When we flip a switch, we expect lights to come on. When it's hot outside, we count on our air conditioning systems to keep us cool inside. We want to be able to drink tap water without boiling it first. When we flush a toilet - well, out of sight, out of mind.
But no one wants to walk onto their deck on a summer morning and see a water treatment plant being built. And, based on the battles that are being fought in southeastern Minnesota, a lot of people feel the same way about wind turbines, sand mines and high-voltage power lines.
Not in my backyard.
The problem, of course, is that densely populated areas need more energy and use more water, but lack out-of-the-way places in which to ''hide'' utilities infrastructure.
That's where we're at with CapX2020, a $1.9 billion endeavor that will include a 150-mile high-voltage transmission line through Goodhue, Olmsted and Wabasha counties, with two small lines branching off to substations east and west of Rochester.
Sometime before Thanksgiving, some landowners will learn that they are going to have a very clear, up-close view of a high-voltage power line.
The massive towers are unsightly, but there are bigger concerns. Since 1979, researchers around the world have debated the possible effects of high-voltage lines on the health of those who live nearby, and there is at least some evidence suggesting a link to childhood leukemia.
Those concerns are easy to dismiss - until it's your children who are playing within 100 yards of a transmission line.
All we can really hope for is that when the route is selected, all affected landowners will be compensated fairly, and every effort must be made to minimize the lines' direct impact on their lives.
- The Post-Bulletin of Rochester, Minn.
OTHER EDITORS: Current generation 'shortchanged'
New Census data released demonstrate the chilling impact the recession has had on the current crop of young Americans, to whom the American Dream is increasingly becoming a historical curiosity.
Certainly the tradition of striking out on one's own is fast waning.
The Census says that 5.9 million Americans ages 25 to 34 are living with their parents, an increase of 25 percent over from before the recession. Men are now twice as likely as young women to live with their parents. As an expression, ''empty nesters'' is almost quiz-show material.
They are delaying the traditional middle-class aspirations of marriage, buying a home and starting a family. Well, they do start families, but typically do so out of wedlock, meaning the mother likely faces a life of poverty. One in four families is headed by a single parent, a record high, according to the Census.
Homeownership is down for the fourth straight year.
Only 55.3 percent of young adults 16 to 29 were employed, according to the Census, down from 67.3 percent in 2000 and again a post-World War II low.
Until a better name for this hard-luck cohort comes along, the Shortchanged Generation will do as well as any.
- The News-Herald of Willoughby, Ohio
OTHER EDITORS: Last meals lousy idea
Faster than you can recite condemned killer Lawrence Brewer's last meal - and it was a mouthful - a state senator pushed the head of Texas prisons to put an end to the long-standing ritual. The practice might have imparted a measure of civility, if not humanity, to the deadly process, but it has become increasingly anachronistic.
Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, who also happens to be the chair of the senate criminal justice committee, took issue with Brewer's final order, which consisted of six entrees, two desserts and a bowl of okra - basically one wing of a chain buffet - with three root beers to wash it down. Unsurprisingly, Brewer ate none of it.
We agree with Whitmire that the special last meal is an inappropriate gesture. It sends the wrong signal to a lot of people. No one ever asked a victim if he or she would like a special last meal.
- Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise