Darrell Berkheimer: So much on my mind | TheUnion.com

Darrell Berkheimer: So much on my mind

Quite often columnists have a number of topic ideas floating around in their minds before they sit down to write. And then we feel we need to pick one that we can flesh out with added details to turn it into a full column.

But sometimes we just can’t seem to pick that one subject on which we’re ready to write a full and appropriate commentary. And this past week was one of those times — when I felt my first-choice subjects needed more details from a bit more research and thought. So it became time to use a Berky’s Briefs column.

Rioters face felonies

Did you notice that the FBI has taken a large group of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrectionists before a federal grand jury, where they’ve been charged with one or more felonies in addition to lesser charges.

Writer Ryan Reilly reported in a Huffpost Politics story that the rioters’ “online bragging, disclosures during FBI interviews and searches of their property after their arrests” gave prosecutors what they needed to secure felony indictments.

So I’ve been wondering how many of those macho militia guys realize that a felony conviction takes away their right to own guns. They might flout that law and still have guns, but at least that should keep them from strutting around in public with automatic firearms.

Super Bowl analogy

A writer for The Deseret News in Salt Lake City has noted that many Democrats mistakenly “view Trump voters as a unique species separate from other Americans.” But Scott Rasmussen cites how fans rooting for a Super Bowl team can provide a better understanding of those who voted for Trump.

He reported a survey revealed the Trump coalition is both “ideologically and demographically diverse” — in a similar fashion with the way the fans were divided in the matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs. He observed only a small portion were intense supporters, while others who selected a favorite had little emotional stake in the outcome simply because those fans began the NFL season rooting for one of the other 30 teams.

His point is that it’s the same with politics.

While President Joe Biden won 81 million votes, “only a small portion of those voters had been rooting for Biden at the beginning of the year,” while others wanted Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg or someone else.

And the same thing occurred in 2016, when most “who voted for President Trump began the year supporting some other Republican candidate,” he said.

“The problem,” he concluded, “is that many people look at the act of voting for the former president as embracing everything about him without reservation. That’s as absurd as assuming those who voted for President Joe Biden embrace him without reservation.”

Money-grubbing emails

I suspect most readers are inundated weekly, and maybe daily, with various polls and surveys about political issues and politicians — and all of them ending with requests for money. I finally got angry enough to send a response to one of them before deleting it. My response probably will never be read and, if so, likely will be ignored. I wrote:

“If you ask for my opinions without asking for money, then you’ll get my opinions.

“But you belittle a person’s opinions when you reveal you are more interested in money than the opinions,” I added.

And finally, I observed that many of “the multiple-choice questions are slanted so that almost anyone can predict what the answers will be. A bit of space, with a word limit, should be provided for respondents to reply in their own words,” I concluded.

Excellent editorial

I thought the Union Editorial Board’s comments in last Saturday’s edition on the Nevada City Broad Street fire were right on target. That excellent editorial indicates how problems will occur when rules or procedures are written without providing for discretionary decisions.

It’s an example of the common, bureaucratic red tape problem that occurs when Pareto’s principle is ignored. It’s the 80-20 rule — when 80% of the consequences come from 20% of the causes.

That principle applies to rules and procedures. Usually, they can be written to apply to 80% of the foreseeable problems and issues that frequently occur, but 20% will involve unanticipated and unusual circumstances. To deal with that other 20%, front-line workers, who meet directly with the public, should be trained in discretionary decision-making.

That’s how bureaucracies can keep many small problems from either growing into a big one or, at minimum, wasting some of management’s time on minor issues.

And the Nevada City Planning Commission scenario reminded me of a sarcastic, but appropriate, remark by a composing room foreman at one of the newspapers where I worked. I’ve repeated his comment a multitude of times since then. He said, “We can’t let progress get in the way of procedures.”

Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He has eight books available through Amazon. His sixth, Essays from The Golden Throne, includes 60 columns published by The Union, plus a dozen western travel and photo essays. Contact him at mtmrnut@yahoo.com.

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