Letter to the Editor

'What is that aroma?'

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dear Editor

Rousing us out of sleep is sometimes difficult. Hard as that may be, it is easy compared to making us aware of dangers lurking in our midst. The human race has some obvious weaknesses. We often say, "That couldn't happen here!" We are too intelligent, too strong, too pure, to be caught in some destructive cycle. How many times have you heard someone say about dangerous behavior, "It will never happen to me, I know how to avoid (accidents, addiction, peer pressure)." It is my hope that you who read this will take seriously the danger in our midst. Read it carefully, consider each idea, find the truth, and tread carefully in the maze of decisions thrust upon us.

A phrase, often repeated, to alert someone to a danger is, "Wake up and smell the coffee!" Another, asking us to slow down and enjoy life is, "Wake up and smell the roses." The purpose of this letter is not about pleasant smells, In the last few weeks, politicians who represent us in Jefferson City, and Washington, D.C., have sent their ideas to the Daily Mail and have been reported, word for word, as sent. There are many who disagree but have not been heard. What is said here may be offensive to some. So be it. There are other sides to the story.

What is the smell that comes from these columns and other sources? I am reminded of two comments. One tells we are being treated like mushrooms. "We are being kept in the dark and fed horse manure." It has been reported that someone objected to Harry Truman's use of the word manure. As a farm boy, I know the smells and even the value of the term. When Bess Truman was asked to persuade Harry to "clean up" his language, she replied, "You must realize how long it has taken me to get him to use the word "manure."

The point of all this is to present a different viewpoint than you are hearing from some of our elected representatives. Who do you want representing you as laws are being passed that will affect our children for generations? Do you want someone who understands how you live, work, worship or do you want extremely wealthy individuals telling our legislators how laws should be written, for their benefit? Mr. Emery, on Friday, Aug. 16 issue of this paper is given 40 column inches of space to share propaganda (another name for the smell that permeates our land but is presented as high-minded ideas worthy of our great country) by a group that is working to promote individual wealth at the expense of the few of us that are not "filthy rich." That group, known as ALEC, (American Legislative Exchange Council) is underwritten by some of the wealthiest individuals in the world. Two brothers, listed among the wealthy, and others of similar power, invite legislators to plush hotels, free of cost, keep reporters and those who disagree with their actions, in the dark and from hearing their plans. The surprise, and evidence that Mr. Emery and others are not in on the secret agenda, is that he has reported the meeting to us. His statement of their vision, "To advance free markets, limited government, and federalism" sounds good but has different meaning when acted out. An attendee at a recent meeting points out they have been working behind the scenes to develop their plan and now are ready to put it into action. One sentence sums up their attitude. In regard to the need to amend constitutions to accomplish their work, the assertion was made, amendments are not necessary. Controlling the legislature can be done with money and we have that. The report mentions the group's effort to get model bills passed in state legislatures. Identical bills have been presented in several states. Fortunately, our governor has vetoed some of the extreme measures. My awareness of politics began in the days of the Great Depression, of the 1930s. How many of you remember those days? There is no perfect system of economics, government or other class for all must be administered by mankind. The human race messes up all institutions whether it be government, economic, education, etc. Even religious institutions are limited by the self-interests of all of us. The only remedy is to have checks and balances built into our society. Even at its best, failures occur until enough pain is created to bring about remedies. Do you want to go back to the glorious past of the 1930s?

Where was Vernon County's "Poor Farm?" Do you remember what it was like to have parents, who had worked hard all their lives, depend upon children, who also had little, for their support. Many counties in Missouri had farms to which those who had no support must move and live out their last days. Just 60 years ago, farmers were allowed to join in benefits derived from Social Security. How bad would the recent "recession/ depression" have been if we had no pension programs or Social Security? Another weakness of we humans is we don't like to save money. Instead we like our pleasures too well, then expect someone else to care for us. Yes, some government programs develop dependency attitudes. Does that mean we should not have a plan for those, who through no fault of their own, should not be helped?

ALEC has been behind many of the bills states have passed, or tried to pass to limit employment by government, reduce the power of unions, prevent regulation or even reduce anything that would add to the cost of production for goods. Minimum wages are opposed, benefits are reduced, regulations (wash out my mouth with soap for using such a bad word) are removed or written to allow companies to hire temporary workers (some as long as 10 years). Benefits are denied to those who work less than a certain number of hours, and behold, major companies use such practices to enhance their "bottom line." Rampant capitalism, lack of regulation were to blame for part of the Depression (1930 or 2005).

Some will say, "Unions have too much power." They must take their share of the blame, but give them credit due them. Lest you think I am strictly "pro-union," hear my story of an uncle who chose to work to feed his family of eight and was beaten, almost to death and possibly made dependent upon my aunt for basic care for years, by union "enforcers." Also, there are many enlightened companies who promote from within, treat their employees with respect and concern. Henry Ford believed in a "living wage" that would allow his workers to buy the cars they manufactured. Some wealthy persons speak for the powerless. Some politicians speak out against abuses and resist the high sounding phrases for the "common good." In spite of their efforts, wages have not kept pace with profits for large companies, financial interests, and growing wealth for a few. Company executives, as a class, averaged an income up to 250 times the average worker in their company just a few years ago. Now, that figure has gone above 500 times the pay of the average worker. More and more workers are forced to take lower paying jobs because companies have been allowed, some say encouraged, to move where wages and benefits were lower. Another question worthy of consideration, "What is a fair wage," or for that matter, "What is a fair wage or salary for anyone?"

This does not do justice to the problems addressed, but is an attempt to give a different viewpoint. There may even be some who choose to "defriend me" as they say on Facebook. If questions are raised, seek the answers, and if you want to visit with me about any of this, my friends are invited to meet with me in one of the local phone booths. Are there any left?

Lester Thornton