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Free the Five Wives • When a state regulatory body refuses to carry a product you are marketing because it might be offensive to a certain group, you can complain. You can sue. Or you can sell T-shirts. That, to its credit, is what Ogden's Own Distillery has done in response to the banning of its new Five Wives Vodka from all of Idaho's liquor stores. The vintage photo of five 19th century women that gave the spirit its name was construed by the Idaho Liquor Division as a slam on polygamous early Mormon settlers. (It's really a reference to an expedition that predated LDS settlement, a wagon train with 66 men and five women.) But Utah booze barons, not exactly known for their joie de vivre, had approved it, as they did the much more directly targeted Polygamy Porter. It's too bad Ogden's Own has lost the Idaho market. But it stands to make up the difference on its "Free the Five Wives" T-shirts. $14. And alcohol free.
Huntsman still campaigning • It's what a politician says when he is no longer campaigning that says the most about him. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman was on the stump again the other day, months after his short run for the Republican presidential nomination ended, making good points and suggestions about what's wrong with American politics. His contention that our political system has never been more divided is hyperbole that ignores bitter campaigns all the way back to John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Still, Huntsman is right to lament the partisan extremism, senseless bickering and political snipe hunts that have paralyzed our system. Campaign finance reform and changes in the way most states gerrymander their political districts are among Huntsman's wise solutions.
Bad economics 101 • A recent Salt Lake Tribune report reassures us that Utah universities have not fallen into a habit that is harming the students at institutions of higher learning across the country. Some 900 colleges are pushing their students to use bank-issued debit cards to receive and spend their financial aid funds. The system supposedly saves the colleges money even provides them with a kickback from the card issuers but saddles the students with still more fees and debt at a point in their lives where they already have too much of both. Meanwhile, other reports show that the ever-bigger big banks continue to load their customers down with fees. Clearly, the banks are not the consumer's friend, even after we bailed so many of them out.