Posts Tagged ‘Rainier Valley’

From the Editor’s Perch…

January 12, 2014

Lady Gaga2

Fashion

 

            In the book, Fascism versus Capitalism, Llwellyn Rockwell Jr. mentions the Harvard philosopher, Santayana’s observation “that ideas aren’t usually abandoned because they have been refuted; they are abandoned when they become unfashionable.”  Most people reading this who have tried to introduce an unfashionable notion probably have suffered this observation.  You either find yourself socially isolated.   Or you are made to feel as if you are speaking in a foreign tongue, as if, as a woman at a theater rehearsal once told me (regarding my thoughts):  “I feel as if I am talking to someone from the moon.”  Thoughts judged to be unfashionable are simply left to die alone while conversing to the backs and sides of heads, and thence to float away, detached and withered, into the cold outer reaches.

The most dramatic example I’ve run across of this phenomenon is from the same book as mentioned above.  Henry Hazlitt was an editorial writer for the New York Times from 1934 till 1945 who backed a return to the gold standard.  He was finally sacked for his editorials in opposition to the Breton Woods agreement of 1945 establishing the World Bank.   Hazlitt wrote: “it would be difficult to think of a more serious threat to world stability and full production than the continual prospect of a uniform world inflation to which the politicians of every country would be so easily tempted.”  Throughout his tenure, no one, as far as can be seen, joined him in his warnings.  He could not even generate a credible opposition.  His opposition around the Breton Woods agreement ignored him, claiming a world catastrophe if the measure were not passed.

History has proved Henry Hazlitt correct.  And millions of lives perhaps need not have been lost to the devastations of WWII if the advent of rampant inflation had not been there to fuel the rise of fascist philosophies.  But no matter.  WWII did occur.  The Times has never apologized.  (Don’t hold your breath!)  And Henry Hazlitt lost his job.  John Maynard Keynes ideas appeared to be new.  Henry Hazlitt’s appeared to be old.  To be included in a current conversation you must be perceived to be ‘new’ – otherwise, the argument goes, why have one?   Though there was no factual basis of incompetence for firing Henry Hazlitt, by 1945 the Times publisher,  Arthur Sulzberger, “had had enough.”  “When 43 governments sign an agreement, I don’t see how the Times can any longer combat this,” he said.

 

“How important is sound money?  The whole of civilization depends on it,” says Llewellyn Rockwell.  Nevertheless, fashion trumps it.

 

            If these anecdotes don’t arouse you, then I give up.  I can’t reach you with a sharp pin.

 

But fashion itself is a fascinating topic.  It seems to move and change on its own timeline, without regard for events.  (Which, I would suppose is as we should expect, given its impervious nature.)  In my younger years I lived in a home I’d purchased on the cheap in the Rainier Valley area of Seattle.   This section of Seattle contained (and still does) the most diversified population in terms of race and ethnicity of any area in King County.  While I lived there, gang violence was endemic.  I still remember my neighbor arguing loudly in the middle of our street with his son not to join the gang which was waiting for him on the corner.  I had passed the years watching this decent kid grow from a toddler, to the middle school aged youngster who now apparently had been judged old enough to join the gang.  I also remember a neighborhood friend relating the tale of going to pick up her son at school and having to hug the floor of her car outside of the school to escape the exchange of bullets passing overhead.  Our community and the city government tried this and they tried that.  Then, after it seemed I had given up hope and had moved on anyway, it just ended.  No more violence.  No more gangs on the corner.  And yet everything else was the same.  Same people.  Same laws.  Same police.   Same homes.  Same everything.  Only the people who did that sort of thing, didn’t do it anymore.  As near as I could tell, it just passed out of fashion.

Photo is Lady Gaga from Google Images

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From the Editors Perch…

August 6, 2013
The Object of My Desire

The Object of My Desire

Moral of the Mini-can:

You Do Not Control Bureaucrats Anymore Than You Can Control a Roach 

            When I purchased my first home in Rainier Valley for $15,000. money was scarce, and I didn’t intend to spend any more than necessary.  So when the City of Seattle offered homeowners a lower garbage fee for using a smaller can, I immediately tried to sign up for my ‘Mini-can’.

Well, a quick way for large organizations to cut their operating costs is to replace the job of phone receptionist with voice mail options.  This has been a boon to government workers as it solves two problems in one fell swoop.  First, it demonstrates to the public that your government bureaucracy is trying to cut back on costs and that they are underfunded (ergo sum).  Secondly, it greatly decreases the time government workers have to spend responding to either disgruntled or demanding citizens – another cost-saving feature.  In fact, if the voicemail directions are vague and complex enough, and the waiting time to reach an actual human voice long enough – there is a good chance that the government worker will never have to speak with the citizen over the phone at all.  And nothing shaves costs like not having to provide the service.

So I looked up the number of the City Sanitation Services and dialed it.  For a couple successive days I waited on the line until I could no longer bear it.

But I wanted my Mini-can.   Mayor Royer, our mayor at the time, had created a satellite collection of “mini City Halls”.  These were created with the intention of allowing the citizens more direct access to the city and its services.  So I visited mine.

My mini-City Hall was only 4 blocks away and situated in the local neighborhood business district in the shop front abutting the restaurant where I had my coffee each morning, before driving to work.  The coffee shop was an inviting spot which also included a bakery.  And there was a single cash register right out in the open where people paid for their orders.  The mini City Hall was right next door and not as inviting.   The shop had been walled off with a very secure door leading back to somewhere, so that only a small space remained for a person to sit or stand.  It was painted government hues of beige.  A wood rack on the wall held flyers explaining various city services and how to qualify.  Half of this small front area was also walled off by perhaps an inch thick Plexiglas window, held in a log frame, with a 4” hole through which, if you bent down, you could speak with the person inside in a supplicating manner.  Somehow, it seems understood (for all of time), that the person seated inside will not ask you for what you want.  You have to get their attention.

(I forgot to mention that on the walls were signs warning that the swearing or threatening of any city employee would be immediately responded to by the police.)

The person, whose attention I had to get was a middle-aged bottled mostly-blonde, with the beginnings of a middle-aged spread in a red dress who was painting her nails.  Nowadays the first words out of my mouth would probably be, “Excuse me.  But are you a real person or just a cliché’ slouched there?”  Then, however, I was much more contrite when approaching official power, and just said, “Excuse me?”  She didn’t look up.  She was leaned back and probably assessing a particularly difficult ridge of nail at that moment.  I continued, “I need to get a smaller garbage can?  They have me signed up for a large one, which isn’t necessary and costs more.  So I need to change this and get a Mini- can.”  She looked up.

Not out of duty, I think, but because I had piqued her curiosity.

“You want your… Mini-can,” she said, as if she were referring to the size of my dick.

I nodded, not to be put off.

With a lot of effort, she put her stuff away and rearranged herself.

“What’s your name and address,” she said.

I told her.

She picked up the phone.

“That won’t do any good,” I offered helpfully.   “I tried phoning the Sanitation Department, but couldn’t reach the right section and when I did – if I did – I was put on hold until, well, forever…”

She nodded, but continued to use the phone.

“Yes,” she replied, when the person on the other end answered.  “I have a person here who wants his Mini-can.”  She nodded, and gave the essential information.  “Thank you.”  She hung up and turned to me.  “Your Mini-can should appear next week,” she said.

“Uh?  Oh good!” I said surprised.  “How were you able to get through to the Sanitation Department so easily, when it seemed like I tried forever?  Maybe I could have that number?”

“I didn’t call the Sanitation Department,” she said.  “I called the Mayor’s office.  And no, you can’t have that number.”

Photo from Google Images.


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