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What's the toughest job to do well in public service? The answer could be prison administration. Think of the "stakeholders" an administrator must satisfy: Taxpayers, who want offenders locked up. Lawmakers, whose re-election depends on public safety. Guards, with their own need for physical safety and security. Last but not least, inmates, who are the point of it all. They must be confined, but not brutalized; treated humanely, but not coddled.
"He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur. ..." So speaks Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.
The phrase is "Garbage in, garbage out," and it describes a process that has been known since the earliest days of computing. It highlights the fact that because computers are programmed to be purely logical calculators, feeding bad data into one guarantees that the computer's output will be bad as well. Of course, humans have the capacity of judgment, which generally lets us recognize bad data and reject it. Generally. But there are exceptions. And one of them showed up this week at The Washington Post.
"Jarndyce and Jarndyce drones on," Charles Dickens wrote in his novel, "Bleak House." "This scarecrow of a suit has, in course of time, become so complicated, that no man alive knows what it means. ...
So, the NCAA might—"might," as a UND spokesman re-emphasized—crack down on the university if an opposing team complained about Fighting Sioux cheers at UND games. What should UND do? In...
So, here's how Grand Forks and the UND Alumni Association and Foundation fared in the lineup of people who've been invited to join the UND presidential search committee, Mike Jacobs writes in his column on today's page: They got "skunked." That's a little strong; there are, of course, several Grand Forks residents who'll be on the committee, assuming the people who've been invited to join accept the invitations.
With its 25,000 job openings, should North Dakota give tuition breaks to out-of-state students to encourage them to study and work here? The answer is yes — if the proposals are targeted, fully evaluated and shown to be likely to succeed. Lawmakers shouldn't say yes to just any old idea that gets tossed around in Bismarck. But they also shouldn't reject ideas just because those ideas might involve creating or expanding a government program. For in fact, lots of government programs work.
Coal's prospects are affected by government penalties and subsidies, as documented by the columns on this page. These factors will hinder or speed up the industry's development, as time and politics change. And they also can have a big effect on the rates consumers pay for energy. Especially in North Dakota, as future columns and editorials will note. But make no mistake, the biggest driver of the coal industry's fate remains the same as it has always been: the market.
Good news: North Dakota lawmakers take the word "Legacy" in the state's Legacy Fund seriously. At a forum in Bismarck this week, legislative leaders agreed that the fund should be allowed to keep growing, thus letting North Dakotans pass it down as a very real legacy to residents in 2040 and beyond. But that's just the principal of the fund, into which oil-tax revenue now is flowing at a rate of $44 million a month.
Medical doctors aren't immune. In recent years, optometrists, physician assistants, physical therapists, nurse practitioners and others have gained high-level health care privileges, often over the physicians' objections. Dentists aren't immune. Minnesota, Maine and Alaska already let dental therapists fill cavities and pull teeth. Other states likely will follow. Military officers aren't immune. Years ago, only West Pointers and Naval Academy graduates could hope to reach the highest levels of their services.