Darts and laurels

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 9, 2011

Laurels to Walmart for giving shoppers a bit of a break by bringing back its layaway option, which it phased out five years ago. Customers had urged Walmart to restore the payment plan that lets shoppers make periodic payments for items such as toys or electronics and pick them up when theyíre paid in full. But popular demand isnít the only reason Walmart is reviving the plan; it also hopes to revive sagging sales heading into the holiday season. In the age of online shopping and anonymous transactions, the layaway plan harkens back to an earlier era when customer service had more of a personal touch ó and shoppers couldnít simply pull out the plastic to make Christmas purchases theyíd still be paying for in the middle of July.

Dart to the nearly 3,000 motorists across North Carolina arrested for driving while impaired during the Labor Day weekend. Officials said the arrests proved the effectiveness of the ěBooze It and Lose Itî law-enforcement campaign, which uses stepped-up patrols and highway checkpoints to check for drunk drivers. But the high number ó down only slightly from the 3,200 arrested for DWI over Labor Day weekend last year ó also proves that far too many people continue to climb behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol. That justifies more punitive DWI measures such as those included in ěLauraís Law,î passed this year by the state legislature.

Laurels to … career politicians? In an insightful column in the Washington Post, Ruth Marcus muses about the current tendency to dismiss ěcareer politiciansî as being less worthy to lead than neophytes. ěThe marvelous paradox of politics is that it is the only field in which lack of experience is considered a job qualification,î she writes. Yet in politics, as in practically any other endeavor, experience counts, especially when it comes to managing state and federal governments in a time of intense polarization. ěWanting to do the right thing doesnít matter if you donít know how to get it done,î Marcus says. ěThe political short-timer has little interest in forging relationships or building the coalitions necessary for productive compromise. The reviled ëcareer politicianí may have been around long enough to see this play before. The more complicated the issues, from health care to defense spending, the more valuable the institutional knowledge.î