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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Leadership – part two

July 19th, 2019 by Ken

With so many people running for local political office this year, I felt it might be worthwhile to review some of the responsibilities of those who seek to be our community leaders.

It helps, if you understand how the community thinks and what it believes is important. It’s fine to bring your value system into public office, but it’s better if you incorporate the community’s value system as well.

As an elected community leader, you need to stop thinking like you always have. It’s no longer about you. It’s now about the community. Your future political goals should line up with those of the community.

While you will be required to help solve community problems, you should also keep one eye on the future. How do the actions I take today affect what others will face down the road? Quick solutions to today’s problems, often result in adverse impacts later.

In working towards the future, be sure to preserve the historic and artistic aspects that exist today. Communities need to understand their history, if they are to create goals for the future.

Now that you are a community leader, you need to act as one. Set an example in everything you do and say. Remember that people have a long memory and one spiteful comment or action will be remembered long after all of your good works are forgotten.

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Too much sky

July 17th, 2019 by Ken

It’s changed, this neighborhood of mine.  Gone are the tall Doug Firs which used to block out the sun.   Gone to the windstorms of November and the chain saws of urban foresters.

In their places are the dogwoods, the flowering plum, the Japanese Maple – – the people friendly trees with their splashes of Spring color.

Gone as well are the two bedroom houses with their one-car garages; replaced by the needs of growing families.  Now asphalt driveways go nowhere.  Garages have been turned into spare rooms and cars park on the streets.

Gone also are the blond-haired couple with their blond-haired children who lived next door.  Gone to new neighborhood with new houses on cul de sacs, with their three bedroom houses whose yards are guarded  at night by concrete lamp posts and little dogs that bark and yip.

Also gone are the neighbors on the other side who often proved that “Good Fences Do Make Good Neighbors.”

The family that lived directly across the street has moved on.  I saw their children grow from tots who rode their Big Wheels on the street, into teenagers who roared  up and down the road at all hours of the night.

The man who lived across the back fence is still there, but he has cut down decades old apple trees which used to hang over my fence.  Now, the only thing that separates my yard from his house is the view of his camper, covered most of the year by a blue tarp.

Just like people, neighborhoods change with time.  And just like people, change in a neighborhood isn’t necessarily bad.

New neighbors have moved in now.  They’re of two types – young and old.

The young ones bring enthusiasm, energy and young children; who again fill the streets with laughter and large smiles.

The older ones bring a sense of finality as though they’re settling in and aren’t  planning to move again.  They dig up old lawns, composed primarily of old grass and dandelions, and replace them with new grass, dark green and smelling sweet.  

They plant rhodies and roses and roots, and introduce themselves and offer to help when they see you outside working on a project they deem too much for one.

It’s changed this neighborhood of mine.  When I think of what’s gone, I think of what’s been added and say – this is a pretty good neighborhood.  Even if there is too much sky.

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Closing the marine terminal just another political tool

July 10th, 2019 by Ken

The race for Olympia Port Commission in the November election is between incumbent port commissioner Joe Downing and his challenger Helen Wheatley .

The race could also decide the future of the port’s Marine Terminal, the part of the port that ships exports and imports to and out of other countries, particularly in Asia. And the part of the port which creates the most controversy.

Critics of the port have complained for years that the marine terminal is a money loser. That it imports products that impact the environment, that supports military activities and is a vestige of old-style thinking.

Supporters of the marine terminal says it is now breaking even financially and will soon be in the black. That having a marine terminal is prestigious and an indication that Olympia is ready and open for business. Supporting the terminal are the longshoremen and their union and other pro-business groups which see a marine terminal is necessary if Olympia is retain its character as a working port.

Wheatley favors closing the marine terminal and is supported by E.J. Zita, the only current member of the Port of Olympia commission which favors closing the terminal. Downing has gone on record as supporting the terminal and is joined in that view by incumbent port commissioner Bill McGregor.

There is much more to the Port of Olympia than just the marine terminal. The port operates the Olympia Airport and has land and facilities in much of Thurston County. But the marine terminal is the most recognized difference between the two candidates running this year.

I favor closing the marine terminal, but that is not the only basis on which I will make a decision on who to vote for. We need diversity of backgrounds, diversity of opinions and diversity of skills and talents. Don’t use the marine terminal as your only reasons for voting for a candidate. Consider the big picture and know – Weyerhaeuser still has more than a decade left on its lease for its log dump. It will be quite a while and several new port commissioners before any serious action could possibly be taken to close down the marine terminal.

Until then its just another political tool to gain votes.

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What we celebrate

July 4th, 2019 by Ken

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature, and of nature’s god, entitle them

So begins the preamble to the Declaration of Independence – a day which we celebrate every Fourth of July.

The document goes on to say that – We hold these truths to be self-evident – that all men are created equal – and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights – that among these are – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

This document. which started a revolution, and brought about the creation of the United States of America, is often thought to have been written by Thomas Jefferson, when in actuality it was written by five men, chosen to lay out the reasons that the American colonies should separate from England. Jefferson was just one of five.

Others on that committee included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston.

Jefferson did write the first draft but it was heavily edited by the committee. The original statement written by Jefferson called for Life, liberty and property – – but was changed to Life, liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness because at that time, only property owners could vote and the committee wanted to make the declaration to apply to everyone, not just property owners.

It was approved by the Continental Congress on July 2 and sent to the printers to run off copies. It was made known to the public on July 4. The actual signing of the Declaration of Independence was on August 2.

That declaration was ignored in England. The English government later declared that anyone signing it were traitors and would be punished by death. Five of the signers were captured and hung as traitors. Nine fought and died in the revolution. Most of the rest suffered financial problems brought about by the war.

But, the drafting of the Declaration of Independence with its stirring words “All men are created equal” – drew the envy and wonderment of people everywhere.

It was a revolutionary concept which people have fought and died to protect – as the idea spread across the world.

That is what we honor this Fourth of July holiday.

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If you can keep it

July 1st, 2019 by Ken

As a child of the World War 2 veterans, I grew up in the time when American was the dominate power in the world.  And those of us who lived in this country believed it was our responsibility to spread our democracy and democratic ideals around the world.  We were going to re-build the world in our image.

Now, half a century later, this idea is under attack from several directions.  And, what we grew up to believe has been shattered by attacks from those who only cautiously accepted the belief of “the American Dream.”

We grew up with the myths of America.  The concept that immigrants came to this country,  learned our language worked hard , believed in education as the pathway to acceptance, and became naturalized American citizens.  By the third generation their children  were “American.”

The idea of American democracy  depended on everyone accepting the dream even if they hadn’t benefited from it. 

Now, that myth of the American dream is being pulled apart from dozens of different directions, by groups reminding us that they have still been left out of the dream.  Because of cultural, religious and racial biases in our society they hadn’t realized their fair share.  Groups that had been silent were now speaking out.   Despite the fact that most Americans – now –  recognize the inequities of our society and feel that major progress had been made in overcoming those  shortfalls; some members of those disadvantaged groups have a different opinion.

Blaming their lack of financial and social progress on “the establishment” they have taken over the Democratic party and are using their new power to push for more and greater government involvement in overcoming their lack of progress.

This new push to overthrow the democratic and representative government we currently have dates from the presidency of Barack Obama.  The election of the first black president of the United States was a signal, that power to change their status and condition came from the ballot box.   When their hand-picked successor was defeated in 2016, their anger over-flowed into rage and hatred.

Believing that democracy had failed them, they began flirting with socialism  or at least starting to look at socialist ideas.  Only through a new concept of government could their needs and wishes be fulfilled many thought.

Our form of government is a combination of democracy and republicanism.  The Founding Fathers were afraid of pure democracy because they knew that demigods can sway the masses by offering them bread and circuses.

So, they built in safeguards to assure that American democracy would not go the way of other revolutions.  Giving power to the states, creating a blind judiciary, creating two houses of elected representatives and establishing a presidency to oversee the implementations of that government.  Those they thought would assure that American democracy would continue.

Now that form of government is under attack by 23 presidential candidates and special interest groups of all kind.  Whether or not our present form of government can survive is in the hands of those who vote.

It’s not assured that we will survive in our current form.

After the constitutional convention created a new government for the new country, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a woman “What form of government do we have?”   Franklin replied, ” A democracy madam, if you can keep it.” 

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Society belittles fathers

June 19th, 2019 by Ken

We just celebrated one of the more obscure holidays of the year – – Father’s Day.  You only hear about it, when stores want to make sales.   It’s not like the better known and well-loved  – Mother’s Day.

Father’s Day was celebrated last weekend, but it always plays second-fiddle to Mother’s Day.  There’s something about mothers that make people oh and ad, particularly when they’re holding their new baby.

And, as he or she grows up, he or she becomes attached to mother.  But, that’s not often the case with fathers.

Something like 55 percent of all children born in the United States today are born to mothers who aren’t married – – and a large proportion of those are births to mothers with no father in sight. 

This has been going on for more than 30 years now – – bringing the idea that fathers are not necessary for the raising of children.

Oh, it’s nice when they’re around, but our society seems to think that we don’t need fathers to raise children.  Consequently the role of a father has been diminished and even a holiday dedicated to fathers means almost nothing.

As a father and a step-father, I always look forward to receiving a visit or a phone call from my five children.  They all did so this past weekend and I enjoyed every minute of it.  I feel loved and appreciated by my children all year long and I don’t need the extra attention on Fathers Day – – although I do enjoy it.’

But, I feel sorry for all those children who have no fathers and I feel sorry for all those fathers who have conceived children – then walked away.

There has to be extra guilt for society to let that happen.

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Iconic community restaurants help make Lacey

June 9th, 2019 by Ken

If it’s true that the Hawks Prairie Restaurant is soon going to be demolished, it is just a continuation of destruction of Lacey’s history.  Three restaurants added significantly to the area becoming the City of Lacey.

The first of these was Lee’s Restaurant, located on Martin Way.  It was the only full-service facility in the Lacey area for many years.  It had a restaurant, a cocktail lounge and a large meeting room.  Many local groups met at Lee’s including the Lacey Area Chamber of Commerce.

In addition, Lee’s had the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Washington state.  In the early 50’s, people would come from  all over to try this newest and latest trend in “fast food.”  To travel down from Seattle and Tacoma wasn’t unusual.

The original owner Lee Bensley sold the restaurant, which sat on US99.  When Interstate Five opened and took traffic off of Martin Way, the restaurant suffered hard times.  Opening of the Red Bull also added to the woes.  The building still stands and remains similar on the exterior.  It now sells motorcycles and similar products.

The second of the Iconic restaurants was the Red Bull.   Opened in 1966 when South Sound Center opened, it was originally called The Barb.  Sold to the McWain family, the Red Bull was a fell-service restaurant.  It had a coffee shop for mall shoppers, a full-sized restaurant, a cocktail lounge and a large meeting facility on the second floor.

Every major Lacey organization and many from Olympia, used the Red Bull’s meeting rooms. It was the heart of activities in the Lacey area.

The restaurant was eventually taken over by Bob Blume, the owner of South Sound Center and eventually sold.  Blume said at the time that he wasn’t in the restaurant business.  He also, apparently, wasn’t in the community building business either.  The restaurant was located in the general area of Target.

The Hawks Prairie Inn opened originally as an unofficial truck stop, with a quick shop store nearby.  For a decade, it was one of the few businesses in the Hawks Prairie area.  It had a full service restaurant, a cocktail lounge and meeting facilities.  Kiwanis, Lions and the chamber met at the facility.

Closure of these three restaurants were a significant impact on the Lacey community.  Ever community needs a meeting space at which the residents can meet, eat and make decision affecting them.. 

It’s also indicative of the difficulty owning, operating and running a privately owned restaurant can be in these times of quick food and quick service.

If it’s true, and I believe it is, then we will miss the Hawks Prairie Inn for personal, business and historic reasons.

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