Trump’s foreign policy agenda

October 18th, 2019 by Ken

President Donald Trump has announced his foreign policy agenda.  Bring the troops home. The president pointed out, that many of the trouble spots around the world have been trouble spots for centuries.  “We are not the world’s policeman,” he said.

The United States has military stationed in dozens of countries around the world, most  are remnants  of World War Two and the Cold War.  These “policemen” cost the United States billions of dollars every year.  Trump, ever the businessman, looks at the bottom line and says – we don’t need to spend this money.  Let other countries contribute and we’ll back off of our commitments.

Our country has gone through periods of Isolationism before.  No foreign entanglements has often been the watchword.   And, most Americans supported keeping out of Europe and the world’s affairs.  Before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the majority of Americans favored remaining neutral in World War Two.

America assumed its role as the world’s policeman after that war, when we were the only country in the world, not significantly touched by conflict on its soil.  We were the dominate power, with the exception of the Soviet Union.  The burden was thrust upon us to protect the rest of the world from the evils of totalitarianism   and we took it as a crusade.

We fought hot wars – Korea and Vietnam; and we fought hundreds of smaller wars in many forms, often with others doing the fighting and us providing the money and logistical support.

With the decline of the Soviet Union, the call came to withdraw from some of our policing charges.  Then came 9-11 and the War on Terror – and the rise of China as a challenge to our world dominance.

We’ve been fighting the war of terror for 18 years.  We have, for the most part, avoided another 9-11, but we haven’t stopped the religious overtones of additional conflicts.

The Turks and the Kurds have been at war with each other for more than a century.   The Hindus and Muslims have been fighting for longer than that in India.  Religious extermination  has reared its head in Myanmar, China and all across the African continent.

Trumps call for retrenchment and “America First” has a nice ring to it.

But, history has shown us, that isolationism is often seen as weakness.  And, those who wish to dominate, see weakness as an opportunity.

President Trump has been successful in his efforts to bring attention to the problem of stolen intellectual property and has gone to a trade war with the guilty parties.

As a businessman, he sees the world in terms of dollars, and the wars he wages are fought in the  worldwide economic battlefield.   He doesn’t seem to understand the need for human policemen to protect that economic battlefield.

Trump is right.  We can’t go on fighting the war on terror the way we are currently fighting it.  But, he’s wrong.  We can’t just pull out from of Cold War commitments, without something to take its place.

That’s where the discussion needs to head.  How do we fight religious intolerance, economic blackmail. civil wars and terrorism in the 21st Century.

If he hasn’t done anything else, President Trump has forced us to face the reality of America’s place in the new world order.

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Sometimes right does triumph

October 14th, 2019 by Ken

Every once in awhile, the ant does move the rubber tree plant, the ram does punch a hole in the dam, and Lenny Greenstein wins a battle in the Lacey City Council.

Last week the Lacey council decided not to adopt a resolution opposed to Initiative 976, Tim Eyman’s latest move to limit car tab taxes to $30.  City council after city council, around the entire western portion of Washington, had been coming out in opposition to the initiative.  Even the Olympia City Council opted to join the fray and oppose the state measure.

Lacey was all set to follow suit.  It had been adopting resolutions in favor or opposed to state initiatives for decades.  Former councilmember Ann Burgman, had opposed the city doing such a thing.  “We shouldn’t be telling the residents of Lacey how to vote, on a measure they will be voting on,” Burgman had said.  She went on to say that individually councilmembers could support or oppose a state initiative, but they shouldn’t speak for all residents of Lacey.  That’s up to the voters to decide.  Burgman always voted no.

When Lenny Greenstein joined the city council about eight years ago.  He took up the battle.  He too was opposed to the city endorsing or opposing state initiatives. And he has held that position, even on initiatives he supported.  He was always on the losing side. So, when the Lacey council put the item on its agenda, Greenstein held out little hope.  Andy Ryder, the city’s mayor, had four votes in his pocket and could push through any item he wanted.  Ryder wanted to oppose Eyman’s initiative.

After public testimony, (which is required if the council is to take a vote), the mayor called for the question.   Greenstein abstained, so did Jason Hearn, who usually agreed that the council shouldn’t take a position.  But, joining them this time was Lynda Zeman, the newest member of the council and who is seeking her first elective office.

Ryder slammed down his gavel, said the motion passed and started to move on.  Greenstein called his attention to the fact that only three votes were in favor.  It takes four.  One of Ryder’s votes, was not in attendance.  Michael Steadman was not present for the meeting.

The motion failed.  The City of Lacey would not be in opposition to Initiative 976.

Greenstein’s actions were so unusual that he was interviewed on KIRO radio.

Sometimes it pays to keep beating your head on the wall until someone listens.

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Has Tim Eyman gone too far this time?

October 11th, 2019 by Ken

Has Tim Eyman  and his initiative 976 gone too far this time?   Three of the largest tech companies in Seattle are funding the anti-campaign and the Washington State Patrol and the Washington State Department of Transportation seem to be providing staff and information to defeat “Tim Eymans 976”.

So, has Tim Eyman gone too far this time?   Nah

Eyman sees the inequities of the current taxing system.   He sees how bureaucrats can twist and fold obscure regulations to garner more taxes from Washington residents.  He hears the anger of the people as transportation projects double and triple from the estimated costs and knows those running the project knew it before the projects  even started.

The measure is simple.  It would repeal, reduce and remove authority to impose certain vehicle fees and limits motor vehicle license to $30 and base other vehicle taxes on Kelley Blue Book value.

It’s impact is significant.   In its first year it would cost state and local transportation agencies about $176 million in revenue.  That would increase to about $300 million for the next six years.  Eyman has directed his anger at Sound Transit which has walked over the taxpayers, spent billions of dollars and still has billions of dollars more of transit projects to go.  Its funding mechanism isn’t fair and King and Snohomish taxpayers know it.  But the transit system has refused to budge in its efforts to garner more taxpayer money.

The three largest tech companies in Seattle are funding television commercials touting the impact on bridges across the state and using scare tactics with real state patrol and state transportation officials.  That’s walking a fine line of using state funds to oppose a taxpayer initiative.

This may be Tim Eyman last gasp.  His string has almost run out.  Using his name in the anti-commercials seems like a good idea, since Eyman’s reputation is shot following his shoplifting charge in Lacey.

But, don’t shoot the messenger.  Somehow this use and misuse of taxpayer money needs to stop.  So far, Eyman is the only one who shines a light on the amount of money being spent and the illegal way the government gets it.  Vote for or against the initiative because of its merits, not because its being funded by Tim Eyman and his supporters.


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Interviewing the candidates

October 7th, 2019 by Ken

The local voters guide will be in your home mail shortly, and soon you will be deluged with campaign literature.  The campaign signs are up and you may even have had the opportunity to meet some of the candidates when they came to your house looking for your vote.

I have interviewed most of the candidates running for office in Lacey and Olympia.  Many of them are newbies with a head full of ideas and no understanding of how to get them through the process.

Others are by now, professional politicians, who engage in “political speak”  who understand the problems and fill the room with idea after idea of what they will do when re-elected.

But, I’m convinced, that everyone of them has their community at heart and wants to do a good job.  I’ve sensed almost no self-serving among those whom I have interviewed.

Having recently run for election myself, I understand how difficult it is to get your ideas out.  The platforms for doing so are few.  The Thurston County Chamber and the Lacey chamber have had some candidate forums.  A few local service clubs have done the same.  The League of Women Voters has interviewed most of the candidates.

I have tried to be non-partisan in my interviewing process.  Click on Coffee With Ken and you will be able to access all of the interviews to date.   I still have a few left to go before election day.

I did not do Tumwater races and most school board or special purpose district races because I did not have the time (air time) available.  I did have one candidate refuse to appear because she was told by her supporters, not to.

But most of the local candidates are listed below.  Take time and listen to those interviews.  It will tell you far more than caned speeches and two minute responses.

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Odds and Ends

September 30th, 2019 by Ken

I’ve been paying a little more attention to the Port of Olympia operations as the general election grows nearer.  Recently the port took out an advertisement in the Thurston County Chamber publication touting the money it has given to local community projects.  Those financial “investments” caught my eye.  The port’s stated goal is economic development, but I’m not certain that some of the projects it funded fall into that category.  For example, it gave $70,000 to the renovation of the historic Oddfellows building in Bucoda.  Another $10,000 for wider sidewalks and landscaping in Rainier.  It’s helping Tumwater develop a preservation and management plan for endangered species and it’s helping the Squaxin tribe develop a historical and educational self-guided waking tour of the Billy Frank Jr. park and trail.  The port’s definition of “economic development” is a little different than mine.

The Olympian circulation continues its decline.  As required by law, the paper published its statement of ownership, management and circulation the first week in October.  Total paid circulation for The Olympian is 9,353, a slight decrease from last year.  It also lists 2,318 paid on-line only subscribers.  What I found more interesting was its annual subscription price.  It was listed as $1,300.   That’s more than twice what an annual subscription goes for to The Wall Street Journal. 

While taking the ferry back from Victoria this past weekend, I noted a bus full of men pull up and get on the ferry.  I asked a border guard who they were.  He said they were workers from Italy who were going to the states to work in a shipping yard.  I was surprised to see the importation of workers through Canada into the United States who were working in West Coast shipping construction.  We usually look at workers coming in from Mexico.  Perhaps our economy is so good that we need to bring in foreign workers – – but from Canada?


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20 or more shades of gray

September 21st, 2019 by Ken

They say it’s a land without shadows

A place of perpetual gray

Where the oceans and  trees, the land and the seas

Merge in a monochrome haze

But it’s not a land without color

As all those who live here would say

It’s full of spectacular auras

And 20 or more shades of gray

There’s the color that comes in the morning

When the sun peaks under the gray

That turns the mountain tops yellow

And puts a pink tint on the bay

There’s the light that comes in the evening

As the sun dies slowly away

That illuminates all of the colors

Of the 20 or more shades of gray

There’s the gray mist that nests at the treetop

That hides the green tips of the firs

And transforms the gray that surrounds them

 Into a green misty type blur

Or the black clouds that hit in the winter

When the storms come in off the waves

Whose twisting cauldron of colors

Merge the 20 or more shades of gray

There’s a blue gray that softens in daytime

As the sun burns down through the clouds

Creating a few rays of sunshine

Which nourish the gathering crowds

It may be a land without shadows

As many who live here would say

But it’s truly a place filled with color

With its 20 or more shades of gray

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Enrollment drop bites Evergreen

September 18th, 2019 by Ken

Enrollment  at The Evergreen State College continues its decline, which since 2009 has plagued the college.   From a high of 5000 students that year, its enrollment has dropped to 3000 in 2019. 

What’s more frightening is the decrease in the number of new freshman entering each year.  In 2016, some 1239 new freshman called Evergreen home.  That dropped to 1159 in 2017, and took a precipitous drop in 2018 with only 764 new freshman enrolled.  While all enrollment isn’t fully counted for this year, it looks like less than 700 will enter in 2019.

All liberal arts college across the country have felt the pressure of fewer and fewer students opting for a liberal education.  In the last quarter century, of the 500 liberal arts colleges in the United States, nearly half of them have closed their doors or merged with other colleges.

The decline in liberal arts enrollment has been gradual as more and more students (and their parents) want a college degree which will give them better job opportunities than a liberal arts degree.  The Great Recession of 2008 had a significant impact on liberal arts enrollment.

Evergreen’s major enrollment gap in 2018 was part of that restructure of educational goals, but was also harmed by the negative publicity it received from its inability to control its student body and educators.

If enrollment continues to drop at Evergreen, it will have to look at closing its doors, or merging with another educational institution.  Washington State University has been showing some interest.

As a measuring stick, enrollment at St. Martin’s University is up 30 percent this coming year over last year.

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Balsley’s laws of consulting

September 17th, 2019 by Ken

Advice is worth what you pay for it.

Free advice is worth nothing.

The more they pay for it, the more they appreciate it.

Out of town consultants are always worth more.

You can’t spend too much time with a client.  It’s the way to find out what they really want – – and you can always charge them for the time.

Find out what they want and give it to them.

It’s always better to get your money up front.

A reasonable retainer guarantees a long term relationship.

Drafting an employment contract is the hardest work you’ll do.

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School shooting rage starts early

September 13th, 2019 by Ken

The student was disruptive in the classroom.  He yelled, screamed, threw things, turned over desks and threaten further violence.  The school teacher stood there, unable to do anything at all.

It’s not that he didn’t want to.  It’s that school policy forbid him to interfere.  He couldn’t be sent out of the room because that would imply to the student that he wasn’t wanted.  The teacher, of course, couldn’t touch him in any way.  Not even to protect the classroom.

The teacher had to call the office and have someone come and take charge of the situation.  After the student was confronted and calmed down, he was admitted back into the classroom.

In a short time, it happened again.  This time with a little more violence.  Again the teacher had to stand aside and wait until someone came from the office.  And, again the student was re-admitted. The student could not be kicked out of school

The child was in First Grade.

In a new book about the Parkland School shooting, it was pointed out that the shooter had been having similar problems of control all of his life.  From the time he was in elementary school, through middle school and into high school, the shooter was continually disruptive and often threatened violence.  The paperwork on his life ran into hundreds of pages.

And yet, the school district was unable to do anything about it.  The shooter later killed several students. 

The above story, with the First Grader, actually happened in the North Thurston school district at one of the district’s elementary schools.

New school district policies weighs strongly on the rights of the disruptive student and gives little regards to the safety of others in the classroom.

I’m not saying that this First Grader will turn out to be a school shooter.  It’s just that the need of society trumps the individual rights in our school classrooms.  The school district should take a second look at its policies.

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Where do you get your local news?

September 3rd, 2019 by Ken

Never thought I’d miss The Olympian.  For decades I detested the paper for its negatives  – bias for Olympia, anti-Lacey, every liberal cause that came along, and haughty, with it’s “We’re too good for you” attitude.

But as time has progressed, I miss the paper.  With its 22 reporters and coverage of every local jurisdiction, it kept us informed.  Slanted perhaps, but informed nevertheless. 

We also had other local sources of news.   At one time KGY AM had three reporters who kept us up to the minute with local news.  Other local publications and newspapers also put their spin on the news – – The Lacey Leader and The Olympia News were two weekly newspapers that had their fling at covering the news.

The fact of the matter is, we have no local news coverage now.   I’m not talking about cable news with its fascination of Donald Trump.   I’m not talking about the Seattle television stations where the first five news stories are death, destruction and destitution.  Or The Seattle Times which focuses on similar stories.

I’m talking about local news.  Who’s covering our three city governments?  Who’s keeping tabs on our county government?  Who’s watching the school districts as they continue to spend more and more money?  Who’s looking at the actions of LOTT, Intercity Transit, Medic One – – all of the regional governments which have such impact on our community?

Almost no one is the answer.

The technological revolution has made our old ways of gathering and disseminating the news – – non-profitable.  You can’t make any money doing it anymore.

Today, we rely on local news, from those who make the local news. Every local city government has a newsletter and a Facebook page.  Every major regional body has similar means of communicating.  Those means of course are biased in favor of government action.  Most of the city council and county commission meetings are also broadcast on local television.  But, what happens behind the scenes?  What happens when the camera is turned off?  What decisions are made before the cameras are even turned on?

And ill-informed public is an ignorant public.  And the public is often asked to make decisions on issues and candidates on which they have biased information, or no information at all.

That had always been the responsibility of the local news media.  To inform and educate. 

We don’t have that anymore.

The Olympian still limps along with just three reporters, and what news they pick up they often get from other sources.  No local radio station does local news anymore – they can’t afford to.

We have local boggers, who write about local government.  But their writings are more often opinion pieces and not hard news.  Thurston Talk does a good job of telling stories about local people and businesses, but it has no hard news section.

We are ignorant.   We rely on word of mouth, conversations with friends, opinionated blogs and Facebook posts.

No community can exist very long when its citizens are ignorant. 

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Global warming not human caused

August 29th, 2019 by Ken

Thurston Regional Planning Council is currently engaged in gaining public opinion on its Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan.

I recently went on line and completed the survey – – to the best of my ability.  It was tough answering questions designed to elicit a particular response wanted by the TRPC staff.

Anyone who completes the survey is just confirming the fact that global warming is a human-made problem and can be solved by human activities. 

I think that’s wrong.  Global climate change has been occurring periodically over the last 5 billion years of earth’s existence .  Human’s were not on this planet for most of that time.

Scientist say that the earth is warmer now than it has been in the last hundred years that records have been kept.  And that the only answer to the warming is human activity.  If that’s the case – – and I doubt it – – how do they account for the hundreds of times earth’s climate has changed in the past.  A hundred years of data on earth’s climate is not even a miniscule amount of time.

I believe that climate change is real.  I believe that it is a normal occurrence  that has happened many times in the past.   I don’t believe that human activity accounts for a significant portion of global warming.   And, I don’t believe there is anything significant that humans can do to stop or slow down the warming.

We’re just fooling ourselves if we think  we have that power to cause the problem or solve the problem.

I would suggest that we spend our time and money on planning how we’re going to live with a warmer earth and begin the process of doing something constructive, instead of wasting time and money on trying to stop a problem we haven’t created and can’t solve.

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Brazil is doing what others have done

August 27th, 2019 by Ken

All this fuss by environmental groups about the fires in Brazil have missed the major point.

It’s the way developing nations become developed nations.   It happened all over the world and it happened right here in the United States.

At one time, North America was covered with hardwood forests from the sand of the Atlantic Ocean to the banks of the Mississippi.  Forests so dense that roads were almost impossible to build.  Trees so thick and tall that they blocked out the sun for thousands of miles.

And yet, settlers in those areas, cut the trees, for houses, for firewood and for clearing land for growing crops.  The trees had to go if food was to grow to feed the growing population.  Trees were even cut and shipped to Europe who had cut down all of its trees, centuries before.

Lets not forget that Native American tribes also set fire to the trees, to clear land to plant corn.

In Brazil, most of the fires are being set by farmers and settlers, trying to clear the jungle so they too can raise crops and animals to feed the country’s increasing population.  In many cases, the land had previously been set afire and the new fires were to burn off what brush had grown since the last fire.

There was no one around in the 17th and 18th Century who complained that cutting the hardwood forests of America would severely impact the air that we breathed.

The point.  If environmentalists are to complain about farmers clearing land to raise cattle and grow food, then they have no concept of history.

The only way developing countries can become developed countries, is by taking advantage of the natural environment around them.  All of the countries of Europe did it, the United States did it and Brazil should be supported in its efforts to feed, cloth and house its people.

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Jay Inslee is no Dan Evans

August 23rd, 2019 by Ken

Who does Jay Inslee think he is? Dan Evans?

The former congressman, presidential candidate and current governor says he is quitting the presidential race to run for a third term as governor of Washington.

But he’s no Dan Evans. For those who remember, the liberal Republican served for three terms as governor of our state, the only person to ever have done so.

Many other governors have toyed with the idea of seeking a third term, but always backed off. Only Evans ventured out and was successful. He left office, served as president of The Evergreen State College, then ran and was elected as United States Senator.

Inslee has not been good for Washington residents and taxpayers. For the last eight years, he has been helped by a healthy economy and the lack of challenges to his job, either from Republicans or Democrats in his own party. He has also been helped by a Democratic state house and senate.

During his time in office, taxes have increased substantially to pay for his liberal causes, while traffic grinds to a halt and city streets are filled with the drug addicted and mentally ill.

It would be almost impossible for a Republican to unseat him, but someone from his own party might.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson has been making the rounds, talking with groups and putting himself out as a possible gubernatorial candidate, should Inslee not run. Maybe it’s time for Ferguson to bite the bullet and challenge Inslee. There is still plenty of time.

Inslee is not Dan Evans, and he’s beatable, but only by a Democrat.

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No surprise over college educated women

August 22nd, 2019 by Ken

The fact that there are now more women college graduates in the workforce, than men, should come as no surprise to those who have followed demographic trends for a while.

For the last decade, there have been more women in college than men. Women currently comprise 57 percent of all college students, and in some occupations – – law and medicine – – make up more than 60 percent of those enrolled.

The reason is very simple. Since the 1970’s, women have been encouraged and supported in their search for economic freedom and that comes through education. Women support groups in this effort abound across the country. In most cases, men are on their own.

The educational system from elementary school through college, is slanted towards women. Men are slowly being pushed aside.

Is this bad? Not really. Is it unfair? Perhaps, but then pay back is often unfair. Is it good for the country? Probably not. We need both genders educated and contributing. Women’s movement into college and into the work force is a fact of life. We just need to be aware of the fallout.

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Trump right to be concerned about Greenland

August 16th, 2019 by Ken

President Donald Trump is right to eye Greenland as a potential site for increased American presence.

The president raised the issue of buying Greenland from Denmark recently.  It is a wise move and the correct decision.

Whether the president was joking, was looking for a way to enhance his historical image, or was serious.  Greenland is the next step in the new Cold War with Russia and China.

As Global Warming heats up the Arctic and ice continues to melt at a rapid pace;  those who control the waters have a step up on the future.  Right now the Arctic Ocean is open and ice free during the summer for ships to journey between Europe and North America.  As warming continues, it will be open for shipping all year-round.

The Russians have been aware of the future potential strategic use of the Arctic and have established bases in their northern lands on the Arctic Ocean.  Just recently, China tried to buy land in Greenland to establish air fields (military bases).

Just a look at the world  globe and it’s easy to see the significance of Greenland to the future of the Arctic Ocean and the world.

Greenland is owned by Denmark, and a significant portion of Denmark’s  revenue goes to support Greenland.  And, while it may not want to sell any portion of the “island” it may well want to lease it.

The President was right.  Let’s look at Greenland, see what we can negotiate with Denmark and lets prepare for the future as the globe continues to warm.  That may well be, the highlight of Trump’s presidency.

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Why housing costs are so high

August 14th, 2019 by Ken

Having spent a good part of my life covering government and government policies, I can say with a great deal of confidence, that government has played a significant role in the high cost of housing.

It looks like it has done so on three different tracks; zoning rules, government requirements, and the elimination of non-standard housing.  I’ll try cover all three tracks with my limited knowledge.

When state and local government began planning for growth in the early 70’s, they weren’t concerned about the downstream impacts of their decisions.   Zoning made some pieces of property more valuable and other pieces less valuable.  They were unable to see that restricting development in the rural areas would make the property less valuable, and make property in urban areas more expensive.  These decisions were part of the reason the cost of housing has increased substantially.

Over the decades, since, the term “make growth pay for growth” has resulted in tens of thousands of dollars of added cost to a single family home.  It isn’t the developer or the builder who pays these increased costs – – it’s the home buyer.

In addition, regulations and rules, designed to make houses, safer, energy efficient, attractive and good neighbors has also resulted in increased costs for those buying homes.  Recently the City of Olympia’s requirement that all new single-family homes must have fire sprinklers, has added about $10,000 additional dollars to the cost of a new home.

In the 1970’s, along with the idea and the concept of zoning, government began the process of eliminating all sub-standard housing within its jurisdictions.  Hundreds, if not thousands of homes, not meeting rules regarding safety, were eliminated.  Trailer parks, with their low income housing, were zoned out of existence, or forced out by government redevelopment.

While government is the largest contributor to the cost of housing in our area, other factors also played a part.  Continued in-migration from California and other parts of urban Washington has played a part.  Housing costs seem cheap to them compared to where they came from and they are willing to bid a little more for their housing, thus driving up the cost of available stock.

Federal and state rules regarding labor has caused an increase in building costs and makes new construction even more expensive than it needs to be.

All of these factors are reasons that housing costs in our community has increased substantially and will continue to rise as land gets scarce and demand increases. 

And as long as government sees the need to protect us from living in sub-standard housing we’ll see blue tarps and undrivable RV’s.

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Everyone looks like Americans

August 12th, 2019 by Ken

I recently had the opportunity to visit one of North America’s prime vacation spot. It was filled with tourists from all over the world. They were speaking several different languages, but one thing I noticed – – they all looked like Americans.

That’s right. At of the top tourist attractions in the world, everyone looked like Americans. They spoke Spanish, Japanese, Korean, German and other dialects and languages, but everyone of them looked like an American.

We are truly a magnificent country. A country of immigrants. A country where everyone belongs. A country composed of people from all over the world.

A six-foot blond male would look out of place in Japan, but not in the United States, A short Asian woman would look out of place in Germany, but not in America. We are a country that represents the world.

We have more poles in Chicago than they do in Warsaw. We have more Jews in New York than they do in most of Israel. We have thousand of enclaves all the round the country,

It’s that ethnic diversity that separates us from the rest of the world.

We haven’t always treated our immigrants fairly. We brought hundreds of thousands of Africans to our country against their will.

We first welcomed Chinese immigration to work on the railroads and then we ran them out of every major city of the West Coast. Now, cities brag about their Chinatown.

We heaped scorn on the Irish, for their religion, looking at them as if they were trash. Now, everyone is proud of his/her Irish heritage.

We looked with horror on the Eastern European migration at the turn of the 20th Century. At the Poles, the Slavs, the Russians and the Italians who came. They came is such great numbers that we thought they’d never assimilate. Now, they are us and ethnic names abound in our society.

During World War II we put West Coast Japanese, many of them American citizens, into relocation camps. Now, many of those same Japanese families are looked up to for their quiet suffering.

Following the wars in Korea and later Vietnam, thousands of our allies and their families moved to the United States. The Gulf War and the wars in the Middle East, brought other war victims, many of them practicing their religion and settling in our cities.

Now, we are experiencing migrations from our south, from Mexico and Central American communities. People looking for a better life and a chance to also experience the American dream – – and assimilation.

America is a nation of immigrant. And, while it is not always easy and change is seldom encouraged, it has made our country the envy of the world.

And, everyone who comes here, looks as we do. They all look like Americans. Take a look around.

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How to lie

August 5th, 2019 by Ken

Right in the middle of political season (which seems to last all year long now), I’ve determined what makes a good lie.

It’s a fact of life that we all lie – every single one of us. Some of us do it so often that we don’t really think about it. Others do it so infrequently they can even remember the first lie they’ve ever told. But, all of us lie.

We lie for many reasons. Some of us life to make ourselves feel better. Some of us lie to make others feel better. Some of us lie to avoid embarrassment or to avoid being held responsible. Some of us lie, just because it seems like a good idea.

So, if we all lie, then do I have a deal for you. I’ve developed a program called “Five Elements of a Good Lie.” Follow this program and you’ll never have to worry about being caught in a lie.

First – Does the lie have an element of truth? In order for a lie to be believable it has to have some connection to the truth. You can’t say the ski is falling and have people believe it. But, if something is falling from the sky – like an old satellite – then you can say, the sky is falling.

Second – The lie must be believable. You can’t say you’ve climbed Mt. Everest if you’ve never climbed a mountain. But, if you have climbed Mt. Rainier, then you can probably say that you’ve also climbed Mt. Everest and people may believe you.

Third – Can you remember it? – That’s often the hardest part about a lie. Law enforcement often catch people in a lie because they can’t remember the lie they told. The simpler the lie, the easier to remember. Or, tell the same lie so often, that you’ve fooled your brain into believing its real. A lot of politicians do this.

Fourth – Does it make someone feel better? We often call this a White lie – as opposed to a Black lie (I guess). A white lie is a good lie because it makes someone feel better. We do it all of the time. We tell someone we like their haircut, when we don’t. We tell someone they look good in that outfit – when they don’t. We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, so we lie.

Fifth – Is it deniable? Can you say – “I never said that” to have people conclude that you would never do something like that. (Remember Bill Clinton.)

So, we all lie. But if we do it right then no one will know – or care. All politicians running for public office are free to download this column.

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Denny Heck isn’t who you think he is

July 28th, 2019 by Ken

Denny Heck isn’t who you think he is. Our Democratic Congressman from the Tenth  District represents the urban area of Thurston County and parts of Pierce County.

Many of my conservative friends have supported Denny because they see him as business-friendly and less radical than most of his party. Hell – I even like Denny, but for different reasons.

However, recently, he joined the choir of the more radical members of the Democratic Congressional delegation and called for the beginning of impeachment efforts against President Donald Trump.

I understand why he did. It has everything to do with being re-elected in 2020. Denny understands that some areas of Thurston County are more radical than he is. He is afraid that some far-left radical Democrat will mount a primary challenge and perhaps beat him. No elected official wants to lose. And, no elected official wants to lose in a primary election because he failed to understand party politics.

Denny is a consummate politician. He has been involved in politics since he was a college student. He understands how to play the game. If all it takes to stop a challenge from the radical fringe of his party is to come out for impeachment of the president – – then that’s what he’s going to do.

So, my more conservative friends. Keep this in mind in 2020 when Heck is running for re-election. If he was really business-friendly, he would embrace Trump’s business agenda and support efforts to keep jobs in this country and reject calls for a $15 minimum wage (which has been the death knoll for many local restaurants.)

But, then again. He has to get the nomination of his party – and he has to bow to the radical social agenda just to keep his job.

After all – he is a politician first and foremost.


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Can humans really be happy?

July 24th, 2019 by Ken

Is it true that human beings can never be happy?  Is it true, that no matter how much we say we want happiness, and no matter how hard we search for happiness – – that we can never be truly be happy?

There is no part of the human brain that contains the “happiness” center.  There is no genetic link between human beings and the ability to be happy.

It follows, that happiness is a “made up ideal” fostered on humans, as a means to keep them searching for the unknown ability to be happy, and keep them from attaining such a state, while exercising physical and mental effort that uses their time and energy.

It’s stated in our Declaration of Independence that all people are endowed with the right of happiness.  Never mind that the word was added in rewrite to limit the right of property ownership.

Why can’t people be really happy?

Goals, objectives, dreams, hopes, desires – – all get in the way of individual happiness.  For every goal we reach, another takes it place.  For every dream we have, the next night brings a new one.  Our hopes and desires can never be fulfilled. If we meet them, then we begin hoping for the next step. If we don’t get what we desire we are disappointed. We’re never satisfied.

As we near the end of our lives, many people say they have found happiness in the small things.  A soft rocker, a good books, a brilliant sunset, a grandchild’s smile. 

But, they don’t have happiness.  What they have is contentment.    They have given up on attaining happiness and are using what mental, emotional and physical abilities they have to be content with their place in society.

You may rage against the coming of the light, but you’ll never find happiness.

Contentment is about as happy as we’re ever going to be.

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