Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:
Winston-Salem Journal on state toll roads:
While prospects for operation of more North Carolina toll roads are rightly dimming, the N.C. Department of Transportation is about to waste another $1.6 million assessing the economic impact of tolls on Interstate 95.
DOT should forget that idea. Paying for the $4.4 billion upgrading of the major north-south route through Eastern North Carolina with tolls won't work and has very little political support.
North Carolina now has only one toll road, an expressway that skirts around Raleigh to the south. But five other toll projects under DOT development — including I-95 — face enormous hurdles in either the courts or the Republican-dominated General Assembly, according to an assessment by The News and Observer.
The Journal editorial board has repeated its arguments against toll roads many times, but our primary opposition lies in the unfairness of double taxation. When motorists pay tolls on the Triangle Expressway, they are paying their second tax for driving on a state road. First they paid their gas tax, then the toll. Motorists on every other road in the state pay only once.
Maybe nowhere in the state is the idea of double taxation more unfair than on I-95, which cuts through the state's poorest region. Workers who must use I-95 to get to work would be hit with big tolls, and many of those jobs don't pay all that well in the first place. DOT has ideas for reducing the tolls on commuters, but those ideas don't solve the problem.
The unfairness extends to businesses, too. Those in the eastern corridor would have to pay tolls for their deliveries and transports while those in other parts of the state would not. That's not a recipe for bringing economic development to a wide swath of the state that desperately needs it.
In announcing the study, DOT said it wanted to get a better idea of how tolls would impact business. We can save the state right here with the obvious answer: Tolls would hurt.
DOT should save the $1.6 million and drop this whole notion of toll roads, too.
The Herald-Sun of Durham on electronics recycling:
Just as we were getting used to ATMs that can read your check and tell you how much your deposit is worth, along comes something a lot fancier.
EcoATM is from a California company. It offers kiosks that allow users to deposit their old cellphones and MP3 players, and recycle them in exchange for cash. Sixteen EcoATM kiosks are planned for North Carolina in an expansion...
The expanded offerings of the EcoATMs are the result of the new release of the iPhone 5. The company is hoping to capitalize on a number of iPhone fans upgrading to the new model and recycling the old ones.
Once a user deposits a device into the kiosk, the EcoATM has the ability to evaluate the item and offer cash or even make a charitable donation. The user then has the option of accepting or refusing the offer.
Sounds pretty cool.
The constant upgrading of personal tech devices may appeal to some (not just early adopters, but also, it almost goes without saying, the technology companies that make so much money off of this behavior), and it certainly generates a great deal of economic activity. But it is appears nonsensical at times. How much of a true upgrade, really, is the iPhone 5 over the 4 or 4S?
The ability to recycle these devices makes this constant churn of upgrading a bit more palatable. And the number of companies offering such recycling is growing. Not only to wireless service providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint offer trade-in programs, but a number of public and private options are available, too. Some offer a bit of cash in exchange for devices, depending on what they are. Others make it work by greater volume, through business-to-business deals.
The Consumer Electronics Association offers resources for those looking to recycle (see www.greenergadgets.org). Recycling devices prevents potentially hazardous materials from being disposed of in landfills, can provide needed electronics for people who will benefit from them, and generate business for companies providing this environmentally friendly service. It's a good thing all the way around.
The News & Observer of Raleigh on N.C. Guard members killed in Afghanistan:
The National Guard has been known as largely a domestic force, working in humanitarian efforts and emergency assistance stateside, but Sept. 11, 2001, changed all that. Now Guard members serve everywhere with regular troops, enduring all the hardships and the dangers.
That was the case with three N.C. Guard members who died recently in Khost, Afghanistan, when they and 16 others (at least, at last count) were victims of a suicide bomb. The three North Carolinians were all sergeants, all members of the military police, and their names were Donna R. Johnson of Raeford, Jeremy F. Hardison of Browns Summit and Thomas J. Butler IV of Leland. They were members of the 514th Military Police Company based in Winterville.
We should know their names, appreciate their service and grieve with their families, as we do with those of all military personnel who make the ultimate sacrifice in uniform, whether as a "citizen solider" or a regular one. They lived and worked among us and were willing to put civilian lives on hold to serve.