County’s recognition of George Bush is already in existence

February 25th, 2021 by Ken

Efforts to build a monument on the State Capitol grounds for Black pioneer George W Bush and his son William Owens Bush is well deserved.  Both father and son were early pioneers in this area and contributed substantially to the future of Thurston County.

But, to say there is no monument to the Bushes is in error.  In 1989, the Thurston County Historical Commission built a memorial to the Bushes on Bush Prairie at the intersection of 84th Avenue and Old Highway 99.   The monument is built in the form of the original homestead and is an all-encompassing tribute to this Washington pioneer.

The  four-sided monument tells the history of the Bush family, complete with pictures of the senior Bush and his son.  The monument covers his time in Missouri, his involvement in the War of 1812,  his involvement in the Simmons Party, his troubles in Oregon, his generous support of later arriving homesteaders  and all complete with pictures and quotes, including the State Legislature’s original tribute to the senior Bush upon his death.

A new monument on the state capitol grounds will just echo the tribute already contained the the many paneled monument already in existence.  The Thurston County Historical Commission and the residents of Thurston County are appreciative of our pioneering families and do all we can to recognize them.

I suggest the Black Heritage Society of Washington State and its president Stephanie Johnson-Toliver contact me and I will be happy to take her and any other on a tour of the memorial to George Washington Bush and William Owens Bush.

I am currently a member of the Thurston County Historical Commission.  However, the memorial was built before I was appointed to the commission.

 

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Significant property tax increases a shock

February 19th, 2021 by Ken

Paying property taxes this year was a shock.

My total cost was up nearly 16 percent over last year, while voluntary taxes (those voted on by us – such as school and fire district) was up by nearly 30 percent.

An increase in valuation of my house and property, went up only 8 percent.

Last year and the year before, (for collection this year) voters were very generous in approving new taxes and raising property tax lids.  So you and I have seen a major increase.   A 16 percent in taxes and a 30 percent increase in newly approved property taxes seems a little excessive.

Lets not forget, voters also approved significant increases in the sales tax, including a .03 cents for Intercity Transit.  Not included on this bill is the increase in utility taxes brought about by water and sewer costs.  Look at your utility bill closely and see how it has increased.

The question I ask, is who’s watching the store.  Who’s looking at all of the local taxes we pay?  It doesn’t seem that our local elected officials are doing a very good job.

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School unions are the bullies in the community

February 17th, 2021 by Ken

This Covid 19 Pandemic might signal the beginning of the end for the all powerful teacher unions which control every aspect of K-12 education in this country.

For decades, the teacher’s union, nationally The National Education Association, statewide the Washington Education Association and various local unions in every school district in the country, with a few exceptions have controlled education in this country.

No one gets elected to a local school board if the local teacher’s union objects.  No one gets elected to the top education spot in the state – Superintendent of Public Instruction – without the support of the state teacher union, and very few Democrats get elected to a state office without the support of the teacher’s union.

The power of this particular association of teachers is accomplished by members of the union – teachers.  Their dues support the union and a significant portion of those dues go to political action.  Teachers are encouraged to donate time and energy to political activities such as doorbelling, making phone calls, waving political signs and engaging in  fund-raising activities for politicians they support – who are then beholding to this particular constituent group.

Lets bear in mind that the teachers unions don’t care about the children.   Individual teachers do, and they care about the education students receive.  But the unions only care about their member – teachers.  And teachers support their union as long as it gets higher salaries, shorter working hours and school policies that favor teachers.

The Democratic party, locally, statewide and nationally is controlled by the teachers unions.  In the 2016 National Democratic Convention a full 40 percent of the delegates were educators.

But now, the Pandemic is casting an eye on the union’s power.  They are resisting sending teachers back into the classroom until everyone of them has been inoculated against Covid.  Despite that fact that Science says there is very little danger for teachers and students to resume in person education.

Many of the largest teacher unions in the country are in Democratic cities and states.  While parents scream for a return to classroom instructions, the union uses its political sway over mayors and governors, to resist the desire of the parents and the students.

This Pandemic, for the first time, has exposed the teacher unions as bullies.  For the first time, parents have begun to see how the education system operates – and they don’t like it.

I don’t know if parent anger at teacher unions will continue once all schools are re-opened.  We’ll find out when it comes time to pass school levies, vote for school board members and support Democratic candidates for state offices.

 

 

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Valentine’s Day – Another Sexist holiday

February 8th, 2021 by Ken

Who can be against love?  What person in his or her right mind can object to an innocuous holiday like Valentine’s Day?

Well, count me in as one who thinks Valentine’s Day has outlived its purpose.

Historically, Valentine’s Day has been the time when a man, through buying presents for a woman (usually flowers, candy or jewelry) proclaims his life long love and promises a romantic future.

Nothing of course could be further from the truth.

Men buy gifts for women on Valentine’s Day for one reason – and one reason only – he’s expected to.  A man can forget his lover’s birthday, he can forget his anniversary, but woe be unto the man who forgets a present on Valentine’s Day.

Media and merchandising messages have created an expectation in women, that the man in her life will show her affection on this day of the year devoted solely to love.  And he will show that love through the purchase of a romantic gift.

And on February 15, women across the country, will gather at the water cooler at work, or wherever they’ll gather this year and compare notes on their Valentine’s gift.  No woman wants to be left out of the conversation or made the butt of jokes.  Men buy women gifts on Valentine’s Day because he is expected to do so.

Valentine’s Day has outlived its purpose – if there ever really was one.

So, why do we still have this silly, sexist holiday?

Guess I better hurry and buy a card before all the good ones are gone.   Is it too late to order flowers?

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Local solar power efforts come up short

February 4th, 2021 by Ken

In 2006, the City of Lacey installed Data Collection Units  (DCU) on city light poles to read individual water meters on homes.    Those DCU’s are powered by solar panels.

The city up-graded its collection units with new software.  Now, the solar panels don’t provide enough energy to power the DCUs.   According to the city, we don’t get enough daylight during winter months to adequately power the DCUs.

The city is currently unhooking the DCUs from the solar panels and connecting them to street light power.

Thanks to the City of Lacey for providing this information in its monthly newsletter.  I reprinted here for those who don’t get the newsletter, or who don’t read the newsletter when it comes.

There are two lessons learned.

The current government effort to disconnect the national power grid from gas, coal and oil and hook it up to wind and solar generation has major problems.  Not the least of which is the inability of “renewable” energy to meet the current needs let alone future needs.

And, the fact that solar power isn’t working for water meter data collection was released by the City of Lacey.   Thanks to them for doing so.  But, we have come to depend on government to provide us information on government activities.  All too often we fail to get bad news by way of those government channels.   We need a local media which can monitor government action.  Please support your local media – be it “The Olympian”  Thurston Talk or JOLT.

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A radio adventure

January 30th, 2021 by Ken

(Editor’s note:  I celebrate my 50th year of media involvement this year.  I wrote this article about one of my radio ventures for my book “Personal History of Lacey.)

Everyone who knows Bob Blume has their favorite Bob Blume story.  Here’s mine.

Bob always wanted to be involved in the media.  He supported The Lacey Leader in its early days but turned away when the paper wrote articles he didn’t like.  But being a media owner remained one of his interests.

When word came that the FCC had allocated a new 50,000 watt  FM radio station for the greater Olympia area, Bob jumped at the chance and filed the necessary paperwork to obtain the station.  After months of paperwork and money, the FCC made their decision.  They awarded the station to Dave Rauh and Toni Holm, two former Evergreen students.  They started and continue to operate KXXO FM radio station in Olympia.

But Bob found an alternative.  Leasing property from him in South Sound Center was an AM radio station KLDY.  Owned by a Tacoma woman the station played a female oriented music selection.   When Bob had an opportunity to buy the station, he did so.

Now bear in mind, that Lacey had a long history in radio.  KGY radio began at St. Martin’s College, and though now headquartered in Olympia, it at one time had a studio in South Sound Center where it broadcast daily.  Other radio stations have also had a Lacey location.  KITN Radio moved from downtown Olympia into Lacey in the 1980’s and operated from a facility off of Sixth Avenue until it moved away and eventually went out of business.  KTOL radio broadcast from studios in Lacey off of Pacific Avenue until it too eventually moved away and faded out.

So, while Lacey was no stranger to radio stations, the same couldn’t be said for Bob Blume.  Bob had absolutely no concept of radio or just how it worked but he had his radio station and began pumping money into equipment, facility and staff.  He hired good staff, well-paid staff and set off to turn the world of broadcast on its ear.  He even hired me.

I did “Man on the Street” interviews.  I took a tape recorder and each day would ask people a “Question of the Day.”  I took the tape back to the station and they edited it for broadcast.  Bob paid me $10 an interview.  Without much effort and in just an hour or so, I could do 10 interviews and make $100 a day.  That was good money at the time.

But after a few months it became obvious that the station wasn’t doing what Bob wanted it to do – – and it was losing money.  Bob never liked to lose money.  One day he called me into his office.

“I’m losing $30,000 a month on this radio station,” he said.  “Why?”

Being honest like I was, it didn’t take me long to give him the answer.  “You’ve got too many people working for you and you’re paying them too much money,” was my reply.

The next morning Bob called me into his office and fired me.

The story ended for me there, but KLDY continued to operate for several more months with a very reduced staff and eventually, like KITN and KTOL it just kind of faded away.

Bob never again entered the radio business.

 

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The Breakfast Clubs

January 29th, 2021 by Ken

 Every village, town, city, burg and borough in this country has a Breakfast Club.  A group, who meet every morning for coffee, conversation and food.

While the excuse to gather together is for breakfast, the real reason is to talk about the day, catch up on the latest gossip, explore the deeper meaning of things and to act as the community bulletin board.

These groups, usually men – although more recently women have joined –  meet wherever there is a place to sit, food to eat – coffee to drink – and a place that will tolerate them.

From the beginning in Colonial America, to the present day, these breakfast clubs were informal community meetings and a major force in their communities to talk about the subject of the day.  Whether it be the government and the need for new taxes, the weather and its impact on the crops, or the need for a new school or sidewalks in the neighborhood, these breakfast clubs were a way to gauge public opinion, and ascertain where the community stood on the events of the day.

Lacey has had its breakfast clubs.  They’ve met at the Flavor Nook, Pat’s, the Chuckwagon, Sambos, Hawks Prairie, Dennys and Shari’s. The roster of attendees is the beating heart of the city.

But, now, they’ve been sidelined in the cause of a greater community good – – the Pandemic.  For several months now, these groups have been unable to meet and these public meeting places have been closed down.

It’s true, you can continue to meet on-line.  A few have attempted Zoom meetings and other forms of technology to keep in touch.  But it doesn’t have the punch of in-person communications.

Open the restaurants and coffee shops.  They are the public meeting houses of America – and America can’t long function without them.

 

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Footprints in your mind

January 26th, 2021 by Ken

It was 1964.  I was in the Army stationed at Ft. Lewis.  I didn’t have a car, but my friend Gary did.

When the weekend came, we decided to go cruising and look for girls, but Gary wanted his car to look good and wanted me to help.  So we spent the day, washing, waxing, vacuuming and cleaning out his car until it was ready for any young lady to appreciate.

We drove up and down State and Fourth, “dragging the gut”  several times before heading into Kings Drive In.  We pulled into a parking spot and noticed, one stall away a car with two young women in it.  Gary said, “Bet you, you won’t go over and talk to them.”

“How much,” I replied.  “I’ll buy you a burger,” he said.  “You’re on.”

As I walked towards the car I noticed the driver was an attractive brunette while in the passenger side was a cute blonde with curls that hung down over her collar.

I tapped on the driver’s window.  She rolled it down and looked at me.  I reached in through the window, took her drink, downed as much of it as I could in one gulp and handed it back to her.  “Thanks,” I said and walked back to Gary’s car.

It didn’t take more than a minute before she was at our window.  I rolled down the window and heard her ask, “Why did you do that?’

“First of all,” I said, “I was thirsty.  And second of all, I wanted to meet you.”

Eventually we all got out of our cars and stood around talking.  The driver’s name was Margie.  She and her friend were from Shelton and came into the big city this weekend “just to see what was happening.”

We talked for a while and I got her phone number.  Gary got the other girl’s name.

I called her a few days later and made a date to pick her up in Shelton.   Gary was driving up because the blonde was coming as well.

In those days, there was no freeway to Shelton.  You had to take the long winding road along the bay and it took 45 minutes to an hour to get there.   We did the normal things on a double-date.  A meal, some talk and then a little “making out”.  Me and Margie in the backseat and Gary and the blonde in the front seat.  I’m pretty sure I got to second base with Margie but it never went any further than that.

Gary and the blonde broke up.  He wasn’t going to drive to Shelton any more.  I  borrowed my brother’s car and went Shelton one time, met Margie’s folks, but that was the end.

The Army called me away to do six months in Alaska at Fort Richardson.  When I came back, I was interested in someone else.  I thought of Margie occasionally but only saw her one other time.  I ran into her on the Capitol Campus.  We said “Hi, how are you?” and went on our way.

But, obviously, 60 years later, I still think of her, because I did write this story.  Guess it goes to show that while people come and go in our lives, they all leave their footprints.

 

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Trumpism – the new McCarthyism

January 21st, 2021 by Ken

There’s a new “McCarthyism” casting a shadow over the face of this country.  It’s called “Trumpism.”   And, just like McCarthyism, it will bring pain, anger, disbelief and fear to millions of Americans.  Some 70 million to be exact.

I was a young teenager in the 50’s when McCarthyism ran rampant and unrestrained.  While I was not directly affected by it, I was aware of it.  Friends of my parents, particularly those trying to unionize the Metal Craft company in Tumwater where my folks worked, were tarred with the brush of “Communist.”

When they talked about their unionizing efforts, it was always with hushed tones and quick glances around the room to see who was present  Often it was me.  As a child I was not always knowledgeable of the full scope of McCarthyism, but I did watch television news and I knew that communists were not people I wanted to associate with.

It wasn’t until a decade later that I realized the full extent of McCarthyism and how it managed to evolve and spread because no one in power spoke up in favor of “Free Speech.”  Their silence condemned people to huddle in their own minds and keep their feelings to themselves.

McCarthyism was one of the most significant assault on the First Amendment particularly the freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

Now, however, comes “Trumpism.”  The idea that those who supported President Donald Trump are enemies of the “new” state and need to be identified and placed in the newly created world of shame populated by shameful people.

They need to be deprived of their right to speak and their right to influence others.  They need to feel shame and to publicly confess their sins and cleanse themselves of “wrong” thoughts.

McCarthyism sprang from an alcoholic, egotistical senator, whose rhetoric kept the political leadership from speaking out against it until many Americans were harmed.

What’s different this time is that “Trumpism” is being led by our political leaders and their young followers, who have no sense of history and apparently no understanding of what happens when speak and thought are controlled by those in power.

Decades from now, when the memories of Donald Trump fade, historians will look back at this time and wonder how we let it start and how we let it go on so long.

 

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What is Friendship?

January 18th, 2021 by Ken

According to the dictionary, a friend is a person ones knows well and is fond of.  A friend can also be a supporter or a sympathizer.  Webster’s has half a dozen definitions of a “friend”.

I have 501 Facebook friends.  I have to admit, I don’t really know some of them well, but I do know many of them.  For the most part, they are people whom I am fond of – to varying degrees.

Because of Facebook and other media, we now throw the term “friend” around without a great regard to what it really means to be a friend.  In many instances, we use the term loosely as a definition of “acquaintance”.

When it was noted that I had been infected with Covid 19;  I had nearly a hundred people post notes of support (and love) on Facebook.  I had more than two dozen calls from those concerned about my health.  And, I had half-dozen friends (other than family) who visited me in person despite the perceived danger to their own health.

But, is that really the defining element of friendship?  Is being a friend as simple as showing concern?

I believe showing compassion and concern is a significant sign of friendship. But, I also believe that having a friend requires that you spend time and emotional energy in fostering that relationship.

I have friendships which have lasted more than half-a-century.  I have many “old” friends.  Some of them I see on a regular basis and enjoy their company as I have always done.  Others I see only once or twice a year, but when we get together its as if we saw each other only last week.

But, I also have many new friends.  Relationships that are only a few years old and in some cases only a few months old.  Those friendships are old friendships in the making, just waiting for time to add its flavor in the form of common activities, spice in the form of disagreements, and the sweetness of conversation and spending time with each other as the defining element.

When I lose a friend, through death or through some unthinking action on my part – – I mourn.  Next to the death of a family member, I can’t think of anything worse than the loss of a friendship.

These recent few years has made it more difficult to retain some friendships.  Often we are judged on some minor slight, or uttered statement, which affects our perception of each other.  For some, these can’t be overcome.  But, for me, disagreements and even arguments are the elements which test the strength of the relationship and bind us to each other.   From that, we get the compassion. concern, and mutual understanding which are the basis of all friendships.

 

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Goodbye America

January 14th, 2021 by Ken

By Ben Stein

A spectacularly perfect day here in Beverly Hills. I swam for about half an hour in my super-warm pool. Then my wife and two friends and I had a secret AA meeting at a secret location. We love our AA. It has saved all of our lives for decades. It means everything to us. It’s all about bringing ourselves to God and falling into His loving arms.

Then, a quick lunch and then out to our house in Malibu. The sky was cloudless, light blue. Once we got to the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), we could see forever out over the ocean. It was shimmering, gorgeous, calm, or “Pacific” as one might say.

I called a close relative in a large eastern city and asked her what she had been doing all day. “Really interesting stuff,” she said. “I had a Zoom lecture with a Jewish group about our own racism. First, a man spoke to us for about an hour about what were the signs of racism within ourselves. There are so many,” she said breathlessly.

“Then we had four hours to answer questions and to create our own ‘racial autobiography.’ That’s when we first noticed our own racism and the racism in our families and neighbors.

“Then we wrote about how sorry we are, and how we would make it up to the people we oppressed.”

My head was spinning.

“I wrote a lot about how so many neighborhoods in our hometown were restricted against Jews. Then I thought about how those neighborhoods were also closed to blacks. Then I wrote again about how sorry I am and about how I will make certain my children and grandchildren will be free of that same kind of racism.”

It was pure Maoist, Communist Chinese self-criticism and confession. This is what is happening in our beloved America in the family of multi-millionaires. It’s really true. Our fellow citizens are being taught to hate their own country and themselves. I did not bother to argue with my relative. She’s into this kind of “thought,” and nothing I can do will change her.

The call ended with a bad connection, and then I was at the supermarket called Pavilions in mid-Malibu. It was deserted of customers but filled with fish, meat, chicken, and everything else good. How blessed we are.

I sped along PCH in my breathtaking new car, an Audi with something like 533 horsepower, a huge V-8 and twin turbochargers, and it goes like a banshee. I went into our house and walked out onto the deck to take pictures of the setting sun. The phone rang. It was another relative calling me from far, far away. She was in Potsdam, doing research on how helpful the East German (yes, I said East German) government was in helping Nelson Mandela and ending apartheid while the USA was helping out the white supremacist racist regime. I told my caller I could not get a good connection.

Yes, my caller was telling me how great the East German government was and how horrible the USA was. This is where we are now, and Biden hasn’t even been inaugurated yet. I didn’t want to tell my caller that East Germany and its Stasi secret police were the most violent, vicious entities in Europe during the 1950s and 1960s. What good would it do? None so blind as those who will not see.

What the heck happened to our beloved America? Where did we go off the rails? Anyway, I slept for a short while, and then I got in my spaceship Audi and headed home.

At home, my wife, world’s most wonderful human, an actual goddess, was reading a mystery and smiling a big smile. I sautéed a huge steak for her, and now here I am wondering what the future holds. Probably best not to think about it.

My wife looks awfully good, and so does the steak.

(Editors note:  Ben Stein is an American humorist)

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Carol

January 12th, 2021 by Ken

The first time I saw Carol she was pouring coffee.  The last time I saw Carol, she was pouring coffee.  It never occurred to Carol that someone would want to come into her small diner and not order coffee – particularly in the morning.

I was up early. I couldn’t sleep.  A little from nerves and a little from excitement. It was 1965 and  I had just gotten out of the Army after nearly six years of service. I had my first job interview in the morning.  I was going to Tumwater City Hall to be a cop.

It was still early and I decided to stop at the Trails End, a small cafe adjacent to the Tumwater Inn tavern on the corner of Trosper and Capitol Boulevard.   I had some time to kill and I wanted to try and get my thoughts together.

The Trails End seated about a dozen customers, although in the evenings, Ted would open up the backroom and meet the needs of his half-drunk customers from next door.  It was busiest on Saturday night, when due to the Blue Laws and no booze on Sundays,  The tavern had to close its doors at midnight.

But, while tavern-users were the customer-base in the evenings, the mornings belonged to Carol and the men who stopped by for breakfast, conversation and coffee.

I walked in the door.  Carol looked at me, nodded towards a seat at the counter and poured me a cup of coffee as I sat down.  “What’ll it be,” she said.   I thought about asking for a menu, but felt a little ill at ease so I ordered bacon, eggs – over easy and hash browns.  Carol repeated my order to the wall behind her, moved the sugar and cream a little closer to my cup, then walked away to pour a refill for one of her regulars.

I was taken by the scene.  Men, a dozen men, of all ages, were sitting at the counter and the small two-person table crammed against the wall, under the window.

Carol was taking care of them all – not only pouring coffee, but talking with them, asking them questions about their sick wife, the job they hated, whatever happened to Bob.

When my order was up, she brought it to me and sat it down.  “Anything else – ketchup, hot sauce,” she asked.  She didn’t ask if I wanted a refill on my coffee, she just topped it off and turned to do the same to the guy sitting next to me.

But she didn’t leave.  “You on your way to work?” she asked.  I told her about my job interview.  “We have a couple of them who stop in pretty regularly,” she said speaking about the police.  “They’re nice guys.”

Shortly sounds of “Goodbye Carol” and “See you tomorrow” began to fill the diner, as her customers got up to continue their day.   I notice that very few of them got a bill.  Most just put a few dollars on the counter and left.

I began to realize that Carol was more than a waitress to these men.  She was the mother, the wife, the friend, the person they needed every morning to get their day started.  It wasn’t the food – or the coffee – that brought them in every morning.  It was the feeling of being part of something that gave them comfort.  It was being part of a family.

Carol refilled my coffee again as she began picking up the plates and cleaning off the counter.  I realized that I was almost alone, with only a couple of  guys a few seats away.  I decided it was time for me to leave, even though I would be early for my interview. I didn’t know what the bill was but like the others, I just left the money on the counter.  I put out a five dollar bill, although I was certain that was more than enough.

As I turned to leave Carol said, “Good luck on your interview.”

“Thanks,” I said and walked out.  When I got to the door, I turned to take one more look.  Carol was pouring coffee to the sole remaining customer.

(I was offered the job, but turned it down, when I went to work for the state in a job that paid more.)

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How did we get in this homeless mess?

January 5th, 2021 by Ken

Homelessness  in the shape we see it today, didn’t just appear overnight.  It has been coming for a long time and slowly worked its way into a situation which has over-whelmed social and government agencies.

Homelessness has always been with us, particularly since the days of the Industrial Revolution.  There’s a great deal of blame to place on many actions of government which forced this issue upon us.  But in modern society, the digital revolution and misplaced activities of well meaning people all play a role.

During the Industrial Revolution workers began moving from the farm into the big cities, Homeless was always a problem.  As long as people stayed on the farm, homeless was not something most people thought of.  But, as the movement to the cities began to take place in the 18th Century, homelessness began to make itself known.

In the United States, the consumption of alcohol in significant amounts by the general public began to affect a growing number of users.  We saw this throughout American history with the Skid Rows and the Flop Houses and the alcoholics laying in the streets.   But the problem was ignored until the passage, in 1919, of the 18th Amendment banning the sale and distribution of alcohol.  This well-intentioned action ignored the number of casual drinkers who also wanted access to their evening drink.  The result of course led to an increase in crime, an increase in drinking and an increase in social problems.  Approval of the 21st Amendment in 1933 repealed the ban on alcohol.  But by then, the damage had been done.

It wasn’t the last time a government policy or procedure, while well-intentioned, would worsen a problem it was designed to solve.

Following World War II, American society began to change.  The war had needed women in the workplace and left many children to fend for themselves during the process.  When the war ended, women returned back to the homes.   The resultant Baby Boom and the increase in the number of children in the community led to a desire to make communities better and safer. Parents began to look to government to do just that.

With an increase in children and the resultant demand for housing, a major home building boom began.  Millions of single-family homes were built in the decades of the 50’s, 60’s and into the 70’s.  This rapid increase in houses began to make itself felt in cities.  Government felt forced to take some control over growth.  They began to put in place zoning ordinances which restricted where growth should occur.  This increased the cost of available land.  They also began to approve measures to make the houses safer.  The restrictive rules and regulations began to add to the cost of building houses.

Restrictive government rules made the cost of undeveloped property more expensive.  Banks make loans for builders based on the cost of the property.  Increases in the cost of property required builders to build larger and more expensive homes if they wanted a bank loan.

The decision of government in the 1980 to make growth pay for growth, resulted in housing impact fees which also significantly contributed to increases in home prices.

With millions of young people exploring their world,  the drug culture exploded. Many experimented  with drugs in the 60’s and the increase in drug distribution from organized criminal gangs took hold in the United States in the 70’s.  Drugs were cheap and plentiful.  In an effort to get control of the problem city and states instituted harsh penalties for possession of controlled substances.  Our jails filled with thousands of youth.  The result was a generation of young people with a criminal record and little way of making a living upon release except through the skills they learned in prison.

Government began to see the negative results of their war on drugs and turned to the pharmaceutical industry to come up with drugs of their own which could  soften the impact of illegal drugs.

At the same time, the pharmaceutical industry was asked to help in the fight against mental illness. Insane Asylums had been the answer for those suffering from mental illness.  Many patients had been confined for decades often suffering debilitating treatment.  Asking the pharmaceutical industry to help develop drugs which could treat some forms of mental illness, became the answer to emptying the mental institutions.  In the 1980’s many mental facilities were closed because the new drug therapy was working.  Unfortunately, drug therapy was often expensive, difficult to administer and difficult for some patients to remember.  Soon, these patients were in jail or on the streets.

Meanwhile, government, in its efforts to create room for new housing and to assure adequate construction rules, began to eliminate cheap housing.  Gone were sub-standard houses.  Cheap hotels were demolished.  Trailer parks were forced out of urban areas or relegated to rural lands.  Housing that alcoholics, addicts and those suffering from  mental illnesses would have gravitated towards were nowhere to be found.  Those suffering from drug or alcohol abuse or mental illnesses, were now, out on the street. .

Just as the Industrial Revolution impacted society and created urban poor, the Digital Revolution did the same to modern American cities.  Wherever large Tech Corporations, with their well-paid employees.  settled, the scarcity of housing to meet the needs of these behemoths caused the price of housing  to increase substantially.  It happened in California, it happened in King County and Washington State and its happening now in Arizona and Texas.  Big monolithic industry drives up the price of everything including the price of housing – often putting it out of range for those not employed in the high tech field.

The housing recession of 2008-2009, showed many former home owners that the cost of owning a single-family home may be out of reach of many who thought they had secure employment.  This recession slowed the demand for single-family homes  .Apartments and condominiums became more prevalent, again adding to housing shortage.  While some young and old can live in apartments with some sense of permanency, families cannot.

That’s the historical background leading to our current situation,.

The answers to the problem are multi-faceted and multi-pronged   There is no single solution.  The issue has been with us for decades and government and social service agencies have debated for decades in an effort to find an answer.

The first step is to recognize that it is not a homeless problem.  It is a drug, alcohol and mental health issue. Nearly 80 percent of all the residents of the camps have those problems.  The other 20 percent are homeless through no  fault of their own – domestic abuse, job loss, medical costs and family disputes.  We currently have programs that work for those individuals and they are rapidly re-housed.

As for the bigger problem, Federal, State, and Local government are stymied.

A recent Federal Court ruling that –  homelessness is not a crime and people can’t be moved unless there is somewhere to move to –  has complicated the issue.  But local government’s decision not to enforce misdemeanors like drug use, littering, theft and other anti-social behavior has complicated efforts to remove “homeless camps.”

The  major responsibility of government is to provide for the safety of the people.  Our elected officials should be forced to honor that commitment.  We must provide more funding for police, jails, prosecutors and the legal system in general.

Until we stop the crime spree associated with homeless camps, we’ll continue to argue and fight over what to do with the drug addicts and those suffering from mental illness.

Once we get the “camps” under control and the criminal activity associated with them, we’ll be able to talk about the next step. Such as treatment, temporary housing, rehabilitation and jobs.

History has shown that government action often doesn’t work and in some cases actually has a negative impact. But, history has also shown that the people will eventually force government to take action.

And, right now, that action seems to be paramount.

 

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2020 Hindsight

December 27th, 2020 by Ken

What kind of year was it?  I can sum it up with a few simple words.

Partisan politics – homelessness – Social upheaval – Pandemic – Economic meltdown – Partisan politics.

Those few words spell out what kind of year 2020 was.  You don’t need to read any further, unless you want my take on what those words represent.

The year started out with the impeachment of President Donald Trump.  With minor exceptions, all Democrats voted to kick the lying, ignorant, egotist out of office.  Republicans with some minor exceptions voted to support the leader they felt was being flayed, fried and fricasseed by the national media working for Democrats who were suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome.

The issue of homeless seemed to be under control until a Federal judge in California ruled that “homeless is not a crime” and you couldn’t kick them out of public spaces unless there were other accommodations for them.  That’s when our drug and alcohol problems became a homeless problem.  Local politicians became a afraid to face the issue of minor criminal offenses over concern for violating the civil rights of the homeless.

Several well-publicized actions of police shooting and killing black men and women set off a firestorm of protest around the country, forcing the general public to gain a better understanding of racism in America.  It morphed into protests about historical racism and brought about efforts to erase 250 years of American history.

When the Covid 19 Pandemic reached the shores of the United States, first noticed in a nursing home in King County and later washing up in New York City, a quarantine was declared by the city’s mayor in an effort to flatten the curve of patients filling the city’s hospitals.  As the Pandemic spread, more and more governors and mayors declared a quarantine and shut down local businesses – forcing bankruptcy and unemployment to its highest ever.  Never mind that 99.6 percent of all people who get the virus survive.

The economic meltdown continues.  The federal government – in its wisdom – threw trillions of dollars at the problem while the banknote printing presses continue to roll out a long future of significant inflation.

And of course, we ended the year with another round of politics as the Democrats searched high and low for the person that could defeat that tyrant in the White House.  They found their savior in a man who had sought that office at least four times in the past.

That wraps up 2020.  With the exception of no presidential election next year, and maybe a vaccine that works, I suspect that the problems of this year will continue into 2021.  Unemployment, homeless, social upheaval and partisan politics will continue as usual.

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The Christmas Story

December 23rd, 2020 by Ken

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world would be registered.  So all went to register, everyone to his own city.

Joseph went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Bethlehem because he was of the House of David – – to be registered – with Mary, his betrothed wife – who was with child.

So it was that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered – – and she bought forth her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes – and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were – in the same country – shepherds living out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were greatly afraid.

The the angel said to them  – do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you – this day – in the City of David – a savior – who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be the sign to you.  You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manager.

And suddenly there was – with the angel – a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying – – Glory to God in the highest – and on Earth, peace, good will towards men.

 

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How Evergreen changed society

December 21st, 2020 by Ken

 How did a small liberal arts college, on the outskirts of a small state capitol, tucked away in the corner of the country, spread a social revolution that changed politics and the future?

That’s The Evergreen State College story.

Founded in 1967 and opened to students in 1971, the college was charged by the Washington State legislature to “be different.”  The college embraced that charge.

Founding faculty members, many from the East Coast and New England, remade the idea of a college.  Professors were to teach, not write and do research.  To make certain that they held to that concept,  there were no permanent deans who were replaced after a period of time and eventually returned to teaching.  There were no “schools”.  Every year the teaching curriculum could and would change.  Teaching would be in a coordinated system with several students and several teachers with differing expertise working together

There were no mandatory classes and no grades.  Students would study in the areas that interested them.  Professors would evaluate each student.  The student in turn would evaluate each professor,  Upon graduating the student would have a portfolio of his/her work which would substitute for a GPA.

Over-arching all this, was a progressive concept that put skills into the hands of the individuals who would work through existing stables of power to make government more responsive to the over-all good of society.

Many other colleges around the country have been in similar situations with an ability to educate students in the progressive vein.  But those were often private colleges.  What made Evergreen so unusual  is that it was a public college, funded by government.  Because of all that it developed the power of influencing government policy on a national level?

First – it was a small college, without any historical perspective on how a college should be run.  The policies it adopted allowed the school to change with the upheavals of the 1960’s and 70’s.

Second – It was located in a small state capitol city, which at the time of founding had less than 30,000 residents and was located in an urban area of less than 150,000.  As time went on, the number of students graduating from the college and staying in the community had a level of impact far beyond most colleges.

Evergreen has more than 40,000 graduates.  A significant portion of them – perhaps as many as half – have stayed in the community.  The unique make-up of the student-body has contributed to the relatively “home base” of its graduates.  Early on the school attracted women and many classes were oriented towards those women.  Many women were first-time college students or women returning to college and many of them had family in the community.

Because state government often required a college degree to advance up the pay scale, it encouraged its employees to take classes and many of them did.  And, after having graduated, many of them went back to work for government.

Third –  As they worked their way up the ladder in state government, these “Greeners” and their “liberal” philosophy began to influence the course of state government.  The influence of these Greeners was significant.

Because the college was located in a small state capitol, the 20,000 graduates who remain in Thurston County exert tremendous influence in their jobs.  Many of those graduates are in top management position  Because state government is the primary job source, the influence of the college on the future of the state is tremendous, as its history over the last 50 years clearly shows

If the college had been located in a large metropolitan area its impact  would not be extensive.   If the state capitol had been located in a large metro area, then the college’s impact would have been insignificant.  But with a liberal arts college located in a community of around 150,000 (at the time) and with state government as the major source of employment, The Evergreen State College has driven the political bent of the State of Washington.

While most of the impact is done in the halls of state agencies it’s difficult to quantify just how extensive the influence has become.  But Evergreen’s impact on the state was made almost as soon as the college opened its doors in 1971.

Jolene Unsoeld, wife of founding faculty member Willi Unsoeld (and later Congresswoman) began the effort to create a Public Disclosure Commission.  With Initiative 276 she was successful.  Other initiatives to change state government and open it to scrutiny followed.

Vote By Mail and Top Two Primaries are just the most visible of actions taken by Washington State that can be traced back to those who work for state government, which emanates from Olympia.

These public changes were only the most visible of the impacts of Greeners on state government.   Agency policies after agency policies followed.

Because the capital of  state government is in Olympia, many advocacy groups have an office near the state capitol.  Many of those are staffed by Greeners who didn’t go to work directly with government  and became lobbyists and advocates for various positions.  Often they worked with people in state government with whom they went to school.

Evergreen’s educational bent can be seen by its advanced degree programs – Public Administration, Environmental Studies, Education.  Students who graduate from the school with master degrees in those areas of education usually go into government.  And, that  government headquarters is in Olympia.

Evergreen’s curriculum also encouraged women to go to school, or go back to school.  Women studies programs helped working women and single moms to transition into public policy jobs.   These classes and the resulting number of educated women gave them an access  into government work.  Social programs oriented around education, childcare and health then became main priorities of  state government.

By the beginning of the 21st Century Washington State was the leader in progressive government. Other states began to adopt its own policies that echoed those coming out of Olympia and the State of Washington  Leadership in our current social movement can be laid at the foot of The Evergreen State College and its thousands of graduates working for state and local government.

 

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Trump has changed political history

December 18th, 2020 by Ken

Donald Trump is not going to go gently into that good night.  He is going to rage, rage, against the coming of the light.

Until he doesn’t.

Trump has made a mark on this country which will last for generations.  His contribution to history is the realignment of the Republican Party.   He took a moderate to conservative organization and made it into a blue collar, rural, middle class party.

Realignment of political parties is as old this country itself.  Over the last 250 years, political parties have come and gone and major parties often grab the best from the old parties and adopt them for themselves.  This has been the historical precedence.  But, in the case of Donald Trump, the Republican Party changed so rapidly that we’re still trying to determine what type of party it has become.

The Democratic Party has been undergoing a change itself.  Its process of change has been slow but steady.  Historically it had been the party of rural, blue collar voters with its feet deeply planted in the soil of the “solid south”.

The change started with FDR, continued under President Harry Truman and escalated under the leadership of LBJ.  It continued its change under President Obama and is now the party of the urban elite, held together by government unions and their white collar workers.

There are some racial tones in both parties – – not necessarily black and white.

But, politics in the 21st Century has changed and Donald Trump will go down in history as the man who transformed the Republican Party into the party of the forgotten and left behind.

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Society’s forgotten minority – boys

December 10th, 2020 by Ken

While other minorities in the United States have made significant progress in the last decade, one minority is still facing discrimination in many forms, particularly in our educational system.

Boys.

I’ve hammered on this issue many times in the past, and it receives recognition from the national media occasionally until something more burning takes its place.   But the issue of discrimination against boys cuts across all racial lines, all income levels and all communities.

I’ve talked about our educational system, run by women for girls.  Boys are forced to conform to a system that rewards traditional female behavior and punishes traditional male behavior.   Boys drop out of high school in greater numbers than do girls and girls go on to additional schooling in greater numbers than do boys.

Nearly 65 percent of all students in college are females and in some fields – medicine and law – – the number of women is significantly higher.

More than 20 percent of boys with only a high school diploma had no full time employment.   (Prior to Covid).

Our national media continues to tout the number of girls who take math and science courses, but forgets the number of boys who don’t take either.

Schools need to become boy friendly.  In grade school they need to give boys space and time to be boys.  They need to find innovative ways to keep boys attentive and at their desks rather than resort to drugging them to keep them quiet.  (I don’t know how many boys are not doing on-line education now because of Covid, but I suspect they make up a large segment of those who are missing.)

It’s been a long period of neglect for our boys.  Our educational system is non-functioning for them.

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Quarantine humor

December 2nd, 2020 by Ken

I’m having a Quarantine Party this weekend.  None of you are invited.

 

Now, when I’m watching a television show or movie.  All I can think of is – everybody is standing WAY to close.

 

I use to spin that toilet paper like I was on the Wheel of Fortune.  Now I turn it like I’m paying a dollar a sheet for it.

 

After Quarantine Day 16 I’m starting to take calls from telemarketers.  Some of them are actually quite nice.  Jamar from Superior Life Insurance has a new baby.

 

My wife and I play this new game while we’re quarantined – – Why are you doing it that way?   I usually lose.

 

Just bought six pounds of cheese.  Won’t need toilet paper now.

 

My car probably thinks I’ve died.

 

Anyone else getting tan from the reading lamp?

 

I just got pulled over by the cops.  he said “I smell alcohol.”    I said, “That’s because you’re not respecting social distancing.”

 

(Editor’s note:  None of this is original from me.  I stole in from Mike Pinch.)

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Covid vaccine use full of politics

December 2nd, 2020 by Ken

When the new Covid 19 vaccine is finally in distribution there’s almost unanimous agreement that the first people to get the vaccine should be hospital workers and first responders.  They are the people at the front dealing with the impact of the virus.

Most will agree that  seniors in nursing homes and those who take care of them should be second in line for the vaccine.  After all, nursing home residents make up nearly 50 percent of all deaths from Covid 19.

But, who’s next?

You would think it would be all seniors over 65.  Or maybe those who deal with the public on a daily basis such as grocery clerks, waitresses and waiters.    But, because of politics, you’d be wrong.

The third in line to get the Covid 19 vaccine will probably be teachers.  Not because teachers get the virus any more often than you or I, but because teachers have a strong lobbying group called the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.  The teacher unions control the Democratic Party and right now, the Democrats control the presidency and the agencies which make the determination as to who should get the vaccine.

The unions want the teachers vaccinated and woe be unto any Democratic elected official who crosses the teachers union.  There’s no doubt that politics will play a major role in when you and I get the vaccine.

So, get in line, wait your designated turn and watch as decisions are made regarding distribution and use of the vaccine that seems to make no sense.  Just remember, it’s politics and politicians, who are  making the decisions about your health.

 

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