It seems that the state of South Carolina - rarely at the forefront of anything - may be proposing something fairly interesting: An electronic license plate.

There is no telling if these plates would ever see the light of day. For one, they are potentially expensive - the inventor is trying to get the cost under $100 per plate (which means that they are over that point now). There does not appear to be a reliable source for the cost of the metal plates, but since they are often rumored to be stamped out in stacks by prisoners, you have to assume they are awfully cheap.

Which makes the question: Why switch?

With all the hubbub from the announcement that the government can snoop on pretty much anything they like - first Verizon calls, then later almost anything on the internet via a program named Prism (save Twitter, because that's so important), it leaves me wondering why there is such an issue.

The issue is that there was no transparency in the program. It was announced that the current administration took steps to figure out who leaked the documents - and later that person could get years in prison. But why is this? They shouldn't get prison time. They should get a parade.

It seems like just about each time I drive down some street or another, I end up stuck behind a row of buses. Yes, a row of buses. Okay, two may not actually qualify as "a row", but just how many do you need? One would surely do in most cases, and two is definitely more than enough, especially when it seems like they stop every hundred yards or so. Surely people can walk a hundred yards to the next stop rather than having the buses stop as often as they do, right?

Before being accused of saying the government should exist at all, I actually think that there is a place for the government - I just think that the government - especially at the federal level - should be really small, and I don't get why once something is enacted it is so difficult to get rid of it.

Maybe that is extreme. But maybe, just maybe, the government has their fingers - or their entire hands - in a few too many places and they needs to pull them out. It is already apparent that the only time the government is interested in doing so is when they are trying to use such a move when they are trying to bargain - like when they say they will shut down air traffic control towers at certain airports because there is no funding.

Now recent announcements in the Mint Hill area have the Highland Games being delayed. The Madness being delayed. Charlotte has the Carrousel Parade in danger of going under. Budget cuts may close the James K. Polk site (after $130,000 in renovations was released, no less). Perhaps the problem is the government just has their hands in too many places.

For that matter, not every program should be saved. Of course you realize I am not talking about your program, I am talking about theirs (pointing vaguely in the air at someone else).

If you live somewhere in the Charlotte area, you may have heard that the Concord and Hickory air traffic control towers are currently scheduled to be closed due to budget cuts. If anything is scheduled to be closed, it should probably not be air traffic control towers - but I suspect one of two things will happen here.

Either the traffic will do just fine by being handled at Charlotte-Douglas, perhaps with additional staff paid for by the very same people who didn't want to pay for those towers, or someone somewhere will figure out a way to pay for these employees elsewhere. Perhaps even the individuals using the fields will do so, such as the NASCAR teams that use the Concord airport and say that they need the controllers in the first place.

About a year ago, some strange ballot wording opened the door to victory - or at least continued existence - to the Mecklenburg County Transit Tax. It seems that such wording may actually be handed down from the state.

You see, in most places, if you were to go into a polling place and vote a straight ticket, you would expect that your vote would include casting your lot for the president on that party. Not so in The Old North State.

I read recently where Republican John Warner wants to revive the 55 mph speed limit in an attempt to save gas. You read that right. Bring back the old double nickel. Maybe I should get on the horn to see if I can find Sammy Hagar in defense of not doing so.

But before I do, the first thing to look at would probably be to decide on whether or not such a move would actually be worthwhile - not that it matters to the government, but it does matter to yours truly. So let's see what we can find out.

Last week, one of the more unlikely referendums hit the ballot. Of course, if you're from the Charlotte area, you know that voting for anything in the form of a referendum doesn't mean much anyway, as the city may just override your vote, as they did with the arena. And yes, I know that they put forth a different plan than the one that was voted on, so from a purely technical perspective, it didn't have to go to vote again. It's the principle here. I fully understand the idea that what actually happened isn't what was voted on, and I also fully understand that is why Lynn Wheeler isn't on the council any more. People actually decided to stand up and say that they cared.

So last week, everyone had a chance to say their piece again, this time in regards to transit. The original 1998 legislation was sold to the citizens, saying that the half-cent sales tax would fund a billion-dollar project to build light rail around the city. In fact, the first leg of that undertaking has become a $462.7 billion boondoggle down South Boulevard, and opponents of the plan are trying to revoke the half-cent sales tax, mostly because as much as 70% of the tax doesn't go to pay for trains, it goes to buses. Perhaps surprisingly, it made it to the ballot.

Of course, we live in Charlotte, so it's never quite that easy.

With the primaries just a bit over two weeks away, I thought it important to mention a lesson that I learned slightly after the last election: The importance of timely material. More specifically the importance of the timely arrival of material.

If you're like myself and millions of others out there, as an election draws near, you are very likely bombarded by mailings and phone calls to tell you to vote for someone - or, perhaps, to not vote for someone. There's a very likely chance that you simply deposit the mail in the trash (or, if you're a good neighbor, in the recycle bin) without ever looking at it. This is generally what I do.

But one piece of mail caught my attention after the last election, and I thought it worth mentioning. I think that just about everyone will find it interesting.

Obviously, there are those of you out there (I'm talking about the people who actually care what the American Community Survey may represent) who do read before they sign. But these days, when buying a house requires a lawyer because of the monstrous stack of documents that would take you months to read through, and even applying for a credit card can require hours of reading if you really read every single word, do you read everything before you put your name on the dotted line?

Apparently there is a significant percentage of people here in Charlotte who don't (I suspect that there are plenty in other places too).

For those who haven't been paying attention, it's recently been verified that the petition to force a referendum to repeal the transit tax (enacted in 1998) has 48,000 valid signatures, which means a November vote on the issue is likely. So why is it an issue if people pay attention to what they are signing? Because it seems that those who asked for people to sign the petition didn't actually tell folks what they were signing, and many of those who did sign didn't bother to read. But it's also apparent that many of the people who voted for the original tax in 1998 did so based on what they were told, rather than reading the fine print as well, so the proverbial knife can cut both ways.

It is no secret that one of the things that elected officials do is pat each other on the back. But they also pat other people on the back. If you have spent any time looking around, you've undoubtedly seen a resolution of some sort of another that in the end does nothing more than waste a bunch of time.

The state legislatures are especially fond of these. When I lived in California, you could find these resolutions about anywhere. I was pretty young, and I'll admit to not looking into it much, but I think you can get a resolution passed by the state for just about anything if you know the right person to ask. It seems that this even extends to the county level, if you live in Mecklenburg.