fighting wars is pretty dumb but kids getting drunk more often just to make the idea of drinking younger equated to fighting in a war justified, seems like planting a punctuation on a mound of shit. Damn, hope that made sense. The draft is another matter, hope they don't bring that sucker back.
2. There is better sources of income than the taxpayer. Oil revenue these days is off the charts. I think the piper needs to be paid from those who can afford it.
3. I'm auto-email stimulated. Yeah I think my productivity would go up if I wasn't reminded. *note to Stu, disregard Tyson's post on this : )
4. I threw in 20 bucks for Public Radio - I get news from them I don't normally get so I guess it is worth it fer shur. I donate clothes and crap to Savers only to later buy other people's poopy things. It's circular dude - Karma?

Posted by: Aaron V at March 21, 2008 9:07 AM

1 - I have mixed feelings on this one. While an 18 year old is allowed to join the military and thus fight in a war, that doesn't necessarily make him (or her) responsible enough to drink and then handle the repercussions (but to think about it, is an 18 yo (or anyone of any age at that matter) really mature enough to deal with what they see in war). Maybe there should be legalized drinking for military personnel under 21 on military installations. That would give them the rights without endangering general populations. Hmm.

2 - I don't know. We as a country are starting to take care of the environment in a manner where it's going to start really hurting people who are not in a position to absorb all of the increases in costs for everyday living. (Bread prices are skyrocketting, egg prices have almost doubled in the past year, gas prices keep going up, milk is getting higer). There has to be a happy medium. Maybe the auto and gas industries should have to kick in more. Who knows.

3 - I'm lucky enough to not work in an office anymore. When I did, they didnt' have those auto-checkers. And there were always so many rumors of web-checkers (I worked for a tech co) plus I was so busy that I rarely checked my aol account during the day. I did get personal email at work, but limited. I guess this doesn't affect me. :)

4 - I tend to give to groups I know affect my community. The PTA, school, girl scouts(usually through purchases in fundraisers, for items which I would usually purchase for much less elsewhere, just to help the schools). I also give (often in donations of items needed rather than money) to Gilda's Club and have donated money to St Jude's Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House Charities. I know when my son was 5 weeks old and in the hospital, although it was only a small room with minor amenities, the RMH room in the local hospital was a respite from sitting in his hospital room.

Posted by: Marjorie at March 21, 2008 10:17 AM

1. No. Leave the legal drinking age at 21, why cause more problems? Kids under 21 are going to find a way to buy alcohol. I understand that 18 year olds who fight a war are involved in a dangerous situation, but that doesn't mean once they are off the battlefield that they will be more responsible or deserve the right to buy alcohol.

2. Please, we pay enough now for gas and all other taxes, do we really need an increase? Also, maybe automobile manufacturers should quit producing SUVs that guzzle all that gas. If they didn't make them, people couldn't buy them, and I bet it would help with the pollution problem. There was another time in this country when there was a gas "crisis" and car manufacturers started making smaller cars. It can be done, but will it? We also just need an affordable alterantive to gasoline to fuel our cars.

3. I manually check my email. My home computer is not always on, nor am I always using it when I am home, so I wouldn't know if any new email arrived in my inbox even if I had an automatic notifier. Also, I don't think it makes a difference at work how you check your messages, people will still take time away from work to read and send email.

4. I don't recall (so it must have been a while). If I did donate, it would be to an organization that helps the poorest of the poor.

Posted by: Vera at March 21, 2008 11:46 AM

Q1 Drinking when you're in war should not only be allowed, it should be mandatory. Moreover, we should encourage drinking with the enemy. Let's beat our weapons into shot glasses and toast to peace! But seriously, this is a tough question. In some ways, I think the current laws glamorize drinking and actually encourage our youth to want to drink. However, giving access to alcohol to 18-year-olds will give access to a much younger crowd - their 14, 15, and 16 year-old-friends. Overall, I say we stick with the 21 limit and decriminalize it for anyone as young as 18 who gets caught drinking.

Q2 - I would not be willing to pay one cent more for several reasons. First, I think the role human's play in global warming has never been proven. Second, I would be willing to pay fifty cents more in gas tax to conserve oil IF I thought the government would use the money wisely - to develop alternative fuels. However, the more you give the government, the more it seems to squander.

Q3 - I use Outlook Express and have it set up to automatically check for e-mail, but I still check manually from time to time. The effect on productivity of having to check your email manually would depend greatly on the person's habits and obsessions. I can see it either increasing or decreasing someone's productivity. I believe it would decrease mine.

Q4 - Maybe six months ago to Purdue. We've been strapped for cash lately, so we haven't given as much over the past three years as we used to give. I believe in investing in education, because it can help solve all the other problems.

Posted by: Joe at March 22, 2008 5:00 AM

1- I'd say keep it 21, that limit hasn't ever stopped younger people from drinking, and changing the limit will just make it easier for younger people to participate. I don't really by the whole war=drinking arguement, but then I've never been strongly interested in alcohol or being in the military.

2- WTF!!! I thought the government was supposed to be for the people. Its the record profit oil companies that should get to pay that tax, cause for the average american there's a huge dependancy on transportation. Excepting for some of our larger cities (and I really don't know too much about them) we really don't have any kind of strong infrastructure of public transit. If the government really wants citizens to be more ecologically friendly, then make the incentives positive ones. I'd love to by a hybrid car, but until I can do that for the same price I buy a regular unleaded vehicle, even a 50 cent per gallon increase isn't really going to change a lot of my driving habits.

3- Outlook grabs stuff every 15 minutes, but I tend to find myself having to shift focus at least that often anyway on most days.

4- I buy those Childrens Miracle Network from time to time. Its probably been a few months since that last time.

Posted by: Greg at March 25, 2008 7:17 AM

Drinking Age: Leave it where it is. Alcohol rarely has the effect of making anyone smarter, wiser, more compassionate, more physically coordinated.

Gas Tax: I would only support an increase in gas tax if the fed government also taxed (or otherwise financially incentivized) automakers into making more efficient cars the standard -- the technology already exists, they're just too cheap to use it. Global warming and our dependence of oil are real problems. The government was created for the common good, and individuals alone aren't going to force adaptation to these problems.

Email Checking: I do think most people would be more "work" productive if they were not interrupted by email -- but I also think that interruption has become habit now so unless internet access was also ceased it wouldn't really matter.

Donations: The vast majority of our donations are to non-religious organizations. We do donate to our church every month, but last year we spent twice that amount on monetary donations to Heiffer International, Save Darfur, United Christmas Service, NRDC, etc. We also try to donate our time (tho those are usually thru our church), and we donate goods to AmVets, Goodwill, and Salvation Army all regularly.

Posted by: Ami at March 27, 2008 5:32 AM

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