Are we turning into a city of morons?

Originally Published on, 9/21/2007 8:57:29 AM

A decade or so ago, when the Reasonable Reporter was stationed on the planet San Francisco, a vigorous debate took  place one evening in the Mission district over whether to install at certain intersections a device that would cause the crosswalks to light up, thus guiding pedestrians to the safest possible passage from one corner to another.

This, mind you, in a neighborhood where the local devotees of militant Hamas are headquartered about three blocks south of the primary corner marking the territory of the notorious MS-13 gang, and 40 percent of the city’s parolees and probationers are housed. The eye of the public safety storm, as it were, where hundreds of potentially lethal permutations never produced the level of fervor evident on this night, in this discussion of the challenges related to crossing the street safely.

At some point, a young woman piped up from the back of the room.  She was tentative, as are most ordinary citizens about to make a comment that clearly goes against the grain.

“I guess I just have to ask,”  she said.  “Are we turning into a city of morons?”  Only someone who has logged hours and hours in public meetings can fully appreciate the secret delight stirred by this inquiry.

The moment came back with full force this weekend, as the Reasonable Reporter took a spin through the Reno Tahoe International airport, which boasts some newly-installed devices that cause the stop signs to light up. A red octagon is apparently no longer sufficient inducement for the average moron to hit the brakes. Even though the color and shape of the sign is universally understood to mean “stop,” even though it’s exclusive to this particular traffic command, and even though failure to obey costs big money and points on the driving record.

Red lights now flash around the perimeters of the signs.  And they are powered by small solar panels, don’t you know, poking west and heavenward from each octagon. So if we are a city of morons — and nobody’s saying we are — we are at least energy-efficient morons.
Look in the dictionary under “unintended consequences.”

Reno Realtor Diane Cohn laments on her blog the impending effect of Nevada AB 440, beginning on October first. The law will make it virtually impossible for the self-employed to get something called a “stated income loan” at refi time. This, coinciding with a period when large numbers of adjustables in Nevada will be ripe for refi.

The intent of the legislation was consumer protection, but the language of the law will stifle lending to some very qualified buyers. AP’s Brendan Riley covered it a few weeks back.

It’s also worth contemplating the application of static rules to moving markets.  A law passed in May,  using information from previous quarters, applies to the market in October.  Head scratching time.

See the bleaker thoughts of realtors and lenders, who are about to live it.

(  scroll down to the 9/17 posting, “About Last Week.” Paragraph 10.)

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