What’s black and white and seen all over?
Iowa’s new specialty license plate.
After all the discussion and debate over the design of the state’s standard plate — did you vote your preference two years ago? — who could have predicted that so many Iowa
motorists are choosing “blackout” plates for their rides? And paying extra for the privilege.
All across the state, county treasurer’s offices are having trouble keeping up with citizen demand for the plates, which are nothing more than white lettering on a black background. Apparently, drivers prefer that aesthetic for their particular vehicles’ make and color — and are willing to shell out an extra $35 initial fee and then $10 more each year.
So, add white-and-black to the more than 70 other specialty license plates that the state offers — from breast cancer awareness, to your college alma mater to military service. All those designs might be hard to keep track of, especially for law enforcement, but they are good for state coffers.
Here’s a tip for drivers who like the look of the blackout plate but want to save a few bucks. Instead of the new plate, order one for Dordt University. It features white lettering on black background and costs less than the blackout plate, but does carry the name of the Sioux Center institution.
Speaking of state coffers, they are replenished.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds last week announced that fiscal year 2019 will show a General Fund balance of $289.3 million. That’s more than double its balance after fiscal 2018 ($127 million).
The governor attributed the state’s “strong” fiscal health to “a vibrant economy as well as our ability to live within our means.”
There might have been another factor in Iowa’s favor that the governor didn’t mention.
We note that officials in Wisconsin, which also enjoyed a healthy 7.4% spike in revenues, weren’t necessarily patting themselves on the back.
In a press release, the Tax Foundation and Badger Institute cited a memo from state Revenue Secretary Peter Barca, who attributed much of the collections influx to a one-time phenomenon: Where they could, many businesses postponed earnings from 2017 until 2018 to take advantage of the new, lower federal corporate tax rate. As a result, corporate tax collections dropped in fiscal 2018 and spiked in fiscal 2019. According to the press release, this phenomenon occurred “not just in Wisconsin, but across much of the country.”
Remember, the Wisconsin official said it is a one-time phenomenon.
For her part, Reynolds expressed a cautionary note, pointing out that the agriculture sector is under strain. Indeed, farmers are being buffeted by multiple headwinds, including the impact of trade wars, depressed prices for commodities and increasing prices for operations.
While these healthy balances are positive, and might allow government to restore funding here and there, this is no time for a spending spree.
A culture of outrage has become increasingly prevalent in our world today.
Outrage at politicians, at referees, at newspapers, at social media posts, at beer companies. Nearly every news event results in someone being outraged about something.
It seemed like the trial of Amber Guyger would be no different. After all, the Dallas police officer who shot a man in his living room when she mistook his apartment for her own was an outrageous circumstance. How could she not know it wasn’t her apartment? Why did she immediately shoot him? There was plenty to be outraged about.
And, indeed, Guyger’s sentence of 10 years did prompt outrage — from angry citizens who thought 10 years was not nearly enough to pay for carelessly taking the life of an innocent man.
But, amid the outrage, the words and actions of one young man rose above the din.
Brandt Jean, the 18-year-old brother of the victim, Botham Jean, hushed masses with his stunning and soft-spoken words: “I forgive you.”
In a moment of incredible grace, Brandt Jean forgave the woman who took away his big brother, his mentor. With the court’s permission, he gave the former officer a long hug as she sobbed in his embrace.
Even this act of selflessness brought some outrage, from those who believed it glossed over an event that typifies the treatment of black men by white police officers.
But most likely, Brandt Jean wasn’t thinking about the outraged collective. He was looking into his own heart, after hearing at trial every detail about the worst thing he had ever endured — the murder of a loved one. And what he found there was a willingness to forgive a woman he believed was sorry.
Allison Jean, the mother of both men, reminded the world that although her son forgave Guyger, that doesn’t make everything all better.
“I don’t want the community to be mistaken by what [happened] in the courtroom,” she said, according to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. “Forgiveness for us as Christians is a healing for us, but as my husband said, there are consequences. ... you all must try to make Dallas a better place.”
Still, the words of forgiveness from a young man in mourning struck a chord at a time when the world is filled with dissonant tones of outrage.