I am not sad to see 2011 take its place in history. It has not been an especially good year for me. Death took a brother and a good friend and softball buddy. My mother broke her femur. My son was deployed to Iraq.
As the year ends, my mom is getting around pretty well for a 90-year-old. My son is home from Iraq with no visible wounds. I’m gradually getting over the loss of my brother Mike and my friend Dave Eastman.
I begin 2012 with six beautiful, healthy grandchildren and the finest wife on the planet. Entercom is a good company to work for, and I still enjoy broadcasting.
2012 will be a busy year, politically … and I predict a nasty presidential campaign. The Republicans have a chance, if they pick the right candidate and hit the notes that will attract the Independents. If the economy begins to gain momentum and the unemployment rate continues to drop, President Obama is going to be really difficult to beat.
Our thought for today is from me:
“I wish you a safe, healthy, prosperous, and happy New Year!”
Want to measure Americans’ mood? Go to the gas pump.
When the average American sees gasoline prices go up, he realizes he has less money for other necessities and entertainment. Combine higher gas prices with the average American’s stagnant pay and rising health care costs, and the family budget takes a beating!
This year a typical family spent $4,155 filling up … 8.4% of what the median family takes in. It’s the highest share of the family budget since 1981.
When gas prices drop, it puts billions of dollars into Americans’ pockets … which they either spend or save.
I don’t advocate artificial controls on gas prices, though I think we should look at speculation in the crude oil market’s impact on the prices we all pay.
The impact of gasoline prices is much less for the wealthy … and for our rulers in Washington. They don’t feel any pain at all.
Our thought for today is from William Ellery Channing:
“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”
Kansas government officials are upset with Boeing right now. First the company said it was studying its future in Wichita, and may pull its defense operation out of the city. Then Congressman Mike Pompeo announced Boeing will NOT build the new Air Force refueling tanker in Wichita, but in Washington state.
Kansas lawmakers had lobbied hard for Boeing to get the tanker contract, so that 7,500 new jobs could be created in Wichita. Looks as if that won’t happen … and more than 2,000 current Boeing jobs in Wichita may disappear.
This community has lived and died with the aircraft industry as long as I can remember. Wichita has “boomed” and “busted” every few years, but we’ve always built airplanes here. Will we continue to call ourselves The Air Capitol?
Corporations will do what they think makes sense for their business plans and their shareholders. It’s called free market capitalism … and it can be a pretty tough game.
Our thought for today is from John Marshall:
“The corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.”
Last week by a 4-to-3 margin the Wichita City Council struck a blow for the Second Amendment and Kansas law by approving concealed firearms at 111 of the City’s 392 facilities. Whether that “blow” was necessary is another story.
There seems to be plenty of anxiety over what might happen if some crazed, unlicensed gun-toter started blasting away in a city facility. Hasn’t ever happened, but doggone it … it could! And we’ve got to have someone there to stop it … should it happen.
Of course, gun accidentsdo happen occasionally … even for people with firearm experience. And if a public shoot-out should occur, there’s a good chance some innocent bystander or two might take a slug. If the idea is to make people feel safer, they’ve failed … with this citizen, anyway.
But our elected officials and others will be safe for the weekly city council meetings. Just try to get your shootin’ iron into City Hall and see what happens. They even take away Swiss Army knives.
Our thought for today is from Eddie Izzard:
“The National Rifle Association says ‘Guns don’t kill people. People do’. But I think the gun helps.”
Christmas! by Steve McIntosh,posted Dec 23 2011 3:24AM
Everybody celebrates Christmas. We get hooked when we’re young on the whole Santa Claus thing … then grow up to learn that this is a time of the year to spend a lot of money on bright, shiny stuff that we would not ordinarily purchase. It’s fun … and it allows us to please others with our always-considerate, just-the-right gift.
There are also family gatherings, great food, and melancholy memories of loved ones and Christmases past.
Somewhere in all of that, many of us find the true meaning of the holiday … the celebration of Emmanuel … “God with man” … the birth of Christ. God gave us the greatest gift of all … we Christians believe … and that’s why we give special gifts to others at Christmas … and try to remember that we ought to treat our fellow humans with respect, even if we can’t muster up much love.
After all, as the song says, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year”.
Our thought for today is from all of us here at K-N-S-S to you and yours:
At the time of his death last week, Kim Jong-il held top positions in the Communist Party and the government of North Korea. In April 2009, North Korea’s constitution was amended to refer to him implicitly as the “Supreme Leader”. (Looks like an amendment may be in order) He was also referred to as “Dear Leader”, “our Father”, and “the General”.
Whatever he was called, Kim was a dictator who had held the reins of power of the North Korean government since the early eighties. He persecuted his people and sought … and received … the world’s attention by becoming a nuclear power. North Korea has been a growing nuclear threat for several years. Kim also commanded the fourth-largest standing army in the world.
I doubt many will mourn the passing of this weird, unbalanced little man. We can hope that the Korean people will fare better under Kim’s son, or whatever kind of government is to come. The world is watching …
Our thought for today is from Michael Pritchard:
“No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather.”
Wichita Public Works and Utilities Director Alan King has asked the city council for $200,000 to hire a consultant to help solve problems with water bills. King says citizens often complain that their bills are confusing and charges are inaccurate.
Is this a solution looking for a problem?
My water bill seems pretty simple. I can easily find how much I need to pay and the deadline for that payment. Frankly, I don’t care how many gallons I’m using every month … but watch for any big variations from one month to the next. There have been none.
If the bill really needs to be redesigned and simplified, isn’t there someone, or may be a group of two or three employees in the water department who can tackle the problem? It should be fairly simple to draft a few possible new water bill designs and present them to the city council.
To some of us, $200,000 is stilla lot of money.
Our thought for today is from Scott Adams (who draws the Dilbert cartoons):
“Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll buy a funny hat. Talk to a hungry man about fish, and you’re a consultant.”
There is a national debate over “rich people” and whether they are taxed fairly compared to those who are not rich. But how do we define “rich”?
Gallup recently polled more than a thousand American adults. Says Gallup: “Americans say they would need to earn a median of $150,000 a year to consider themselves rich. However, 30% say less than $100,000 would be enough, including 18% who would consider themselves rich if they made less than $60,000 a year. On the other hand, 15% say they would need to earn at least one million dollars a year before thinking of themselves as rich”.
A similar poll in 2003 put the median rich income lower, at $120,000 a year.
A separate question asked how much net worth … or savings in cash, stocks, real estate, and other investments … they would need to consider themselves rich. The median figure was one million dollars … the same as in the 2003 survey. 14% said five million or more net worth would be rich … while 13% would consider themselves rich with net worth less than $100,000.
Our thought for today is from Benjamin Franklin:
“If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.”
Last Monday the Wichita Board of Education adopted dress code guidelines for administrators in the schools, which includes principals but not teachers. These are only guidelines … expressing that blue jeans, cargo pants, T-shirts, tank tops, tennis shoes, flip-flops, cleavage, ‘visible undergarments’, and piercings are not appropriate.
Of course, in my day we had dress codes for students … which included hair and skirts that were not too long. When I was a student at Hadley Junior High and Wichita West, the principals wore jackets and ties every day … as did many of the teachers. A history teacher at West was fond of tweeds and conservative ties. He was one of the best-dressed men I knew.
On game days, athletes also wore jackets and ties. It was supposed to make us feel professional, special.
I think it’s an educator’s duty to impart more than information and knowledge to students. Educators need to set good examples … in comportment, attitude, dress, and grooming.
Our thought for today is from Mark Twain:
“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”
Let us assume … for a moment … that all the people elected to national office were once hard-working employees and employers in the private sector. Would they be able to take those on-the-job skills into their public employment by the American people?
After listening to more campaign rhetoric from both sides of the national debate, I have concluded that no one in national politics has the maturity and work ethic needed to succeed in real-life employment.
In the private workplace, if there is a problem, the affected workers can get together, present their views, and suggest solutions. The people in charge can take the responsibility for the performance that will solve the problem. To as great a degree as possible, personal opinions and childish language are both discouraged and ignored.
Rudeness and laziness have no place on the job in the business world.
I have very serious doubts that the president and members of Congress have a clue as to how real work is done.
Our thought for today is from Robert Frost:
“The world is full of willing people, some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.”
The Wichita Eagle’s Roy Wenzl is an excellent story teller. Last Sunday he published another good one … about Immanuel “Manny” Thompson … who nearly flunked out of middle school … avoided gang recruiters … and graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree at Wichita State University.
Thompson’s neighbor in northeast Wichita – Johnny Papin – got Manny involved in boxing and taught him a few things about life … all with the blessings of Manny’s mother, Brenda.
At the age of 23, Immanuel Thompson is a college graduate who wants to be a law enforcement officer. He is a professional boxer. He’s also done modeling work, with his photo seen in Cosmopolitan.
Here’s a kid who is not from the nicest neighborhood in town, no father around, ‘at risk’ in every sense of the term. But a strong mother and a male mentor helped him reach for the stars.
Roy Wenzl: great story! You ought to send it to Newt Gingrich and anybody else who thinks all poor kids don’t know how to work for what they get.
Our thought for today is from Harold Taylor:
“The roots of true achievement lie in the will to become the best that you can become.”
As more and more wealth flows into fewer hands, the American middle class seems about to disappear … hammered by higher prices for the essentials of life, while take-home pay remains stagnant or even drops. The middle class is essential to our economy because the more people spending and saving money stimulates business and creates jobs.
So I agree with President Obama’s recent speech in Osawatomie: the middle class is struggling. But is the only remedy higher income taxes for the wealthy?
Why not consider a seriously lower corporate income tax? Instead of the highest corporate tax in the world, maybe the U-S-A should have the lowest. We should also seriously consider new, fair income tax rates and a possible national sales tax to raise needed revenue.
We still need action to curb run-away health care costs and adjust entitlements … their pay-ins and pay-outs. It seems to me those measures could help our middle class thrive again.
Our thought for today is from Frank Herbert:
“The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action.”
Former U-S Senator Alan Simpson doesn’t pull any punches, which is why he’s always been my kind of conservative. When the congressional deficit reduction committee tanked, Simpson and his co-chairman of President Obama’s deficit committee – Erskine Bowles – called the politicians “wholly irresponsible”.
Simpson said he believes people perceive what many in Congress won’t admit: the nation needs tax hikes and spending cuts to have any hope of crawling out from under the debt nearing the $15 trillion mark. Simpson said any possible solution demands reining in health care costs and ending subsidized benefits for wealthy people.
Meanwhile, Simpson blasted lobbying groups on both sides of the issue, including the A-A-R-P for opposing any proposals to cut benefits to seniors. He also criticized many fellow Republican politicians who have signed a pledge never to support a net increase in taxes.
Keep talking, Mr. Simpson and Mr. Bowles, but I’m not sure anybody in Washington is paying attention. They still don’t get it.
Our thought for today is from Edward Abbey:
“One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain’t nothin’ can beat teamwork.”
Recently, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich commented that child labor laws are “truly stupid” … and that children in poor neighborhoods have “no habits of working” … nor getting paid for their endeavors “unless it’s illegal”. Gingrich said really poor children living in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and nobody around them who works.
Later Gingrich backed off … saying he meant people living in urban housing projects.
His comments support the stereotype that people are poor simply because they have no good work habits. But I know people who are wealthy who have no work habits at all. To say that our culture always rewards hard work with accumulated wealth is an idiotic concept.
Mr. Gingrich should have been more specific, but he still paints with too broad a brush … which looks a lot like “class warfare”.
Our thought for today is from Don Marquis:
“When a man tells you he got rich through hard work, ask him ‘whose?’”
We got a good look at how the recession has impacted Sedgwick County, with the recent release of Census estimates.
Median household incomes in the county fell 2.8% between 2007 and 2010, while the number of residents living in poverty rose from 13% to 15.3%.
State-wide, the median household income rose by 2.1% … while the number of Kansans living in poverty rose by 2.2% … to just under 66,900 people.
From 2008 to 2010 … a more recent look … Sedgwick County median household income fell 7.1% … to $45,996 … nearly 19-hundred dollars less than the state-wide figure … and over $4,000 less than the national median income.
So, the past two years have been especially tough on Sedgwick County, when compared to the rest of Kansas and the nation on average. Charities have been working hard to meet greater demand for their services.
Our thought for today is from James Baldwin:
“Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck – but, most of all, endurance.”
Herman Cain offered Americans a good story of a self-made man … a man who had done well in business … and man with solid conservative credentials. But he couldn’t get past the hot glare the media shines on front runners. I’m not sure anyone escapes from that glare completely unburned. How clean do we want our presidents to be?
Candidates who’ve been in politics for a while always have a record. They concentrate on points in their records that they believe will attract voters, while their opponents hammer away at past views and accuse them of flip-flopping. I wonder why we demand squeaky clean candidates who never change their minds.
The next president faces some big challenges, not the least of which is the economy. Can we find some one with solid ideas about facing our nation’s problems … and with the leadership ability to get the people on board … and convince other politicians of all stripes that they need to help?
Our thought for today is from William Arthur Wood:
“Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.”
It was the last time the American people were truly united … with a common goal … and an easily-identifiable foe. After September 11th we were united in sorrow and anger … but the enemy was a shady group of people, not a sovereign nation we could easily find and attack. The response to 9/11 was confusing and in some cases misdirected and misguided.
Our unity began to fragment when it became apparent that no quick victory was forthcoming.
On December 7th, 1941, Japanese military forces attacked our ships and people at Pearl Harbor. We knew who and where the enemy was and within a short time demonstrated what can happen when our people are motivated, determined, and well-led. It may have been that a majority of Americans did not support U-S involvement in the war in Europe or the Pacific … until the surprise attack on that Sunday morning.
We led the successful destruction of the Axis powers and emerged as the strongest nation on the planet.
Today I remember Pearl Harbor … and what a truly united America is capable of doing.
Our thought for today is from Franklin D. Roosevelt:
“As Americans, we go forward, in the service of our country, by the will of God.”
It truly is a small world. Just ask listeners of the Steve & Ted in the Morning Show … in Greece!
My wife’s sister – Tara – moved from Texas to Greece a couple of years ago. Only recently did Tara and her husband – George – receive an Internet connection.
Last week I arrived at the radio station, did all of my morning show preparation, and even voiced a couple of short items. Then my voice left me completely. Ted Woodward and Jad Chambers took over the Steve & Ted Show. I’d done my necessary chores for the day, so I left.
Shortly after I arrived home, my wife and I got a call from Tara in Greece! She wanted to know if everything was alright since she hadn’t heard me on the Steve & Ted in the Morning Show. Tara’s been listening to the show on her computer. She says she likes to catch up on the news in Kansas.
Shelley and I are planning to visit Tara and George in Greece some day. For the time being, we are connected daily by the world-wide web.
Our thought for today is from Marshall McLuhan:
“The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village.”
Soon the bulk of U.S. military personnel will be out of Iraq. I wish the Iraqi people well.
I opposed our nation’s invasion of Iraq from the beginning … not because I had any love for its dictator, but because I never bought the Bush administration’s approval of taking military action against another nation based on the possibility that they might have weapons of mass destruction. That is simply not sufficient justification for putting our people in harm’s way, and the death and destruction rained on the Iraqi people.
Nine years later Sadam Hussein is dead and Iraq has a shaky, violence-threatened government. 45-hundred Americans have died and the U.S. has added a trillion dollars to our national debt. The Bush administration predicted it would not be “building” a nation and the cost would be 60 billion dollars.
My son is back in the states after a partial military deployment to Iraq. It appears he will not be asked to return. If so, it will be a happy ending to what I believe was a tragic foreign policy mistake.
Our thought for today is from Ambrose Bierce:
“To be positive: To be mistaken at the top of one’s voice.”
Sunday I celebrate another birthday … though at my age, “celebrate” may not be the most appropriate verb. It seems these annual events are showing up more rapidly than in the past, which is impossible, I know.
My grandchildren have parties every birthday. And all the kids they know seem to have parties every year. I don’t know how those parents can afford it. Seems like they’re buying gifts for kids all the time.
I can only remember two birthday parties for me; one when I turned 40 … (or was it 30?) … and then a terrific surprise party when I turned 60.
I think aging has made me a little wiser … better aware of what is truly important in life, and what I shouldn’t worry about. I’d like to think I’ve become more patient with the passing years. I’ve tried to better tolerate change, which seems to come at lightning speed some times.
I don’t know what else to say. I’m in good health, have a wonderful wife and family, and I still enjoy my work. 62 isn’t so bad, I guess.
Our thought for today is from Sam Levenson:
“It was on my fifth birthday that Papa put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Remember, my son, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.’”
The good thing about social media is that everyone in the world knows your business. The bad thing about social media is that everyone in the world knows your business … and they know it real quick!
On a school-sponsored trip to Topeka, Shawnee Mission East student Emma Sullivan tweeted “Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked in person/heblowsalot”. Sullivan later said she had made no such comment and was “just joking with friends”.
Somebody on Governor Brownback’s staff saw the tweet and notified Sullivan’s principal, who ordered Sullivan to write letters of apology.
Governor Brownback did the right thing – I believe – when he said his staff “overreacted”, and stood up for freedom of expression. He also said something about “civility and decorum”. Did you hear that part, Emma?
Sullivan will not be asked to write apology letters.
This could be a so-called “learning moment” for all of us.
Our thought for today is from George Bernard Shaw:
“An American has no sense of privacy. He does not know what it means. There is no such thing in the country.”