Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Truth Table: Conservative, Capitalist, Liberal, Progressive

Elections profile voter motivations. Elections also birth consequences. There are consequences for voters, and for those who are voted into office. And, those consequences in turn change the ranking of local motivations. What motivations might shape Whatcom County life in months and years ahead?

I would like to examine and whimsically profile two commonly associated public policy categories, social and fiscal values. Social values may include both caring for the weak and denying or indulging passions. Fiscal values may include work, wage, capitalization and taxation elements. Both social and fiscal public policies are determined by governments, which are formed by the leader “worthships” (elections in America) of its citizens.

Both social and fiscal policy have a nexus in work. I would say that fiscal policy enables social policy, and social policy redeems fiscal policy. This is one reason why Whatcom Works =).

Here is my analysis.

Social Fiscal

Conservative x x single family capitalized Reformation Protestant / Catholic

[Classical Music Home/Public School Family]

Conservative x
bank capitalized Ref. Protestant/Enlightenment Catholic


x [Age 50+ Lynden Business/Farm Family]

bank capitalized Enlightenment Protestant / Pragmatist


x [Country Republican/Tea Party/Young Lynden Business Family]

mixed bank/tax base capitalized Post Modern Pragmatist


x [Bellingham Businessman/NGO/Gov’t Agency Sector]

tax base/bank capitalized Post Modern Evangelical


x [CCM / Russian immigrant / Home or Public Schooled Family]

Progressive x x tax base capitalized age 18-45 Modern/Post Modern Utopian

[Huxley-WWU, Bellingham lawyer/medical/educator class]

[global multi-national high tech business circle e.g. Bill Gates]

Progressive x
single family capitalized Post Modern Communitarian

x [Grow Local, Food Coop, Under-employed Wage Worker]

Conservative x x single family capitalized Post Modern Catholic, Mormon, Hispanic, Muslim…

[Union Wage Worker, Corporate Wage Worker]

As a service and remodel electrician, I work in many homes. I enjoy conversations with many sectors of people. As I stated above, this is a whimsical, anecdotally driven analysis. But I think it is fairly accurate.

Conservatives generally minimize risk and value continuity. They value traditional community, family and God relationships as their mile posts in life.

Liberals are the end product of the incipient globalism of the 1500’s, the colonizations of the 1600’s, the industrialization and enlightenment of the 1700’s and 1800’s. Liberals take a pragmatic, largely live and let live approach to life. Liberals absorb and discard social mores throughout their lives, and largely disdain the social and faith based strictures of conservatives. Liberals see no reason why broken people can’t be fixed with money. Aging liberal grandparents decry the rot from socialist fiscal policies in their grandchildren, yet advocate for youthful flaming sexual passions. They then continually bemoan the revolving bedroom door of living partners of their offspring. Liberals fixate on the surface social elements of aboriginal cultures and spiritist religion, then destroy those same people by transferring boat loads of money from local taxpayers into aboriginal circles.

Many current Progressives are rebranded liberals who are hyper dogmatized like many conservatives. They harshly impose their social values, only, without God and with an enlarged, somewhat dysfunctional definition of community. In reality, progressives are their own mini-gods, and spend an inordinate amount of time propping up their sagging self-image. Go progressive left far enough and you meet the utopian instincts of the religious right. Most grass roots progressives give an amazing amount of their time to their neighbors. Maybe too much for the good of either party. At elite levels, progressives are usually closet capitalists, and could care less for social needs.

Capitalists struggle to fulfill social responsibilities. The burden of corporate upsizing exiles its inhabitants to a moonscape of cash flows, collections, markets, and materialistic fulfillments. Capitalists who are elected into public office may promise tax reductions, but unless they are rooted in a conservative religious element, have a very small relational resource base to drive solutions for community social problems. After the election, they rather quickly capitulate to the system of transfers of tax revenue to non-religious NGOs and government agencies. They find themselves unable to counter NGO and government financial bloat and relational inefficiencies.

Many evangelicals consider themselves social conservatives because they donate money to faith based charities and advocate heterosexual marriage for life. However, there is little difference between them and most liberals. The common ground is closing the home’s door to larger families, (“two children is more than enough”) which also blunts skill and vision for later social service contributions.  Hypocritical evangelical birth control usage is glossed over, yet abortion is unconscionable. The end result in both groups is fewer children and more materialistic freedoms. And, abortionists laugh all the way to the bank. Small time family capitalization gives a “lower” standard of living, but the long term benefits for children are much greater with limited family capital than with big time bank or tax base corporate capitalization. Most evangelicals seek loans and reject children.

In the chart above, there is a sequence. At the top is a Reformation era/type of person. Most early European Americans came from German, Anglo and French Reformation stock. As material prosperity was enabled by global exploration, colonization and industrialization, a corporate mindset replaced family and clan capitalization and culture. Capitalization became a driving and increasingly resented marker in the enlightenment era. God became a distant or non existent reality for elites flush with world capital.

European continental social passions were openly indulged in increasing measure in the 1700’s and later. The ravages of early industrialization were tempered by confrontations with corporations in the late 1900’s, but the social equity of capitalism remains very low. Working for a corporation has more value than not working at all, but corporate “family job wages” do not compensate for reduced formative time with one’s children. The public school is also a poor nanny. Many young families are having to rediscover nuclear family life.

The chart lists several concurrent groups.

Progressive wage workers grapple with falling standards of living, either living in welfare or seeking some elusive tryst with nature and aboriginal cultures.

Older capitalists and wage workers struggle to maintain retirement prospects by shifting their investments through a dizzying range of unstable stock portfolios.

Progressive grant tycoons compensate market job losses by enlarging local grant driven agencies. As government (and progressive millionaire) resources dry up, grant based agencies will shrink and scale down their grand progressive agendas. Many welfare supported families will get very upset. There is a reason to base income on work initiative, not need.

Younger capitalists eat their own health, carrying family killing loans and pleasures.

My harshest words are reserved for my own kind. Christians. Fundamentalists. Evangelicals. Conservatives. We have lost touch with the transcendent power of a God who waits to show his power in meeting the material needs of his bond servants. We have become unaccountable, materialistic wraiths, slipping through life, grasping for college degrees, houses, late model cars, cosmetic beauty, athletic honors, with a modicum of theological correctness after Sunday dinner.

We spend an inordinate amount of time in church buildings and with church friends.

Conservative Christian, take my challenge. Do what your Master says. Lift up your eyes and look about you.  Engage in the public square. Enable the worthy leader, elected or appointed, as he moves resources to meet needs. Take the transcendence and power of your God into the public square. Sharing CCM worship music in a mall is tripe in the public square. Christian athletes and models suck when compared to Christian businessmen who know and address local social needs.

Evangelical father, develop financial discipline. There is a time for elegance and academics, but how much of that is needed, and when? Now is the time to get down and dirty, to earn and share your capital. Teach your children to major on work, not on loans for college and homes, not on football and beer parties. Also, put your time and children in the public square, not just your money.

Finally, expect to go it alone. Your Christian friends will likely not follow you, at first. It is the uncommon ground that counts, but uncommon ground has risks, and does not have a “predictable” financial return. But then, who came to the uncommon ground as a baby 2000 years ago? Go figure!                       -- JK

Monday, December 2, 2013

Uncommon Ground

Epistemology. What is it? Webster’s Collegiate Fifth, page 336—

“ the theory or science of the method and grounds of knowledge,
especially with a reference to its limits and validity.”

In other words, how you know what you know.

A couple of nights ago, I viewed a documentary on climate change, the geological speculations of Michael J. Oard . Historical climate change. Warm seas. Wet warm valleys. Cold, glaciated mountains. Millions of dead woolley mammoths, buried beside hippopotamii. Washington State’s Missoula Lake flood. Interesting ice age theories. Interesting stuff. Controversial stuff. How does he know what he says he knows?

Michael J. Oard, has a B.S. and M.S. degree in atmospheric science from the University of Washington. He was a research meteorologist for 6 years at the University of Washington. In 2001, he retired as a lead forecaster with the National Weather Service in Great Falls, Montana.

As for myself, I grew up in Alberta, Canada. Cold, dry air winters were the norm. Maximum three feet of snow on the ground. Extreme temperature swings of 80 degrees were common, when arctic air was pushed aside by dry chinook winds from the west coast. Sidewalks with a ground temperature of -30 F built up a half inch of frost when air temps moved to +50F in a matter of two hours. Could this be called climate change? Three feet of snow was reduced to a half a foot in one day, and rivers of water flowed down sloping streets.

Then, the bitter cold came back with a vengeance, leaving streets and sidewalks a dangerous aggregation of frozen slush and lakes in various non-navigable patterns. The ground frost remained all winter to a depth of at least four feet. No one dug new foundations until the middle of May. Climate change! Yeah! Of sorts.

Our family moved to the West Coast 23 years ago. I love the mild winters where I can “play” in the dirt all year around. Granted, the gray, watery days keep things in perspective, but I love the ground here.

Uncommon ground. A very wise man once wrote, “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house”.

What creates commerce? Markets? Need! Some would say, desire.

We live in an age of specialization. The great majority of people do not produce their own food. They have largely forsaken the field, the ground. Silly city people hug trees and finger shells and pretend food independence. For them, growing food is uncommon, something to preach about and regulate for others, but not to do.

Soil is relatively heavy to a man. Opening the soil for seed, whacking weeds, training vines, turning in amendments and fertilizers, digging out the precious fruits—this takes strong arms and backs.

Fossil fuels (and electrical power conversions) have made possible this detachment from the soil. In Washington State, significant water power has been harnessed as well. Wind and solar power is a dream that moves closer, but (grind your teeth if you wish), it is oil that puts food on our plates.

Uncommon ground. In 1994 we purchased five acres as a family playground and homestead. In 1999 we purchased four milking sheep. Our family has grown to nine, that is seven children. This is uncommon ground. I get asked if I am a Mormon or a Catholic. I am neither. We see children as a gift, the seed of the next generation, a legacy of hope, not something to be flushed down the toilet the morning after, like many other “Christians” of our day.

Uncommon ground. Sheep take work. Children helping is a win-win situation. We had to weather several learning curves at once. Fieldwork. Animal husbandry. Farm shelters. Milking skills. Cheese and yogurt making. Ice cream making was not so hard! We did this on the cheap. No bank loans. Seasons of waiting for cash to build up. Seasons of trying to orient to government health rules based on large, quick capital infusions. We wanted our children to see how businesses used to be started when grants and loans were not the norm. We have enjoyed not feeling the bite of the bank.

Uncommon ground. We took the time to relate our heritage to our “farm”. Have you ever read what the Bible says about farming? About sheep? About milk? The Bible is a big thing in our larger family circle. Maybe not yours. Probably not, especially if you are one of the privileged, “educated” class who eats what other people grow. (I do have a college degree). We love to contribute in our local church fellowship. We share our soil’s produce and our Bible insights there.

Uncommon ground. You may notice that I will post to Whatcom Works less frequently in days ahead. I am working on another website which will be called UnCommon Ground. Whatcom Works is supposed to be a local “Drudge” page for news and conservative commentary. Digging up and writing stories and aggregating news has to take a back seat to earning a living. I do not have EPA grants to allow me to watch other people all day as they grow my food.

But, it is the uncommon ground that holds the potential for the future. Political process and public policy spring out of the community of people in their given locale. Neighbors actually have a lot of uncommon ground. How can we come together? A lot of acceptance is needed. Patience. Negotiating. When uncommon worldviews mix without trust or giving, there are wars.

Uncommon ground. He who sits above the circle of the earth walked uncommon ground with men 2000 years ago. Christmas has roots. So does Easter, or Pasqua, or Passover. If you don’t like religion, don’t read our work at Uncommon Ground. But then, don’t brag about being a tolerant liberal.

Thanks for your time. Have a good Whatcom work day!

--- JK


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dead Men on Furlough

Today is Thanksgiving. Many years ago, a small group of adventurers and fugitives celebrated a summer of life. Today, their descendants and the host of others who came to the “land of promise” remember them. And, today, we, their descendants, have largely lost the worldview of being “dead men on furlough”.

Fact: 17th century English kings and queens put religious dissenters in prison and confiscated their goods.
Fact: 17th century Dutch capitalist ports were roughly hospitable to the fleeing English dissenters.
Fact: 17th century European sea captains sold native American Indians on European slave blocks.
Fact: 17th century Catholic church clerics bought the freedom of some of these Indians.
Fact: Patuxet tribal son Squanto made the laborious journey back to the his New England tribal home.
Fact: an unknown disease had wiped out Squanto’s immediate family.
Fact: 17th century English religious dissenters landed in early winter at the exact spot of the tribal plague.
Fact: the English dissenters ran out of food and many died, adding to the local death toll.
Fact: Squanto spoke English when he walked into the camp of the “Pilgrims”.
Fact: Squanto “adopted” the Pilgrims and showed them foods that helped them survive their famine.
Fact: Squanto and other native Indians joined the Pilgrims in an extended party after the next fall’s harvest.
Fact: Our American thanksgiving festival has these roots.

Fact: 21st century American “kings and queens” are building new prisons for their own people, enacting and carrying out policies which drove Englishmen to emigrate and institute American religious freedoms over 400 years ago.
Fact: A new world order is being offered, and the captains of America wage a calculated Marxist dialectic war to align Americans with that future.
Fact: You and I will choose to either return to European socialism and its new “kings”, or to stay the path to a different paradise.

Fact: America has Christian ideals undeniably rooted in the world’s best seller, the Judeo Christian Bible.
Fact: a strategic war has been incrementally waged over the past 200 years to erase that heritage from the American mind.
Fact: the American government power base has shifted from the traditional Christian majority to a minority of atheists, pantheists and Muslim sympathizers, with the desire, means and momentum to attempt to destroy the Christian worldview.

Fact: God is a spirit, and operates outside the realm of human power, controlling events for his ultimate purposes. His transcendent eyes first purge those who claim his name, then destroy those who attack his name.

Fact: Christian peacemakers are called the sons of God. Christian peacemakers upset plans of worldly power brokers who benefit from dialectical wars (aka progressive public:private NGO grant streams).

Fact: Angry power brokers persecute straight forward peacemakers. It would be a “Progressive” disaster if local tribal groups were bypass them and find water usage solutions by dealing directly with local farmers.

Fact: Peacemakers who stay the course have a salty, healthy impact on culture. Peacemakers who hold tightly to their own little earthly stores become saltless castaways.

Fact: After salt cleanses social wounds, light shines and a Godly power ethic is renewed.

Fact: European and Asian Christians during the rise and fall of Nazi, Ninja, and Communist regimes model the path forward for American Christians facing parallel progressive ideologies today. Note the transfer of values between the parents and their famous children.

Peter Vins: martyred pastor and father of Ukrainian Christian dissident and pastor Georgi Vins. Georgi Vins was the leader of the group of Ukranian families who went underground with a church where children were allowed to attend, be trained and participate fully (contrary to the dictums of the Communist Red Scarf youth movement). Exiled to America, Georgi Vins recruited American Christians to pray for and write letters to Ukranian pastors in Russian political prisons. This outsider support model is also used today to encourage the explosively growing Christian church under the fanatical Muslim regime in Iran.

Caspar ten Boom: father of Dutch underground member Corrie ten Boom. This family provided safe haven to Jews who were fleeing capture and trains headed for Nazi extermination camps. Supported by her faith and a smuggled Bible, Corrie forgave the traitorous Dutch Nazi informer who landed her in a Nazi concentration camp. Corrie created a circle of hope in the filth infested Ravensbruck women's barracks. She survived. Her sister Betsy did not.

Karl and Klara Bonhoeffer: privileged parents of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who in the years leading up to the first world war, created a home where music and laughter were shared with hosts of visitors, and the family intellects were whetted to a razor sharp edge of observation and critical thinking. Pacifist son Dietrich entered the Lutheran ministry, encountered a life changing Black American church in New York, causing him to spurn the Riverside Cathedral theology of American liberal Harry Emerson Fosdick. Returning to Germany during the rise of the Nazi regime, Dietrich stood alone when German clergy replaced the cross of Christ with the swastika of Hitler, ultimately being executed for his associations with a group that tried to assassinate Hitler. His writings endure and encourage many today.

Esther Ahn Kim: largely unknown to English speaking people, the Esther (Ahn E Sook was her Korean name) drank deeply of the Bible, refused to present worship to the flag of the Rising Sun, and became a beacon of hope to both her Korean fellow prisoners and her desperately unhappy Japanese jailors. Her spirit remained unbroken when many around her were crushed systematically in a struggle much larger than that between Japan and Korea.

Most notable fact: It was the second generation that was the salt during the time of war, testing and disaster. If you want to validate an ideology, look at the fruit in the lives of the children of its champions.

Again, the question is, “Do Whatcom County Christian “rural greens” have the moxie to pass their values to the children who will survive our 21st  century momentary progressive environmental madness? How far does our vision of peace see? This is something to think about and plan for. This is the obligation of Thanksgiving.  -- JK

NW Washington is a great place to do anything—if it is permit-ted; WSDA and Snohomish Conservation District pressure Old Silvana Creamery over de-grandfather-ed organic manure fertilizer lagoon’s de-permit-ted POTENTIAL to pollute.

Herald water rights article omits Mann and Weimer vote to support Futurewise/ReSources and abandon non-Bellingham Whatcom County well and property owners; to kill legal action against the Growth Management Hearings Board over their extreme anti rural wells ruling.

Local “farmer” and“tactic proxies” Nicole Brown (and friends) showcase environmentalist “war games” skills; file lawsuit enabling Growth Management Hearings Board to beat down non Bellingham grow local, buy local county resolution and related beef farmers.

Behold the “anti farmer” staff and boards of local “anti farmer” agencies. Yes, this is the same Lee First who has renewed grant funding to keep visiting central Whatcom County farms to “discover” POTENTIAL to pollute and be sued. Study and remember these well funded and strategically organized armies of environmental hardline “Whatcom based and King County directed agitators”.

Official profiles of Christine Gregoire appointed Growth Management Hearings Board members.  Note extensive environmentalist credentials of most board members. Note Bellingham resident William Roehl, husband of Bellingham mayor Kelli Linville. Any conflict of interest here? Note ideological kinship with environmentalists of Futurewise/ReSources. Note legal “tag team boxing” potential against Whatcom farmers and rural private property rights advocates.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Incremental Stealth Social Change - Slow Cooking Ourselves

Incremental Stealth Social Change Model In Health Care
The Justice Department’s assertion, based on the administration’s internal analyses, conveys that by the third year of Obamacare’s implementation — “the end of 2013,” which has since been extended by a year due to Obama’s “waiver” of the employer mandate — more than half of those 156 million group policies will have lost their “grandfather status.” “Grandfathering” is the mirage Obama projected for his illusory “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” guarantee. Read more here.

Incremental Stealth Social Change In Limiting Whatcom Rural Residency Patterns
At a Nov. 18 Monday morning work session, Bellingham City Council members Jack Weiss and Michael Lilliquist were adamant that the GMA does not require Bellingham to choose population or employment projections that are “likely,” and to accommodate those.  They insisted they are free to choose any projection they want (within the Office of Financial Management’s recommended range), in an effort to influence how much growth the city gets.  They might think the city will grow, for instance, but make a policy decision to pick a lower projection in an effort to discourage growth. It turns out the sticking point may be something else entirely, however. Read more here.

Incremental Stealth Social Change Skews Skagit County Homeowner Water Rights
Seven landowners in the Skagit River’s Carpenter-Fisher sub-basin have reached a settlement with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and the state Department of Ecology that will allow them to get water to their properties. Landowners in the Sun Peak Estates subdivision, located about one mile south of the Skagit County line and east of Interstate 5, will each be able to use 350 gallons of water per day for indoor use, primarily because their wells reach deep enough to tap into an aquifer that partly feeds the Stillaguamish River.  Read more here.

Incremental Stealth Social Change To Lock Up The Nooksack River And Its Roads
Move over Whatcom County Parks there is a new game in town! A few weeks back I received this email invitation to attend a planning meeting for the Upper Nooksack River Recreation Area.  Of course I had to stop in to find out what was going on!  I found out that two things are going on simultaneously.  One, a group called "Hydropower Reform Coalition" is hoping to get portions of the Nooksack listed as a "Wild and Scenic River".  Second, this same group along with the group "American Rivers" are working on a recreation plan for the area. Read more here.

Incremental Stealth Social Change: The Evil Genius Of Sustainable Development
On July 23, 2004, I addressed the fifth annual Freedom 21 Conference in Reno, Nevada. Freedom 21 was the first coalition of limited government/private property advocacy groups. Freedom 21 eventually sponsored 10 national conferences and educated and trained a cadre of leaders to fight Agenda 21. But in 2004, George Bush was in the White House two years after the devastation to individual liberty, free enterprise and private property that defined the Clinton Presidency. Yet, pre-TEA Party, so many Americans failed to understand the threat they faced. The movement was divided into fractured issues. Even the major Conservative organizations refused to mention Agenda 21 (some still do). - See more at:
On July 23, 2004, I addressed the fifth annual Freedom 21 Conference in Reno, Nevada. Freedom 21 was the first coalition of limited government/private property advocacy groups. Freedom 21 eventually sponsored 10 national conferences and educated and trained a cadre of leaders to fight Agenda 21. But in 2004, George Bush was in the White House two years after the devastation to individual liberty, free enterprise and private property that defined the Clinton Presidency. Yet, pre-TEA Party, so many Americans failed to understand the threat they faced. The movement was divided into fractured issues. Even the major Conservative organizations refused to mention Agenda 21 (some still do). Read more here.
On July 23, 2004, I addressed the fifth annual Freedom 21 Conference in Reno, Nevada. Freedom 21 was the first coalition of limited government/private property advocacy groups. Freedom 21 eventually sponsored 10 national conferences and educated and trained a cadre of leaders to fight Agenda 21. But in 2004, George Bush was in the White House two years after the devastation to individual liberty, free enterprise and private property that defined the Clinton Presidency. Yet, pre-TEA Party, so many Americans failed to understand the threat they faced. The movement was divided into fractured issues. Even the major Conservative organizations refused to mention Agenda 21 (some still do). - See more at:
On July 23, 2004, I addressed the fifth annual Freedom 21 Conference in Reno, Nevada. Freedom 21 was the first coalition of limited government/private property advocacy groups. Freedom 21 eventually sponsored 10 national conferences and educated and trained a cadre of leaders to fight Agenda 21. But in 2004, George Bush was in the White House two years after the devastation to individual liberty, free enterprise and private property that defined the Clinton Presidency. Yet, pre-TEA Party, so many Americans failed to understand the threat they faced. The movement was divided into fractured issues. Even the major Conservative organizations refused to mention Agenda 21 (some still do). - See more at:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Update from Sen. Kevin Ranker - 11/22/13

 November 22, 2013
 Dear Neighbors,

This week is the unofficial start of the 2014 session. Your legislators are back here in Olympia, discussing priorities for the upcoming session.

I was part of one such meeting Thursday morning in which members of the Senate Democrats’ leadership team talked about our shared goals and the key issues facing our communities and our state.

Today the primary focus was on transportation. Whether we’re discussing ferries, roads, bridges or other infrastructure improvements, transportation funding is absolutely critical to our area. The Senate’s Transportation Committee today held a work session to discuss the Republican’s transportation package. I’m glad to see that those who blocked passage of a transportation package only months ago are now beginning to the vast majority of Washingtonians about the need for such a package.

I’m hopeful, as are my Democratic colleagues, that Senate Republicans will continue to negotiate in good faith and put forth a plan that can carry support from Republicans and Democrats alike.

Another priority, and the topic that typically dominates all discussions, is the absolute need to continue to modernize our state’s education system and establish dedicated funding sources. We can not teach our children with a decades-old model and level of funding and expect our state to continue to be competitive with our children being college-ready.

One such successful program that modernizes our educational system that I would like to see expanded is the Teacher/Principal Evaluation Project (TPEP). This program was created in 2010 by the passage of SB 6696, of which I was a proud co-sponsor and negotiator. The legislation established new methods to evaluate teachers and principals to ensure our children are learning from educators of the highest quality. This program is underway in Anacortes and other areas and our children would benefit from its expansion to more classrooms in our communities around state.

Improvements to education will always be a top priority, and paying for these programs is equally important. That leads us to the budget. This year we will work on a supplement to the much larger operating budget we passed at the conclusion of last session. While we do not expect significant budgetary changes, fully engaging in the budget discussions is critical to ensuring we protect and advance those issues that matter most to our communities. 

I want to hear from you as we begin this discussion. We need to advance a budget that reflects the shared vales of our communities and state. Not one that takes money from one program to pay for another, but one that thoughtfully considers the priorities of our communities – making sure our communities, and our economies, are healthy.

I look forward to hearing from you as these discussions progress.

All the best,


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Food Fights

I am sitting in a hotel room tonight, soaking in the sounds of Haydn and Bach while unwinding after a day of meetings. 187 voting Farm Bureau delegates from 25 counties in Washington State are also settling into their hotel rooms in Yakima tonight. It was a busy, productive, well organized day.

Why would five hundred farmers, business owners, agency staffers and family members take three days out of their work week to sit in a large hall and craft agricultural public policies? Maybe it is the fine food? The pleasant talk of old friends? The entertainment? The world class convention center facilities? The fabulous salaries farmers [don’t] make?

Public policy. Do you think in the abstract? Can you draw a blueprint for a house? A diagram of your vegetable garden? Can you write a love letter? A song? A check? We go to school to learn to read, write and count. At least most of us.

Public policy is important to food. Is food important to you? Then you should care about public agricultural policy, words that define how your food will be grown.

Do you know the dad who grew your potatoes? The mom who keeps the family books for the farm that grew the grain that became flour for your bread? Do you know the children of the orchardist who harvested the apricots in the fruit smoothie you are drinking right now? Do you know the insurance man who paid out for the rain spoiled cherries that never got to your table this year?

Do you know the lobbyist and the senator and the lawyer who teamed up to pass legislation to fund a balanced water management plan? A plan that will provide river water for both irrigation and fish habitat in the Yakima valley in years to come? Do you know the representative who wrote the new law that requires Washington government agencies to fully footnote the “best science” that underpins their policies? What a novel thought!

Do you know how many successful joint tribal/farmer agricultural management plans are already or almost in place in Washington State today? Do you know how many upper river, flood controlling and water conserving dams tribal groups have committed to seeing built?

 Do you know how many diabetics today inject quality, low cost insulin harvested from genetically modified bacterial cultures? Do you know both the dangers AND successes of modern agricultural farm interventions? Do you know how farmers are successfully adapting to changing rainfalls, temperatures, and pest migrations? Can you see the tilth in the field your facebook page will never speed past?

Probably not!

Do you know the millionaire who tears at agriculture and industry with a knife of hostility? Do you know the news editor who prefers stories pitting tribal aquaculture against dairy farmers? Do you know the government agents who travel field and stream profiling farmers and loggers who MAY pollute—some day. Do you know the environmental activists whose frivolous listing of poorly defined endangered species is really designed to target, take and idle the farm land that was used to grow the food you ate today?

Do you know the government agents who drive an adversarial wedge between reluctant tribal elders and their neighboring towns? Do you know the tribal elders who are stepping up to mitigate the havoc easy government money and drugs are wreaking on their youth?

Do you know the college professors who demonize the people who grow your food and cut the wood for your shelter? Who teach for a day when property is not private and families are not traditional?


There was a day when public agricultural policy was a simple statement of what the whole culture lived out every day. The closest farms were just a mile or two from the towns they fed. The farmer was your dad, your uncle, or your brother. Then things changed. Now, growing food is a distant and dim reality, and public agricultural policy is often an ideological food fight in halls of power and education.

Today, with one hand the social activist eats the food we grow, and with the other hand they pen public policy which destroys us. Therefore, I am in Yakima with Washington farmers today, and we voted for policies that Farm Bureau lobbyists and legal foundations will promote in the Washington State House and Senate this next year.

Today, we considered the very real gap between public who eat our food in sanitized cities, and ourselves who secure that food in distant, harsh and unpredictable conditions. Today, we brainstormed for ways to penetrate the barrier set up by hostile media and educators and environmentalists between ourselves and tomorrow’s leaders, even our own children.

Today, we worked on public policy. Tomorrow, we will feed you. The next day? You may need to grow your own food. Now, having you or your children working in a field might be the best idea yet!

-- JK

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Who Best Empowers to Earn, Learn and Share?

A number of years ago, I saw a sequence of five fools.

The simple fool knows nothing and must learn everything. After touching the hot burner the first time, his simplicity begins to evaporate. He has no clue about money.

The rebellious fool is sure that authority figures are stupid. After a love in with the faux freedom of the tramp, this fool returns and submits. He feels the bite of no money.

The partying fool is a harder case. Often sustained by a wealthy parent or a welfare entitlement, this person lives a brassy, indulgent lifestyle until the money runs out. Then he weeps and grasps and swears. His money came easy and went easy.

A mocking fool has a power that is often irresistible. “Capping” (capitalizing) on other’s misfortunes or eccentricities, this fool is king of the playground and talkshow, an irrepressible and puckish comedian, quick to spin lies into truth and drive the honest away under a hail of laughter. Wickedly biting when confronted, this fool usually ends up in some prison of life. He may have a lot of money, but it is very bitter.

The committed fool is the toughest bird. Smart, diligent, patient and conniving, he ascends to roosts of power, using other fools to achieve his “divine” ends. Seemingly infallible, he rots away in private, living a public lie. Here is the hippie professor, the embedded lawyer, the career politician/lobbyist, the uber rich movie or corporate jet setter. This fool trades in taxes, grants, stocks, commodities, pleasures, carbon credits, and the souls of men. He profits smartly in war or peace, in socialism or capitalism, and proudly mocks life after death to his own peril.

A couple of days ago, I went to a conference designed to empower entrepreneurs.

Mark Burnett was there to keynote his rags to riches story. Did you know that the producer of “Survivor”, “The Voice”, “Apprentice”  and the recent co-producer with Roma Downey of the surprise major hit mini-series, “The Bible”spent the first two years of life in America as a nanny to a Hollywood millionaire. How is that for an entrepreneurial cocoon? His first business was selling t-shirts after renting a few feet of fence space on a California beach.

I was invited to this conference by a local business tycoon who loves to make and give money. He has embedded a passion for excellence and giving in his sons, one of whom spent years in southern Europe, helping survivors of the recent ethnic wars to regain a livelihood. The son helped families build very low cost greenhouses, and then apply cutting edge plant technologies to grow food ahead of season for hungry urban markets.

For me, the most interesting insight of this conference for me was not Mark Burnett. Rather, it was a presentation of a less known social change businessman, examining a major world phenomenon, cocooning and accelerating entrepreneurs in markets of war or poverty torn nations.

Is the United States a poverty torn nation? It appears to be coming such. At any rate, entrepreneurial acceleration is a hot topic everywhere. For example, groups like UnitingCreatives (Bellingham) have as a core component the acceleration of entrepreneurs. I asked John Priddy, CEO of Priddy Brothers and chairman of Full Circle Exchange his opinion of university driven entrepreneurial incubators.

Full Circle Exchange “…empower(s)women and whole communities to rise above poverty through economic opportunities that are sustainable and dignified". The case in point? Rwanda. A country that saw millions of fathers wiped out in a few months of genocidal warfare in the early 1990’s, Rwanda became a nation of widows and orphans.

Full Circle Exchange partnered years ago with two Rwandan sisters whose passion, after God and family, was business and social change. Today, 4000+ women in 52 cooperatives produce quality crafts for world markets. Supported by retailers like WalMart and Macy’s, FCE has brought hope and sustainable living back to Rwanda.

Seed money separates two competing models of entrepreneurial acceleration. University/non profit based entrepreneurial accelerators live and die by grants and donations, where significant funds are diverted to the salaries of professors/facilitators and their corporate supply line. Tax or donor based, this model is usually big and splashy, inefficient and regularly inscrutable.

Market supported, business profit funded entrepreneurial accelerators provide small loans to individual cash strapped entrepreneurs themselves (not their “teachers”). Loans not paid back can be written off as charitable gifts. Accelerator overhead is much smaller, and quick, quiet independence of new entrepreneurs is the focus of training, not reports to donors by the trainers. Evaluation is constant, and failed ideas are very quickly scrapped.

What about co-op  or church driven entrepreneurial social change accelerators? I finish with this story. A Whatcom County church was approached by a local businessman who wanted to have a community garden. The produce would be given to the local food bank. Dozens of volunteers signed up to man the greenhouses. The reality? The businessman and three helpers currently do most of the work.

I asked the businessman, why not treat the volunteers as budding entrepreneurs? Why use a donor model? After growing a “loan” of lettuce plugs, why not allow young helpers to share some produce with the food bank, convert the rest to cash, paying back the loan, giving some cash away, and taking some cash home? Is that “dirt-y” money? (Pun intended).

Co-ops and churches operate with a segregated, manager:supporter based model. Buyers or donors feel good when they buy or give, but cross discipline insights come much harder and slower. The scalpel of change is easily “lost” by elected managers and ministers.

On the other hand, market supported social change activists check profits constantly, and with that momentum, intimately and frequently measure the social benefits they are providing. Entrepreneurs see profit checks and balances as keys to growth, not disturbances to equilibrium. They drive hard to give a hand up, not a hand-out.

Note One: not all entrepreneurs have huge profit margins. Social change businessmen often have much less glamorous bottom lines than large scale urban village property developers.

Note Two:  federal and state “nanny-state” minor work laws significantly limit youthful exposure to entrepreneurs. Up with sitting under professors. Down with working beside entrepreneurs. Does Froebel’s “play alone is a child’s work” model actually lower our quality of life? Is the communitarian, urban  lifestyle an advance or a regression? Does social equity flourish in well watered communitarian hot houses, or in rough, independent resource areas?

Note Three: A new idea is benefit corporations. Are they good? If solely driven by entrepreneurs, probably. If, as is more likely, a tool for non-profits to fleece entrepreneurs and to feather the nests of public:private partners, probably not. There are reasons for policies limiting insider trading and no-bid government contracts.

What do you think? Are professors indispensable to social improvement and entrepreneurial acceleration? Do non-profit environmental community organizers really provide the best community model? Are all businessmen greedy, polluting scum? How should these sectors be balanced off in public policy? Is the protection of welfare agencies the first priority in government legislation? Does proposed legislation fill the coffers of the predatorial “committed fools” described above?

I know what I think. That is why we push our children to see wisdom and folly in “money” at all levels, to challenge BOTH non-profit environmental activists AND businessmen, and to change culture as entrepreneurs first, and then, maybe as college professors, co-op leaders, social service case managers or religious ministers.

-- JK