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Will Hays enter the 21st century?

Good luck in your future, President Edward Hammond, and thank you for your dedication to Fort Hays State University. It is wonderful to see the campus fully occupied with students who are preparing for the challenges of the 21st century. I encourage the city of Hays to follow suit, take a few notes and embrace forward thinking for the 21st century.

Hays has managed financial affairs well, yet this will not be the correct style of governance required to address the issues of the 21st century. Water is disappearing more quickly than it can be replaced, and the city response is implementing an expansion of water conservation policies. This is step one to address the water shortage; the second step is increase water supply.

How far will water restrictions go if no new sources of water are developed? Perhaps the city will mandate no yard watering at all, or shower every other day, flush once a day. A one-sided approach could be difficult on people who like green yards or to smell clean. I suggest the city stop gauging projects by the bottom line and begin considering the cost of not proceeding to develop new water sources. A build-it-and-they-will-come sort of philosophy to address a 21st century issue that requires attention.

Another 21st century problem not addressed by the city is wage inequality. The cost of living in this community far exceeds the wages from employers. It additionally exceeds the cost of living in many larger communities. OK, I will decode cost of living, which means housing. When people in our fair community donate hard-earned income to inflated real estate or rental cost, the other businesses in town lose. Building space is vacant, and the jobs once provided are eliminated. The next time your employer tells you wages cannot increase because of the government, do yourself favor. Examine your employer's lifestyle and compare it to that statement.

In this part of the world, we have many senior citizens. They buy many prescriptions to address the aches and pains of aging. A 21st century solution to large pharmaceutical companies is medicinal marijuana. I am not asking you to get your grandma or grandpa stoned, even if it might be slightly entertaining. Many hybrids of marijuana now are grown with low or no THC content. This product has been used successfully in treating Alzheimer's, joint pain, seizure disorders and other complications of aging. If you are not a senior, consider it for the pain of working in the oil patch, farm, factory or other manual labor jobs. Disclaimer: No, I do not, as my drugs of choice are nicotine and caffeine.

In the 21st century, the family will need to be stabilized. One act that promotes a stronger family is marriage. Gay marriage is no different in this respect. Two people commit to a lifelong relationship and proceed to do what married couples do. They buy homes, remain in steady employment, raise children and care for loved ones. I happen to not be gay but have been through divorce. I advocate all marriage be banned; however, this is not helpful toward the goal of stronger families.

Now, I fully understand many residents live in the bubble promoted by right wing media that all progress is evil and the devil will take our souls for doing it. It is a mask of Communism and Socialism, or the re-emergence of the Third Reich. In reality, this ploy of reporting on a manufactured crisis 24 hours a day has one goal. It is to empower oligarchs that control mass wealth to retain power and enforce their perception they are chosen by God to rule the people. Similar to the kings of Medieval Europe or perhaps by seven of the top 10 billionaires who were born into established wealth. The words FDR said years ago stand today, "You have nothing to fear but fear itself."

The city of Hays has choices and options to attract new residents and employers. In the 21st century, the old rules will not work. The city will need to build a water pipeline to complement water conservation. Encourage commission members with vested interest in real estate to rescind from involvement on policy decisions that might help people afford this community. Consider practices or laws that tolerate different medical treatment. Finally, the city should disregard the prejudices of the past and enter the 21st century. It is here to stay.

Glenn Michael Cox, Hays, was raised on farm in north-central Kansas. He is a graduate of Fort Hays State University and works as a manager of supervised services for a local private nonprofit agency.