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A hubcap gets my attention

March 18, 2010 - Mike Maneval

When I arrived at the office today, I had a package waiting for me. It was a box about the size of delivered pizza, from a private company in Florida which repairs asphalt and concrete and a public releations firm it has retained.

Inside the box was a used hubcap. It is dirty and chipped and scratched. A letter with the damaged hubcap announces the launching of a campaign to bring attention to the need for more funding for road and highway infrastructure by mailing such hubcaps to "civic and business leaders." The letter describes mailing people damaged hubcaps as a "fun way to bring attention to a serious situation."

The hubcap has certainly brought my attention to a situation. As I sit and look at this hubcap, my attention turns to thoughts on the labor and shipping costs of assembling a supply of damaged hubcaps and sending them, at the very least, up and down the Atlantic Coast if not across the country altogether. And my attention turns to a knee-jerk proposition, a common assumption. A stated certainty that the private sector is just naturally less inclined to waste money. That our problems as a nation and a society would be resolved best by trusting in the people who mail me hubcaps, and trusting in them with less and not more oversight by institutions accountable to voters. That's the situation to which this hubcap brings my attention.


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