Sorry Mark

I have found Facebook (now, I guess, Metaverse) in the past, at times helpful. It kept me in touch with a few old friends and it let me know folks were looking for some lost dogs. But I have deleted my account. You should too. Mark Zuckerberg has enough of our money. He’s one of the many billionaires, a new one is made every day. And I don’t remember sending him a dime. Maybe that’s how we get sucked into vile stuff. We swipe our card or click on “buy now” and they send an armored car to our bank.

It’s not armed security people robbing us, it’s more like the guys in Office Space who figured out how to round up the decimals and become millionaires. Back then, in the 1990’s, millionaires was a big as it got. Now we have a new billionaire every day. The worth of these folks (though it’s hard to consider someone with more wealth than I could accumulate in a lifetime as a “folk”) has more than doubled in the past year. And we, the sheep of the world, keep sending our money their way.

We just can’t see why they get the bucks and we lose it. They are so smart they can somehow tap into our measly median salary and then buy a rocket trip to space. All hail the job creators.

Do you happen to know what the median household income is in Idaho? If you ask Google (there’s some more rich guys who don’t charge you a penny) it’s about $56K. The same data mining site (who pays those guys to mine data?) tells us the AVERAGE (not median…remember high school statistics?) is $74K.

A little high school statistics reminder. The average is everybody added together, then you divide by all the people. The median is all the people lined up and you pick the guy in the middle. So here in Idaho, and in this country and the world, there’s a lot of us below average.

Do you happen to know what is calculated to be a living wage in Idaho? MIT has these calculations for you, but Google helped me find them and I didn’t have to send them any money. If you are a single adult with one child, or two adults, one working with one child, it’s right at $57K.

Back to high school statistics: half the folks in Idaho, if they have a child, are living at or below what is considered the living wage.

Some of these poor folks are spending too much money on their cell phone plans. Some should consider spending less on their car payments, and maybe trying to earn more. Maybe we should all be buying less beer. But it’s a good bet, here in this beautiful state, most of these folks either don’t vote, or vote Republican.

I sure wish it mattered.

And I don’t think Mark Zuckerberg will feel any pinch at all that I fled his Meta Morass. He’ll figure lots more ways to siphon off way too much money. Those “likes” and clicks and seconds you spend scrolling will go into their data mining machine and they’ll sell you to somebody who wants your profile.

Step off the carousel and walk around the park.

All the small-town local papers use Facebook in an attempt to drive folks their way. They require you to use Facebook, oops, MetaVerse, to comment or see their up-to-date postings. It may not cost them anything, it may be a service Facebook offers. Sorry, nothing is free.

I’m glad I’ve stepped away from the loud music and flashing lights. I think I’ll just walk around the park and say “hi” to the folks I meet.

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The Parting Glass

Tis the dark and wintry season. By the time you will read this, the days will have gotten as short as they will get, and the sun will be coming back. We have snow up here on the Palouse, though it has been a mild December until now. I haven’t worried about the antifreeze in the old truck once. But winter has just begun. There’s still time for bitter cold.

I love the old Irish tune, The Parting Glass. I first heard it in the University of Idaho Administration Auditorium. Josh Ritter gave a small concert there some years back for Moscow, his hometown. He sang this song as his last encore, acapella. The mournful tune and lilting words struck me.

The lines that tug my heart, besides the tune:

But since it falls unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all

It brings to mind my friends and colleagues who have gone, parted and cannot rise for the parting glass.

It has been a year where maybe we are getting used to more death amongst us.

We have seen more deaths this year on Idaho highways than in any of the previous 15 years. Idaho Department of Transportation indicates about 40% of deaths in 2020 were attributed to impaired drivers. Should we be getting used to this?

The opioid deaths continue. Over 100,000 Americans died from narcotic overdose in the 12-month period ending last April, up over 28% from the previous year. Idaho’s total won’t be finalized for a few months. Maybe we are doing better than other states at keeping our folks alive. Maybe not. I can’t get used to this.

Idaho saw a dip in our suicide deaths in 2021, at least when we had a count in August. The year before, 2020 Idaho had 430 suicides, a record. But the year end total has not been tallied. We can hope. I believe we can make some difference.

But then, there is the total number of deaths Idaho has seen this year, at a record rate. When tallied in November, Idaho’s death rate was 20% above what would be expected in a “normal” year for our current population, and there were two months left on the calendar to count.

Idaho has lost over 4000 citizens to COVID. Most elderly, many were nursing home residents, but some were young, even children, some even immunized, though the vast majority not. Should we be getting used to these losses?

But when you raise that parting glass, and wish joy to all, you can’t think of numbers, you remember faces and people and feel the loss; that we can rise, and they cannot.

When I think of their passing, that they cannot rise to hear my wish of joy and good cheer, I think of Jim, his sad smile, and more.

… of Sam with the sharp wit and more

… of Charley and his joy that he so happily shared and more

…Sande, so young, so wise and so much more

The list can grow long. It will grow longer as I age. Yours will too.

This is not to despair. It is but a simple truth. We live and we will die. But to live in joy and health our allotted years, is my parting glass wish to you, my neighbors. I work to this end daily.

So, raise your glass now and wish joy to your comrades, your loved ones your neighbors and friends. Our time grows short. Let us share it in joy.

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Marriage Counseling

Debbie Democrat and Ronnie Republican sat together on the couch in the counsellor’s office. They were both a bit nervous but were smiling.

“So, what brings you here today?” the gray-haired chubby man asked. His bushy eyebrows danced above and between his profuse ear hair.

Debbie offered, “We want to adopt a baby and the agency suggested we have your counsel, given our um, unique situation.”

The eyebrows danced again. “Unique?”

Ron rolled his eyes, but Debbie smiled. “They ask on the application forms for party affiliation now, you know, since our times can be so bitter. And it turns out we are, um, different.”

Here the eyebrows dived. “And just how are you two different, party wise?”

Ron smiled but his voice was biting. “Can’t you see, doc? I’m a Republican, and she’s a Democrat! It’s obvious to our friends.”

His eyebrows furrowed deeper, and he let out a long sigh. “And you want to bring a child into this tortured environment? Most the couples I meet with your problem are wanting a divorce.”

Ron snorted. “See Deb, I told you what he’d say.” Debbie smiled and laughed. Ron now sneered, “You snobs are all the same.”

Here the eyebrows shot up and his chubby cheeks flushed.

Debbie giggled and said softly to the counsellor “Don’t let him get to you. He tries to get everybody mad. That’s just his way.” She shot a hand over and squeezed Ronnie’s forearm. “We don’t know if he’s a snob, Ron.”

“Hell, I can see he’s a snob by those diplomas he’s got hangin’ there.”

The counsellor sat up straight. “I’ll let you know I attended-“

Debbie cut him off. “Ron is a journeyman plumber, and he would be a wonderful father. He can poke you buttons though if you let him.”

The eyebrows softened and he settled down again into his well cushioned chair. He took a breath and asked Deb, “And what do you do?”

“I work at the Public Radio station.”

The counsellor nodded and jotted a note. The eyebrows shot up and he looked at them both squarely. “Don’t you have arguments?”

Here Debbie flushed and Ron rolled the eyes again. “Of course we do. He doesn’t rinse the dishes before he puts them in the dishwasher and it dries me crazy. But what couple doesn’t?”

“I mean about politics. How can you share the same home?”

Ron took a deep breath. Debbie looked down at her hands. Ron started. “It’s like this doc. I know I’m right. And she thinks she’s right. And we talk about things, but we know, in the end we want to make a good home.”

Debbie added. “We understand that our differences aren’t as important as our love for our home and our marriage.”

The counsellor leaned forward. “Don’t you argue over the last election? Stolen? Insurrection? Voter fraud? Authoritarianism?”

Ron whirled over to Deb. “See, I told you, this jerk was just going to try to get us fighting!”

Debbie laughed. “Yeah, you did say that. Maybe he is.” And she turned to the counsellor with a twinkle. “You wouldn’t want to do that now would you?” The counsellor thought she might have winked at him.

Eyebrows cleared his throat. “It is critical that you both understand the enormous obstacles your child, should you proceed with this adoption, will face. We live in times where trust is broken, where the political parties are almost at war with each other. How can a child thrive in such an environment?”

Ron threw his head back and exhaled, like he did when the other guy made a tough shot on the eight ball. Debbie winced and her smile dropped to a straight line.

“Of course we know that doc. We don’t need you tellin’ us that.” Then he reached his hand out and touched Deb’s arm. “But this woman will be the best momma in the world.”

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The Heart of Idaho

When I was young, in my grade school days, my parents brought me and my sisters to the very western edge of this state. My grandfather’s ranch was just one ridge over from the Snake River, along the Wildhorse River. It is mountainous terrain, just south of the Seven Devils, all up and down. But there were benches here or there where they could put up a haystack or two of loose hay to sustain their small cattle herd through the winters. They made enough to pay off the property. I didn’t know how hard the existence was at that young age, but I do now. No one works that hard anymore. I don’t.

I came back to Idaho to live in 1977, though I didn’t know it at that time. I came to help my step grandmother survive on her parents’ homestead. Grandpa Henry had died from a stroke. It was a 110 acre “retirement” ranch with a half dozen horses, five or six cows, too many chickens. It had good water, no phone, no electricity, and a 3 and a half mile “driveway” that climbed 2000 feet from the end of the county road in the canyon below.

But I couldn’t live like that. I learned, painfully, that I needed to be around people. If I had been a true survivalist, a real “prepper” for the coming apocalypse, I might have relished that setting and its isolation.

So, I made the investment to be a small-town doctor, where I could tend to people’s ailments, their worries, their pains and maybe even their death, or the death of a loved one. And by joining a community, hearing their stories and their suffering, I found the heart of this state.

In those days I had no idea how big Idaho is. I thought the 3 ½ hour drive to the town of 500 where we got Jeep parts was big enough. But in my years since I have learned there are homesteads and canyons like Wildhorse throughout this leftover landscape.

So, when folks argue we need less of each other and more of just ourselves, I understand and agree with the sentiment, to an extent. But we still need each other. I thought I could do it all too, for a while. I figured out how to replace the clutch on the TD9 before there was a YouTube video for that. But when I popped the track off the crawler on the steep sidehill above the barn, I needed help.

Gerald came up from Midvale. After a hearty lunch that ended with cream and raspberries, he sidled up and told me how to get that track back on. Then he drove it down to level ground and showed me how to adjust the tension so it wouldn’t pop off again.

There is no doubt we humans need each other. Sure, we could all do better doing for ourselves, but we are here to help each other.

Government should not usurp self-reliance. I’m not sure it can. I hear from farmers getting government checks how folks need to pay their own way. University professors, with government grants, think they know all the answers. But that farmer and that professor both saw problems and looked around for a solution. The government aid they got hadn’t crippled them.

I saw a 47-year-old sheet rocker in the clinic today. He came to see me because a year ago I said I thought I could help him with his drinking. He can’t sleep at night now. He wakes up at 2AM thinking of the 11 relatives he has lost in the last year to Covid. His health insurance, Medicaid, paid the cost of the visit.

We need to help each other. In whatever way we can.

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Personal and Public Health

Idaho State Tuberculosis Hospital

I spent seven years trying to learn how to treat individual patients. The first few years were devoted to learning the anatomy, the pharmacology, the body systems, and their intimate connections. Then I got to work with patients. As a medical student, I was usually the fourth or fifth person to ask this poor wretch their history, their symptoms and then the last to ineptly examine their body and try to make my own conclusions about what was wrong and what needed to be done. Three more years of residency taught me to sleep when I could and manage my time while honing these patient evaluation and treatment skills.

Then, when I went out into the real world of clinic, community hospital and billing insurance the real education began.

All this training was focused on my individual treatment of the individual patient. I learned to do my best for my patient.

Something drew me (it’s a long and funny story) to be a county coroner. My training of anatomy, pathology and human behavior helped me a lot, but the deceased was not my patient (though sometimes they had been). I was working for the county, the public, the voters since I sought to be elected to this position. But those many investigations: the suicides, young and old, the poverty, the isolated mentally ill, the child deaths pulled me to look at the bigger picture of health.

I asked for some research from the state to understand where people in my county were dying. It turned out about 25% died in the hospital, about 25% at home or on a highway and about half the deaths in our county occurred in nursing homes. This was at a time (twenty years ago) when 80% of deaths nationally were in a hospital. It has now dropped to about 60%, yet almost 80% of people, when asked, say they would rather die at home.

I asked our hospital to study the deaths that occurred there. Of the deaths that were in the hospital, most came in with an acute event (stroke, heart attack, pneumonia) and were made better in a day or two, but then declined. Most the deaths had family in attendance and were accepted, supported.

These questions, and the answers I got made me feel pretty comfortable with our community care. All doctors want to reduce deaths, but we all know it is inevitable. When I was in training there was no such field as Palliative Care, though Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ book, On Death and Dying had been published many years before.

In the first three years in the coroner job, I had three dead children, killed by one of their parents. I spent a few years studying child abuse and how to prevent it. We instituted universal child death investigations and reviews for our county, back when Idaho was the only state that did not have such a policy. We developed a program to help new moms who might feel overwhelmed.

When a doctor sees a patient in the office, there is a clear expectation that the doctor is treating the patient. But the home (or lack of it); the family and friends (or their absence) often become part of the treatment concern. The circle of care often must be broadened to better understand the disease, and the treatment.

So, when public health departments started getting flak from the state legislature this last session, I wondered, just who the heck were they mad at? Who do you want making recommendations to policy makers about public health decisions?

I got my answer when The Ada County Commissioners chose their doctor for their public health board.

If you want some crazy treatment for what ails you, you have the freedom to shop around and find some doctor to support your whims. But public health is for everybody, not just those that agree with you.

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Waning means Forever

This graph from the CDC recognizes Idaho’s “unexpected deaths”. Those are deaths above the average death rate for the previous three years. Idaho has experienced deaths at a 20% higher rate in the last 9 months. Our current death toll (through September 2021) is above last years total deaths for the 12 months of 2020.

It seems the immunity provided by the Covid immunization diminishes over time. Now we are talking boosters.

So, does this mean the immunization is worthless? No, but that’s beside the point for vaccine deniers. The freedom to choose trumps consideration of risk, for themselves or their neighbors.

The vaccines greatly diminish the risk of hospitalization and death. In Idaho, in the last 6 months approximately 90% of hospitalized patients have been unimmunized. Similarly, the folks dead from this illness are mostly unimmunized. But as we are seeing that protection wanes.

So, the proudly immunized may soon be humbled by this painful biology. The arrogant unimmunized soon may be dead and not around to gloat over their “victory”.  What a silly fight.

This waning immunity makes sense if you’ve ever had a cold. Covid, the disease caused by the Corona SARS 2 virus is not just a cold, but it is from the category of viruses that cause colds, Corona viruses. Colds affect the upper respiratory tract, runny nose, cough, congestion, feel lousy for a few days, then go back to work. Covid can quickly get down into the lower respiratory tract, the lungs, and when they fill with fluid, you won’t be getting the oxygen you need to keep your organs alive. These are very different diseases even though from similar viruses.

Ingenious, huh? Makes you think…

So now that this virus is amongst us, we are trying to figure out how to prompt our immune systems to respond. That’s where immunizations come to play. Oh, and the mask mandates and isolation techniques are a part of figuring this out too.

We are also figuring out how to work these problems through politically and culturally. That might be the true test of our species, not our immune responses.

The fact that this virus usually just makes us mildly sick has trained our immune systems to lose their awareness for it over time. It is a perfect medium for now slowly killing a lot of us. And it is. About one in a thousand who contract the virus die from it.

Idaho, this great, wide, tall oddly shaped state has seen just that in the last year. Idaho deaths are 20% above what would be expected on “normal” years. Our death rate from Covid is a little above the one in a thousand, but not a lot.

None of you would spend much at the casino on 1:1000 odds. Does that mean you should walk around unimmunized? Only if you don’t trust the shot. And many in Idaho don’t.

So, the virus isn’t winning, it’s just making a dent. A twenty percent bump in death rate is acceptable, isn’t it? Since we have seen such a growth in statewide population, this just means there might be a parking space available, right?

Some are happy to gamble their 1:1000 odds and see no need to immunize. They mock the mask wearers and rail against any mandates. Those that have immunized resent the choice of the unimmunized and blame them for the ongoing waves of infection. Is this the way we are going to see our neighbors now?

The winning and losing question will be decided not by the death toll, but in what we as a community learn from this. The virus obviously learned, either in a bat or in a Chinese virology laboratory, how to make us sick and some of us die. And the virus is now learning how to infect faster and spread its genes farther.

If we as a country learn from this to distrust our neighbors and resent the choices they make, we soon won’t need a virus to be killing us.

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Governing or Grandstanding

I remember my high school football days fondly. I remember that first freshman football touchdown I made and as I circled across the endzone I flipped the ball to the back judge who had both hands in the air and the whistle in his mouth. He had to interrupt what he was doing to catch it. I apologized, then lined up for the extra point.

Nobody spiked the ball back then. We didn’t have dancing in the endzone or sack celebrations or first down jubilations. Any such demonstration would have been considered unseemly if not unsportsmanlike. It was about moving the football down the field with force and humility. I assure you we wore helmets, but it was 50 years ago.

But football and politics have changed over the years. We indeed did have a movie star as our governor in California then. And he went on to be a US President. Reagan really could deliver a line. I thought the Republican party brilliant for embracing his skills.

But politics and governing, though hopelessly entwined are separate skills. The brash word or offensive remark can harm one’s credibility in negotiations that are based on trust.

So, you just have to wonder whether our Idaho elected leaders are trying to govern or grandstand this week in Boise.

The legislature has its own style for endzone celebration. First, they made sure the game wasn’t over last spring, at the end of the longest session in their history when the House refused to adjourn and instead “recessed”. The Senate did adjourn, but they are taking the lead from the House, I guess since they are returning to Boise this week too. Whether any of this conforms with the Idaho Constitution is questionable but spiking the ball in the endzone wasn’t illegal until it was.

For what purpose do these prima donnas gather to spend our money at Boise watering holes? Er, I mean, convene at our Capitol?

The Senate says they want to make sure they are putting money into a legal fund to fight President Biden’s dubious vaccine mandates. It doesn’t matter I guess that the Idaho Attorney General has already joined many other states in such a lawsuit and that a federal judge has placed a stay on Biden’s executive order. They want to put taxpayer money into a fund to pay private attorneys. They must feel some sense of urgency since they actually could be doing this in January.

But the House (who never adjourned) are the ones calling the Senate back to do their bidding. Usually, the Idaho Senate doesn’t take orders from the House, but I guess times have changed. The even conservative and reserved Idaho House has teed up some thirty bills. And they could be about anything. We’ll find out as the week goes on.

If they chose to vote on anything, pass anything, and if our governor chooses to sign it, they will all be on shaky ground. As I said, they aren’t following the rules for their conduct laid out in the Idaho Constitution.

But grandstanding on the taxpayer dime is not the sole province of the legislative branch. Our executives, both the Governor and his Lieutenant, have reached into public coffers to fund trips where they hoped they could spike the ball. Both went to Mar A Lago to kiss the ring of our former President, hoping for his endorsement. Only the Lieutenant got the ball; Brad came up empty. And we get to pay for this.

I vote for people to represent me and work to make our state healthy. We got no real property tax relief last session, just a last-minute casserole that has crippled rapidly growing cities and not eased the annual tax bill from the county.

Next time you go to the polls, consider voting for an offensive lineman. They do the work and don’t dance in the end zone.

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Idaho Grows

The last anecdote about the rotten oak timbers was a story told by Stewart Brand, editor of the Whole Earth Catalogue, who said he heard it from Gregory Bateson. How’s that for sources?

I grew up in a small town that exploded, faster than Meridian or Caldwell has, and that experience shaped me. I decided I wanted to raise my children in a town that didn’t suffer from such booms. But neither did I want to have them feel the busts.

Idaho is booming now, and it has been for a while. Booms bring burdens. I was amazed to hear a Republican colleague stand up and say on the Idaho Senate floor what I had been thinking for quite a while. We had debated and passed quite a few probusiness and development tax schemes right after the 2008 economic collapse. The goal was to bring jobs and business to our state. Idaho had just cut school funding for the first time in its history and our reserve accounts were depleted. I felt that pain. Growth could solve this. But he stood up and said, “We are promoting growth in this state. I have plenty of constituents who like things just the way they are. What should I be saying to them?”

This last legislative session the senior Representative from the legislative district that has had the most growth proposed and got passed a property tax “solution” that tried to balance this growth conundrum.

House Bill 389 put a cap on what cities could raise their budgets at 8%, and only 5% from new construction. But what if a small city with 300 homes on the edge of Boise wants to add a development of 100 homes? This is happening right now. Housing down there is booming, and some folks have designed ideas that fit their needs and will serve the market. Believe me, the local folks who have worked on this development who now find it unsupportable by these legislative constraints are not happy.

And it’s happening in my town. A new manufacturing business with good jobs and great history will be looking for new employees, so three new 50 home developments are platted and scraping the soil.

We don’t have unlimited water up here on the Palouse. Don’t get me started on the traffic.

But the idea that the Idaho legislature has the solution for local growth problems is hubris. They might as well be suggesting we build a wall.

Growth happens, just as long as more humans are on this planet. It becomes a question of how and whether we should plan for it or not, since the planet won’t be getting any bigger. It should be up to local municipalities to manage their growth, not the whiz kids in the statehouse.

Many small Idaho towns right now are struggling with their infrastructure needs. Some have had to ship water in, others are seeing sewage plants condemned. And most of these small towns haven’t had growth. They drilled their wells and dug their sewage settlement ponds 50 years ago, paying for the expense with a bond. The interest on that loan was added to their monthly fees. They laid the pipes and charged their rates based on the maintenance and debt service, but with little account for eventual replacement. Now, the worn-out plant needs replacement, and the townspeople wonder why they should pay. They won’t get use of a plant after they die or move on.

We are not planning for sustainable growth.

A student in England’s old New College (est. 1379) was sitting around with his buddies in their eating hall and one commented on the old oak beams. “I’ll bet they’re rotten.” A penknife proved it. Where can you get 30-foot oak beams? Another thought of the campus forester.

The old lumberman puffed on his pipe and squinted. “Eating hall? Them oaks are out east.” And he led them to a grove planted and preserved for 300 years.

Boom and bust is no way to lead a state into the future, though, lord knows it’s sure our history.

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Last Straw

It seems some healthcare providers are walking away from their jobs to maintain their freedom. This story about the little hospital in Dayton, Washington is a tearjerker, but on point. The State of Washington has mandated that they be immunized against Covid 19. This is the last straw for some dedicated, long-time workers.

Maybe we should look at some of the other straws that are in the pile before we blame this last one for breaking the back. Healthcare, especially in rural towns can be a grind.

I have written before about all the other required immunizations in this profession. We must have the Hepatitis B series and are tested regularly for our immunity. There are also the tests for measles, mumps, rubella, Tuberculosis, and varicella. If you are not immune, you get the shot or you’re not working there anymore. Tests for HIV and Hepatitis C are also required by some employers. Most also require the annual flu vaccination. But I guess this Covid shot is the last straw.

There’s the requirement to follow the federal Health Care Privacy regulations, HIPPA. If you chat with your neighbor in the grocery store about the patient that you cared for that day in the hospital or nursing home, you just broke a federal law.

I was working in a small-town ER, talking with a crying woman about her situation when a man pulled the curtain back and said loudly, “Is Jenny in there?” I stepped out quickly to protect her privacy and asked him to come out in the hall. “I saw her rig out front and I was just wondering if she was OK.” He was upset that I could not confirm or deny if “Jenny” was there or of she was OK without her permission, and he’d just have to take a seat. “I’m just worried about her, I’m not prying!”

I could mention the long hours and frequent demands for more of your time that short-staffed small-town hospitals suffer. But that would get me to the lower pay rural providers get, and that would start to sound mercenary. Most the health care workers I know in small towns love their communities and the work they do. A living wage is all that they ask.

Nursing home workers know they are in one of the most regulated work environments. And their pay often comes in below the living wage. Most I know love their charges as they do their families. Even the ones, patients or family, that cuss at them. But it can be a burden.

But now, this Covid vaccination, portrayed by many in the media is so dangerous and evil, it has become a reason to fall on your sword. I can think of so many reasons to walk away. It’s hard to believe this vaccine mandate deserves all the blame. But we love to blame, don’t we?

It’s a noble thing to take a stand, and mandates, government regulations might just be the stand you want to take. Like paying your grazing fees was for Cliven Bundy. He’s a hero to some. But that would just start another argument and I’m not in the mood.

Folks are quitting their jobs all over the place. For some the childcare has become unavailable or unaffordable. For others the service job they used to have just hasn’t bounced back. But Idaho unemployment is 2.9%, one of the lowest in the nation. We have in fact, a labor shortage in Idaho.

Maybe some of those folks leaving their jobs in Washington because of that state vaccination mandate, will want to come to Idaho for work. They are welcome, I am sure. No mandates here to break your back. And we are still having our share of sick folks. Our number are down a bit, but with 800 new cases and 17 deaths a day, there’s plenty of work for you. Quite a business model, this pandemic.

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Revolution

CBS News

I first ran for the Idaho legislature in 2010. If you can take your memory back to those times you might remember the Tea Party angry crowds that were so outraged at Obama. They made their move to change our country through the electoral process. Indeed, that election they did dramatically change the House of Representatives.

I really didn’t understand it, maybe because I wasn’t a Republican and most of those angry folks were. I thought their discontent was out of proportion with the problems before us.

And nowadays, the Trump Republicans similarly have me perplexed. Maybe I just don’t see the possibilities.

Our founder’s some 200+ years ago thought they were creating a form of government that could, through a stable and predictable process, allow for dramatic change. Only, there wasn’t mass or social media in the late 1700’s. Their time frame was different than ours today.

Just what is the problem we must rebel against?

Go out on a corner in whatever town you live on. See the nice new pickups, the all-wheel drive rigs going by and the folks chatting on their cell phones or snapping pictures of everything that catches their eye so they can post and share. We live in a time of comfort and wealth. But that does not mean we are free of injustice or oppression.

 We see revolutions these days in third world countries with corrupt dictators, grinding poverty and huge wealth gaps and their attempts to overthrow their oppressors makes sense. But revolution when we all have streaming Netflix on our cell phones? Why rebel when we have comfort?

But, according to historian David McCullough, so did the American revolutionaries. He stated in his book 1776, that the standard of living for the American colonists was the highest in the world at that time. We were quickly populating a land taken from the natives and applying our agricultural and industrial technologies to create a wealthy society. And the call for “Liberty” from an oppressor king garnered many to take up arms.

So why not today?  

My reluctance might be based in my faith in our founders’ vision. They believed that we could be a nation of laws, and that these laws could be changed to match our changing cultural needs. I believe they had great misgivings about the institution of slavery that fueled their economic wealth. I doubt they thought we would need to have a civil war to change such an institution. But they did avoid the subject when drafting our Declaration of Independence. Remember, “Life Liberty and Property” got changed to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” to avoid that discussion.

The war was fought, and the laws changed. Most other countries abolished slavery without a civil war. But 100 years after our revolution, we could not reconcile our differences without bloodshed.

So here we are, almost 250 years after this representative democracy was crafted and just what oppression are we moved to shed blood over?

I think of those who stormed our Capitol on January 6th, 2021. They were not the oppressed poor, or the disenfranchised minorities. They were the, by in large, angry white middle class who wanted a different president than the Congress was about to ratify. They felt oppressed by our system. Representative democracy is not a king, born to rule. It is merely a system of government devised by some wealthy, learned, white men 250 years ago. Many were slave holders, owning land claimed from displaced native populations who did not share the concept of owning the land they walked upon. Does their vision now oppress?

Should we now take up arms and rebel and drive off this government that oppresses us? Or should we work to make this government serve us, as was the concept of our founders? The latter, believe it or not, is the truly conservative value. Conservatives embrace conservation; radicals choose rebellion.

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