Category Archives: U.S. Congress

Time for a new ‘ism’ – ‘future generationism’

By Steve Brawner

Are you the type whose beliefs don’t always fit neatly into a conservative or liberal label, but “moderate” sounds too mushy and none of the other “isms” fit?

Or what if one of those labels does fit, but you’re worried about the overall state of American politics, where it’s all about today’s winners and losers? Meanwhile, negative consequences are passed down to our children and grandchildren whenever possible because, hey, they don’t vote.

If any of that describes you, may I suggest calling yourself a “future generationist”? Continue reading Time for a new ‘ism’ – ‘future generationism’

Here’s Arkansas Week for Sept. 15, 2017

Here’s the latest Arkansas Week, the public affairs show that airs on AETN. Hosted by Steve Barnes, this week’s guests were UA journalism professor emeritus Dr. Hoyt Purvis, attorney and columnist Autumn Tolbert, and yours truly. Topics were President Trump and DACA (how could it not be?), the state’s uninsured rate (now below the national average), and Rep. Steve Womack’s potential chairmanship of the House Budget Committee.

How to be fearless on fourth down

By Steve Brawner

After the Arkansas Razorbacks’ field goal kicker – a college kid, let’s please remember – missed two chip shot field goals against TCU Saturday, Coach Bret Bielema said, “We’ll go for it every time, or we have to find a new kicker.”

If the first option is the case, the Hogs wouldn’t be plowing new ground. At Pulaski Academy high school in Little Rock, they’ve been going for it every time on fourth down – regardless of field position – for years, and won six state championships.

Head Coach Kevin Kelley created his unorthodox style after reading books about human nature and mathematics and deciding that the rewards of having four downs to make 10 yards outweighed the risks of not punting. That same analysis led him to try an onside kick on most kickoffs, giving his team a chance to recover the ball, rather than kicking it downfield.

Kelley doesn’t even punt when backed against his own end zone, where failure means giving the other team the ball yards from a touchdown. His analysis of college teams found a punt from that position would give the other team great field position that would likely lead to a touchdown anyway, so you might as well try to keep the ball.

Kelley’s style and success have made him somewhat famous in the sports world. Pulaski Academy is a nationally known program whose game with Louisiana’s Parkway High School was televised on ESPNU Sept. 15.

You’d think other coaches would want to copy him, and they do listen to him. But coaching is a risk-averse profession with limited job security. One coach told him he could be fired if a fourth down attempt in his own territory failed and he lost the game, whereas his job is safe if he loses that same game playing conventionally. Continue reading How to be fearless on fourth down

When Uncle Sam stops being Uncle Sugar Daddy

Bennett, infrastructure, highways
Scott Bennett is director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

By Steve Brawner

President Trump has talked about spending up to $1 trillion on highways and other infrastructure projects, but most of what would be spent in Arkansas wouldn’t come from Uncle Sam.

Instead, it would be up to Scott Bennett, and others like him, to find the money elsewhere – mostly from Arkansas taxpayers and drivers.

Bennett, director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, met at the White House Aug. 31 with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, and other state transportation directors.

“One of their guiding principles is leveraging private investment. … They’re looking for $200 million projects where you put together all the state, local and private investment you can, and you’re still $20 million short. Those are the projects that they want to fund,” Bennett said.

“Devolution” and public-private partnerships

The idea of pushing projects down to the state level is known as “devolution,” and it’s something Republicans talk about, though sometimes quietly. “Public-private partnerships,” where private companies perform traditionally public services, is also a trendy idea sometimes embraced by both parties. Toll roads are often operated by private companies, and so are prisons. Continue reading When Uncle Sam stops being Uncle Sugar Daddy