Anton Community Newspapers  •  132 East 2nd Street  •  Mineola, NY 11501  •  Phone: 516-747-8282  •  FAX: 516-742-5867

Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

Final Notes for 2008

A Question: What is an "American" car? BMW, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Toyota have major factories in the United States. The Chevy Aveo is built in South Korea. The new Ford Fiesta compact will be built just outside of Mexico City. Automobiles can have over 20,000 parts, and it's not easy to tell what counts as an American-made item.

A few years ago, GM switched from its own engines to Honda-built engines in its Saturn VUE line and the official "domestic content" went up from the year before. Turns out that the Honda engines were built in Ohio and the old GM engines were built in Europe. Cars.com compiles its own "American Made Index," and this year only 10 models had a domestic rating of at least 75 percent (they count the U.S. and Canada as domestic). The list includes four cars and six light trucks; three of the models were from Toyota and Honda. Only two of the models were actually made in or near Detroit....

Things to Remember After the Holidays: An estimated 42 million American adults are functionally illiterate. An additional 50 million Americans read at no higher than a fifth-grade level. This is no secret in the business world. Years ago, a friend who managed a popular chain restaurant explained to me why they have so many pictures in the menus....

Yikes: Recently, the Gallup/Harris organization found that 37 percent of the 1,400 American citizens surveyed could not identify their own country when shown a map of the United States. Two percent thought the U.S. was located on the map's color-coded inset legend....

The Bridge, Part I: From 1998 to 2008, at least 25 people committed suicide by jumping off the Tappan Zee Bridge into the Hudson River below. In 2007, the Thruway Authority added four telephone stations on the bridge that automatically connect callers to suicide prevention counselors. Next time you drive over the bridge toward the Westchester side, you might notice a sign on the right railing that says, "Life is Worth Living." It's part of the suicide prevention program....

The Bridge, Part II: I know. It's really the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge. No one calls it that. The widest spot of the Hudson has been called Tappan Zee for over three and one-half centuries....

The Bridge, Part III: In case you were wondering, I'm not thrilled with numerous attempts in recent years to replace or "enhance" traditional, descriptive names for landmarks (Tappan Zee, Triborough, Meadowbrook, Sunken Meadow and so on) with the names of politicians....

Corrections & Amplifications: Franklin Roosevelt and Ferd Haber were together in the Harvard undergraduate class of 1903 and not in law school, as indicated in a recent column. FDR attended Columbia Law for two years, dropping out after he passed the Bar Exam. Lay off, Columbia people....

Do the Right Thing, Part I: A recent national study out of the University of Wisconsin put the 2007 unemployment rate among black males in upstate Buffalo at 51.4 percent, the highest in the United States. White males in Buffalo had an unemployment rate of 25.3 percent. These figures are higher than the worst years of the Great Depression. The study described Buffalo as "depressed" and "de-industrializing." The city government is now Buffalo's largest landlord, owning more than 7,000 mostly-vacant homes. As of July 2006, 23 percent of the houses in Buffalo were vacant. Let's keep things in perspective as politicians and others scream that budget cuts discriminate against Long Island....

Do the Right Thing, Part II: Kudos to Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman for calling attention to problems that have festered for years in the county's Office of Consumer Affairs, which still tracks some cases on paper, or not at all (more than half the case folder examined by auditors showed no signs of further investigation). More on this another time....

Also: I will also have more to say about the recent passing of longtime Nassau Republican Chairman Joseph Margiotta....

Finally: Nothing. Absolutely nothing else. I wish you peace, peace and peace throughout 2009.

Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. Email: millercolumn@optimum.net