Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Theft of Honor

One of the things that crosses my mind as I work with people is how often the idea of honor is forgotten in relationships of any kind. Marriages especially require us to honor and respect each other, but outside of marriages, the idea of treating others with dignity and respect seems to be at an all time low. What has happened? Human beings, no matter who we are have value and in that understanding, it is important to treat each other well.
When you go to the grocery store or to Costco, how often does it cross our minds to ask someone who is emptying out their cart if we can take it back in for them...especially if we are heading in that direction? Little things, which don't cost us much can mean a lot to another person. In marriage relationships I hear it all the time..."It isn't the big things, its the little things that matter". Those little things are the things we do for each other that make us feel as if we are important or respected or honored by another person. Saying please and thank you, asking rather than telling, smiling and don't freak out anyone...opening a door for another person.
Manners don't cost us anything, but they express volumes to the people in our lives who mean something to us. If you wouldn't treat your boss in a certain way, why would you treat your wife, husband or children in a way that is hurtful or disrespectful? Honestly, if we made even the smallest effort to be kind to one another we could make significant changes in our homes, our schools and our communities. I loved the whole "random acts of kindness" thing when it was going around and I really believe in those things. However, it means more when we treat our families with kindness.
Could I challenge you today? For the next week, do something at least once a day to be kind to someone you love. It doesn't have to be flamboyant....tell them they have a beautiful smile or they look especially nice today. Pick a flower from your garden and give it to your neighbor across the street or to the person who makes your coffee at the drive up. It's a great thing to do and it also makes you feel good! If you see a veteran at the restaurant you are having lunch at, buy their lunch or their coffee, just to say thank you.
If we pay kindness forward, it will eventually get back to us!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The American Taxpayer - a bottomless pit

My brother in law is a political consultant in SW Washington and I often read his blog about what is going on in Clark County. He recently posted an article about how the county commissioners are refusing to put an advisory vote on the ballot in November regarding the rebuilding of a toll bridge across the river from Vancouver to Portland. Any of us who have driven down I-5, heading to Oregon or California would be affected by this, so you might want to take notice. If this project goes through, a new toll would be imposed upon anyone using that bridge. Undoubtedly it will effect the local community much more than anyone who lives elsewhere, but it should make people sit up and take notice as to the mentality of our leadership on all levels. When I lived in Eastern Washington it made little sense to me to have to pay taxes to support the ferry system that exists to support transportation on the West Coast, which I never used more than perhaps once a year. Then, when I did use it, I had to pay to use it....what's wrong with that picture?

It consistently amazes me how people in government believe that the American tax payer is a bottomless source of revenue. Leadership from Obama on down seems to think that we don't have anything else to do with our money than pay taxes with it. So, my question would be this: If we give a good majority of our money to paying for healthcare, income tax, estate tax, city and county taxes, bridge tolls, ferry taxes etc...then how much of our money do we retain so that we can support local businesses....those entities that employ our family, friends and neighbors?

I used to own a convenience store when I lived in Eastern Washington and it was very clear to me that there was only a certain amount of disposable income floating around our community. When there was a large event, such as the fair, a concert, a big car show etc, sales always went down because the people were not spending their money in my store, they were spending it at these events. They didn't have money to spend both places. So...logically the same would hold true for taxes or toll bridges or whatever. If the government is going to take money out of our pockets long term, it is definitely going to affect local business. There just won't be enough disposable income to go around. We'll stop purchasing newspapers, buy less clothing...the non-essentials will go out the window, businesses will close and people will move away, trying to find a job or a better paying one.

Then what happens when the city, county or state needs funds for repair of legitimate projects like roads and other infrastructure? They go to the taxpayer, but there are less employees, people have moved to a more tax friendly Idaho for example. There are less funds available. Doesn't anyone get this? Taxes depress the economy....start looking at ways to help our economy thrive, put more money in our pockets. It's pretty simple economics guys! I own my own business right now and could see myself expanding in the future, but because of the tax situation and all the changes in government, I'm not going to do it. I'll stay the way I am rather than take on more of a financial burden.... so there are one or two or three jobs that won't be created because of the hostile financial situation that is being created by the Feds. State and local governments are foolish to increase tax burdens or impose additional fees in this kind of climate. People just can't bear the burden.

In all reality, an advisory vote in Clark County would send a clear statement about what the people want. In not doing so, it is also clear that these governmental leaders would rather stay in a place of denial. In my line of work, I see many people who would rather stay in that state than face the truth. That's a risky place to be.....

People aren't stupid...we know what is needed and what isn't. Just look and see when the last levy wasn't passed for the Fire Department, Paramedics and Police departments. If people see value, they will spend the money. That should speak volumes.

On the bulletin board above my desk I have this sign:

"Denial is the devil's dessert after a meal of your soul."

It is always a choice to stay in denial, but it often produces nasty consequences if you stay there too long.

If you have an opinion about this, I would encourage you to write to Marc Boldt, who is a Clark County Commissioner at Visitors to the Vancouver/Portland area bring revenue to that area by staying over night, eating at the restaurants etc. Considering there are other ways to get across the river than the I-5 bridge, the county commissioners may want to hear from those of us who live outside of SW Washington and who may just want to navigate around this area on our travels.