And here we have Idaho, winning her way to shame…
We had a terrible windstorm. Many trees, even very big trees down. Our power was out for about 30 hours, hence no blogs. We were spared damage by the sandpile on the north side of Sandhill, but many others on the north side of us were not. At least two barns lost roofs, one house lost part of a roof, another house or two had huge trees fall right on them, our county road was closed for several hours, and etc. Not much fun. But it could be California or the Midwest. We count and appreciate our blessings.
But, ah, yes, Idaho. The Gem state. And a gem it is, physically. In other respects it is a kind of wasteland. Education, for example, is shameful, with a state legislature for years searching for every way they can find not to fund it. Indeed, at one point one of our legislators even suggested changing the State Constitution so we would not have to fund education at all. For years now there has been one legal battle after another, trying to force the state to pay up for education. The state is still resisting and the battle continues.. After all, who needs schools? They just cost money. Money that can otherwise go to promote businesses. The fact that some businesses refuse to locate here because the schools are so bad does not seem to register in the brains of our legislators. Our Idaho teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation. We pay less per student than many other states. Many of our school buildings have deteriorated badly. Many of our children never finish High School. Many more do not go on to college. If they do, and graduate, they mostly leave the state because of lack of opportunity.
Idaho has also one of the lowest, if not the lowest, minimum wages to be found in the U.S. And we have archaic right-to-work laws designed to insure that it stays that way. I don’t have the figures but I’m pretty certain that the annual income for Idaho families is among the lowest in the country also. One can go across the border into the state of Washington where the minimum wage is approximately $3 a hour higher. Idaho is also one of the few states that charges sales tax on groceries. I suspect our legislators are working on plans to tax air and water as well.
Idaho must be one of the few states that encourages businesses to actually seek out and import hazardous waste. Contaminated soil is imported from thousands of miles away to be stored here. I guess this is a business we can all be proud of. Now many influential Idahoans are promoting nuclear energy, the only form of actively “anti-life on the planet” energy source there is. Idaho is well-suited for renewable energy sources, solar, wind, hydro, and such, but they still want nuclear. I understand that France is now shipping its nuclear waste to Russia. If we can’t produce our own, perhaps we could compete with the Russians to get it shipped and stored here instead? No doubt a profit could be made, isn’t that what life in Idaho (and the U.S.) is all about?
Idaho is so well represented in Congress that in most respects we might as well not exist at all. Our senior Senator, Larry , now famous as “wide-stance” Craig, embarrassed himself and the state by being caught soliciting sex in a Minnesota airport, and compounded the offense by offering excuses so transparently false as to be laughable: “I have a wide stance,” “I was picking a piece of paper off the floor,” “I was just waving my hand,” and so on. His wife was even dragooned into defending him, all to no avail. It made for good press and it is unlikely Craig will ever live it down. I wouldn’t be surprised if they bronzed the cubicle and put his name on it. I guess it is already becoming a bit of a tourist attraction. Craig’s other claim to fame seems to be that he was widely known as “the Senator from Boise Cascade.” For years he has promoted the timber industry in Idaho, the environment be damned (and all environmentalists moreso). For some reason he hates salmon and has done everything possible to make certain they cannot be restored. The marvelous Snake River salmon runs that existed for thousands and thousands of years are being sacrificed so a few Southern Idaho farmers can send their spuds and stuff more cheaply to the coast. Idaho is much like Texas in this respect, “bidness comes first.” Our other Senator, Crapo, thankfully, is not often in the news. It is not entirely clear to me what he does but I’m certain he does whatever Republicans want him to do. Our crowning glory, however, has to be Congressman Bill Sali who apparently believes that always voting “no” with the minority is the way to represent your state. Sali was so unpopular as a State legislator he was regarded as an idiot, and I believe one gentlemen actually threatened to throw him out the window. This did not keep the good citizens of Idaho from electing him and he is said to be perhaps re-elected. Probably the best way to describe Sali is as a Doofus. You can be pretty certain that if any bill is designed to improve the lives of the citizens of Idaho, Sali will vote no.
Idaho’s governor, Clement LeRoy “Butch” Otter is almost a textbook case in mediocrity. He was lieutenant-governor of Idaho under three different governors and mostly did nothing. He served two terms in Congress where he also did mostly nothing. His only claim to fame that I can see is that he worked himself up in the Simplot organization, married the Boss’s daughter, became wealthy, and once won a tight jeans contest. It was apparently only name recognition that allowed him to win a close race for governor. Predictably, he is mostly a do-nothing governor whose main passion seems to be killing wolves and making noises about Idaho’s highways. The one thing you can count on with Otter is that he will do anything to keep Idaho under Republican control, the same Republican control that has brought Idaho to its current state of malaise, sub-mediocrity, and irrelevance, and seems determined to keep us there as long as business requires it.
I believe it is well past time for a change. Vote LaRocco. Vote Minick. Vote Democratic. Vote as if your future depends on it. It does.
Alone in the dark
all shadows become longer
and more frightening.