Winner: A majority of the Utah Division of Air Quality's board has voted in support of proposed new federal standards that would require refineries to cut the sulfur content of gasoline, require larger catalytic converters on automobiles and phase in new heat pumps that make starting a cold vehicle less polluting. The changes would come with a cost — somewhere between a penny and 9 cents per gallon for drivers. But the benefits ought to be obvious, especially in Utah. The Wasatch Front was, for a time, deemed the area with the worst air in the nation last winter. Temperature inversions exacerbate the effects of auto pollution, leading to health problems and hurting the state's image. Tougher standards are tangible ways to combat that problem without forcing people to stop driving.
Loser: The crime is as old as the Postal Service, but nonetheless outrageous. Thieves are stealing mail from mailboxes in South Jordan at an alarming rate, according to police. The criminals are looking for checks and other forms of money. This is a reminder that high-tech identity theft and computer hacking aren't the only dangers out there. Old-fashioned snail-mail crimes still exist.
Loser: No baby is a loser, of course, so let's stipulate up front that all 3,958,000 babies born in the United States in 2012 are winners. But that total was virtually flat from the year before, and the nation's birthrate remains at about 1.9, which is the real loser. The replacement rate is about 2.1. If the nation stays below replacement levels, eventually the nation will begin to suffer in predictable and negative ways, hurting the economy and making entitlement programs even less sustainable than they currently are.
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