Archive for July, 2013

The Beauty of the Free Market

My wife and I recently took a trip to the Meijer Gardens near Grand Rapids, Michigan – it was part of her idea for a nice anniversary weekend getaway.  Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  I figured it would be largely similar to other botanical gardens we’ve visited in the past – moderately interesting unless you are a true botanophile.  I’m happy to report that the Meijer Gardens are much more than just a collection of plants – it is a beautiful mixture of architecture, sculptures, and masterful landscaping that exist synergistically to make this a very enjoyable place to visit.

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The Meijer conservatory. Photo courtesy of Meijer Gardens.

As we explored the grounds, I couldn’t help but think how perfectly this place represents the difference between the public and private sectors.  The Meijer gardens, like The Henry Ford (my favorite museum), operates without any government funding.  Their revenue is provided entirely by privately funded grants, foundations, and individual and corporate gifts.  Because they don’t accept money that was taken through coercion, they must ensure that the product they are offering is compelling enough that people would be willing to freely part with their money for the experience.  To that end, they have found a way to integrate artwork into the landscape in a way that enhances each.

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Beautiful landscaping enhances the artwork throughout the park. Photo courtesy of Meijer Gardens.

Further highlighting the difference between public and private, in the fall, when the flowers are no longer out, the gardens are transformed by the addition of glass sculptures.  Instead of packing it up and calling it a year, they’ve found a compelling and creative way to extend the visitor season.  In addition, the gallery adjacent to the conservatory features works by different artists on a periodic basis while the outdoor amphitheater offers evening musical entertainment generating an additional revenue stream.

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Moving sculpture changes with the wind.

A testament to the success of this model is the fact that as other museums have come begging, hat-in-hand, to the taxpayers for help, the Meijer Gardens is in the process of a major expansion.  Construction is currently under way for a massive Japanese garden area scheduled to open in 2015.

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Guns at the Movies

If you see a gun:

  1. STOP!
  2. Don’t Touch.
  3. Leave the Area.
  4. Tell an Adult.

These are the four steps taught to students of the NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe program and is good advice that every child should be made aware of.  Whether you are a firearms enthusiast or abhor the very mention of the word “gun”, the reality is that these tools are ever-present in our society and as such, we have a responsibility to teach young people how to stay safe around them. 

“But I would never allow my child to be in a place where they might be around guns!”, I can almost hear the anti-gun people saying.  Well, even the most fervent proponent of civilian disarment will typically argue that only police and military should be able to carry firearms.  As long as police are able to freely carry, you have the possibility of one of them leaving a loaded gun in a place easily accessible to children

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Fortunately, the nine-year-old boy who found a cop’s loaded gun in the bathroom of a movie complex knew what to do.  As his father is a concealed-carry permit holder and clearly more responsible than the average cop, I have no doubt that this topic was previously addressed with his son.  I highly encourage all parents to talk to their kids and teach them the four steps listed above – you never know when they may be useful.

Update 7/9/13:

New York trooper leaves gun in a park bathroom.

Pennsylvania cop leaves his duty belt containing his duty gun, taser, and spare magazines on his truck as he drives off.  Gun and taser go missing.

US marshalls lose at least 42 guns in five years.