When Congress or a state assembly is closely divided and neither party can pass legislation desired by constituents, it's common to hear frustrated partisans complain about “gridlock.” They say the word with a snarl, like it's some kind of contagion or something foul they've stepped in accidentally.
Granted, when you're stuck in traffic, gridlock is a bad thing. But when one political party is ridden with radicals and the other party has the power to block its agenda, that's a good thing. And when both political parties are scheming to increase our tax burden or reduce our freedoms, but can't agree on the best way to proceed, that's a good thing, too.
In short, sometimes gridlock's gotten a bad rap.
So, too, have backlog, delay and procrastination. Most of the time, they are bad things. Yet, sometimes they're not, because, sometimes, the best thing to do is to put things off: to punt.
For instance, when there's too much demand for something and you need to reduce that demand before things get completely out of control, you can either raise the price that people pay for it or lengthen the line they have to wait in. As the price gets higher or the line gets longer, more and more people will decide that they don't want to pay that much or wait that long and demand will decrease.
Raising the price may seem undemocratic, especially for public goods and services, but making everyone wait longer is as egalitarian as it gets.
Asbestos attorneys plying their trade in our area are fretting over an alleged “backlog” of cases they say is developing in the asbestos docket of Madison County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Stobbs.
Stobbs is allowing no more than 19 cases to be set for trial at a time and requiring plaintiffs attorneys to remove a case from the docket before adding another.
It’s has to be noted that only three cases out of the 656 asbestos cases filed in Madison County this year through June involve a Madison County resident. And only 10 percent of those 656 cases involved an Illinois resident. Our courthouse is under siege by out-of-towners.
Will asbestos attorneys eventually get tired of waiting and go away? We can hope. We also hope the court will tell a bunch of them to take their cases to go away.