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It's Election Day, So Who Do I Blame?

by on November 06, 2018 5:00 AM

Here we are on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Is there anything important going on today?

That’s right, I almost forgot – it’s Election Day. Although you might ask, how could I possibly “almost forget?” With campaign signs posted along every road and in every neighborhood, pop-up ads vying for your eyeballs on every webpage, and your senses being assaulted from every television, radio and newspaper, it seems absurd to expect that anyone could possibly forget today is Election Day.

So, no, I didn’t really almost forget.

Like many of my friends and neighbors I’ll spend a few moments today in a voting booth here in Happy Valley casting my ballot. And I’ll be casting that ballot while considering three recent experiences I’ve had with our government.

Last week our company’s third-quarter 2018 reports were due to the federal, state and local governments. That would be our Form 941, UC-2, PA W-3, Form 940, Local EIT and Local LST forms for the uninitiated. Sounds like a mouthful, right? All these reports remind you how much of your money you’re giving to someone else to keep you safe and in general good welfare. Assuming of course, that you feel safe and in general good welfare.

Also last week we received our annual letter from telling us about our family insurance rates for 2019. It turns out the rate for our family health insurance plan will be increasing just a bit – from $1,917.83 per month to $2,920.42 per month. Just a minor $1,002.59 increase. Imagine if the cost of your food suddenly went up 52 percent from one month to the next.

Then just three days ago we were driving with another couple to Erie to watch both our sons play in the PIAA subregional soccer game (State High beat Erie McDowell 2-0 and plays Norwin tonight – at BEA – in the first round of the PIAA Tournament. Come out and cheer them on!). As is common for Happy Valley folks trekking to Erie, we drove west on Interstate 80 and then north on Interstate 79.  Not long after merging on to I-79 we approached the rest area past mile marker 134 and encountered a lot of flashing lights and a few stopped vehicles.

But how could it be so? Our trusty mapping app showed nothing but beautiful blue lines and clear sailing ahead. No orange, yellow, red or black lines to be seen clogging up the freeway.

Well, it was a caravan of state police SUVs, numerous “Oversize Load” escort trucks, and two huge trailers that were so large there were separate trucks in the front and back of each trailer to make sure the trailers could negotiate curves.

Unluckily for us, this caravan was entering the highway from the rest area and our timing was perfect. Perfectly bad. We soon became the first vehicle in line behind it and found ourselves going a leisurely 45 miles per hour – on a highway with a 70 miles per hour speed limit.

For the first few miles it was somewhat interesting – you felt as if you were in a NASCAR race following the pace car during a yellow flag as two rows of vehicles lined up behind you. I even tried weaving back and forth a bit to “keep the tires warm” but it was suggested the police officer immediately in front of us might not find that so amusing.

As we quickly went through the denial and anger stages of grief we moved directly to the bargaining stage and began wondering how long this convoy was going to stay on the road. We were positive it would get off at Meadville.


Then of course they would exit at the rest area at mile marker 163 and give the miles-long backup that had formed behind it the opportunity to pass and get back to traveling merrily along. Thirty miles of slow driving can create quite a queue of frustrated citizens.

Nope, sorry.

Well, certainly they will be getting off at Edinboro as there must be some construction taking place at the university which required trailer loads that large.

Again, no.

There were only two options left at that point. Either this slow-moving fleet of road-blocking trucks was going to drop itself onto Interstate 90 and cause even more driving grief to northwest Pennsylvanians, or they were going all the way to the Port of Erie. Coincidentally, that would be the exit just a quarter-mile past where we would exit I-79.

At that point we stopped bargaining, quickly moved through depression, and went straight to acceptance. As we saw the lead truck off in the distance drive past the exits for I-90 our fate was sealed. We were destined to spend 50 miles watching the back of a state police Ford Explorer SUV while occasionally doing “two-counts” to make sure we weren’t following too closely.

Luckily we were in the company of good friends, had left early enough that there was plenty of flex-time in our schedule so we would not be late, and got a laugh or two out of the whole experience (although we really would like to know what was so huge and mission-critical that it required an escort so large it would inconvenience thousands).

Which brings me back to the voting.

If I want to assign blame for these three major foibles of government I encountered in the past week, on whom do I foist it? Reports, reports and more reports. A health care system run amok, amok, amok. Transportation woes. Which elected politician deserves to be hoisted by his own petard and denied re-election for this mess?

Ay, there’s the rub. I have not a clue.

And so I shall enter the voting booth today, having educated myself as best as I can about the stances of the candidates, mark my ballot and slide it into the counting machine, and hope that whoever gets elected can somehow fix the impossible.

Best wishes to all the candidates.s


John Hook is the president of The Hook Group, a local management consulting firm, and active in several nonprofit organizations. Previously John spent 25 years in executive, management and marketing positions with regional and national firms. John lives in Ferguson Township with his wife Jackie and their two children.
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