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Living in the state of shame

Published on -9/19/2012, 10:07 AM

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I began this opinion piece at the request of a friend to address the manipulation by Gov. Sam Brownback and Secretary of State Kris Kobach to our state government policies and laws.

You know, Gov. Brownback's meeting in secret with supporters to craft policy and calling it an evening dinner, instead of considering the wants and needs of the good people who put him in office. Kris Kobach traveling the nation to write anti-immigration laws for other states on the dime of the Kansas taxpayer.

This demonstration by the state government that Kansans do not deserve affordable health care and refusal to accept federal grants to create a health care exchange. There are the additional infractions of restricting voting rights from Kris Kobach and a tax policy from Gov. Brownback that will shift the tax responsibility to middle class property owners and small municipalities.

Women's ability to decide for themselves about reproductive rights, restricting access to abortions and family planning. Finally, let us remember the recent corporate-funded attack on opposition politicians, called primary election races, of their own party to move this corporate funded agenda forward. So, I was going to delegate a new title to the state of Kansas as the State of Shame. I prefer Brownbackistan, a region controlled by religious leaders and wealthy chieftains similar to Third World countries in the Middle East or Africa. Perhaps, too radical, so instead I decided to read the current opinion pieces published by the newspaper.

The usual unfounded claims against President Barack Obama were present, also the complicated responses that tend to decrease the interest of the reader, and the columns of national syndicated writers who present one side of an argument. I thought to myself, why does the newspaper not have letters or opinions about local issues? The national politics affect us in a singular fashion. This is a tax-dependent state; we require more tax subsidies than tax dollars paid to keep farmers in business, roads paved, schools operating, hospitals open, oil flowing to refineries and local utility companies to provide services. The reason is not enough population to create a tax base that will pay for all these amenities. Smaller government anyone?

Rather than contribute to a worn-out debate, I decided to look at local issues and decided to address the following.

Do we really have to pick up the excrement from out pets? Really, won't this stuff disappear on its own and save us the humiliation and labor? I notice a lot of dedicated pet owners, however, when I take my dog for walk I feel I have done my part for my pet's mental and physical health.

Another issue, has anyone seen the Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex? It is beautiful, and everyone involved needs to be congratulated. Fort Hays State University is another issue: They provided so much to our community they deserve regular recognition. The list continues. Have you been to the county fairgrounds? Notice all the local businesses that sponsor the car races and the county fair? These business owners all deserve acknowledgement for their contribution to our community. Hays Medical Center and their ongoing efforts to bring modern health facilities to our community. The local museums and library allow area residents to gain enlightenment on many subjects -- and I rarely notice a letter thanking them.

I think you might see my point.

I recently returned from a trip to the East Coast and, while there, I met a nice couple. These folks were those dangerous East Coast liberals that some people warn us not to trust. I compared them to a radical right-wing couple here, who according to liberals are the problem.

Guess what? They both plant gardens, they enjoy the same music, they have the same hobbies, and they are in the same age bracket. One lesson from this is labels separate us from our compatible traits and common interest.

Polarization of the people is the real state of shame. I believe everyone should attempt to disengage from the narrow views promoted by national politics and take time to recognize the positive actions in our community.

I suggest write a letter to the newspaper thanking those that contribute to our community. I think this makes for better reading than the customary blame assignment literature. While there will always be disagreement on government policy, it eventually is worked out and the common good continues. Debate is expected but it should not devalue those in the debate. So, the next time you want to write a letter think about the good that is happening in our town and let the rest of us know about it.

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.

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