Monday, June 11, 2012


“One day a countryman going to the nest of his goose found there an egg all yellow and glittering. When he took it up it was as heavy as lead and he was going to throw it away, because he thought a trick had been played upon him. But he took it home on second thoughts, and soon found to his delight that it was an egg of pure gold. Every morning the same thing occurred, and he soon became rich by selling his eggs. As he grew rich he grew greedy, and thinking to get at once all the gold the goose could give, he killed it and opened it up only to find nothing.”
    From Aesop’s Fables (The Goose with the Golden Eggs)
As with many fables, this one has many lessons that can be drawn from it. For instance, the good people of Lyon County could easily be viewed as the golden goose. The countryman could represent political leadership. Seen in that light, it’s not too hard to discern that there are times when political leaders, in their haste to exploit resources, go too far.
I should feel flattered that some are accusing me of inciting an electoral riot. The truth is, all I did as get out in front of the parade that formed in the wake of the County Commissioners’ vote to approve the extension merger.
I’m also accused of not promoting facts. The truth is, some pro-extension folks seem to believe they have an exclusive reign on the facts.
It’s interesting how anger sometimes wells up in the heat of battle. I’m reminded of a whistle stop Harry Truman made in Harrisburg, Illinois during his 1948 campaign. As he started to speak, one of his supporters shouted, “Give ‘em hell, Harry.” Harry responded, “I don’t give ‘em hell. I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell!”
Pro-extension folks say they want facts. I’m delighted to oblige:
Fact: My property taxes have more than doubled since my wife and I moved here in ’99. It’s been like death by a thousand cuts.
Fact: There are 52 entities levying taxes against the people of Lyon County. That amounts to a lot of people wanting to get their hands on your money, and mine.
Fact: Emporia and Lyon County have extremely high poverty rates.
Fact: Our average incomes are well below Kansas, and national averages.
Fact: If the merger is approved, the new district will be an independent taxing agency, with unlimited taxing authority.
Fact: Politics is the realm of the ambitious. If given authority, politicians will use it.
Does that mean I believe that those who are pro-extension are evil incarnate? Absolutely not! They’re no better or worse than the rest of us.
Some facts from the history of western civilization are now in order. I’ve been accused of being a self-anointed expert. The truth is, I rely on experts that history has deemed reliable. It was Adam Smith, for example, who outlined the basis for free market economics. As a moral philosopher he was a keen observer of humanity. He saw that people almost always act in their self-interest. John Locke, another keen observer of humanity observed that “The great and chief end therefore, of Men’s uniting into commonwealths is the preservation of their Property.” Western economists take that to mean money as well as land and homes. His work also became foundational in the framing of our representative (note the embedded word “represent) form of government. It was James Madison who learned through experience that men aren’t angels, whether they’re being governed or doing the governing. He put it this way: “If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” Our commissioners aren’t angels. They don’t always represent our will. They didn’t in this case. Therefore, we have the right to exert some external control over the things they’ve done, through petition, peaceful protest, and the ballot box.
Finally, I’ve been accused of fear mongering. That’s poppycock. All I’ve done is what I’m entitled to do as a citizen.
We’ll all get to decide this issue in August. I’m not afraid of the outcome. I’m not the one who’s hinting that only the “enlightened” and “informed” should be voting on this measure. We’ve been victims of that paradigm far too long. Have our leaders become so arrogant that they believe they’re the county’s only gatekeepers? As I said, I’m not afraid of the outcome. People can vote for or against the merger for whatever reason they like.  There are no gatekeepers. There are no enlightenment or social status tests. There’s no Jim Crow. The only requirement is citizenship. Therefore, when August comes I’m going to cast my ballot and I encourage every eligible Lyon County voter to do the same.

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