11/12/2008 – Editorials


By Richard Peterson

The election is over, thank goodness!

I was pleased to see that voters turned thumbs down on Measures 1 and

2 which would have cut income taxes and salted big sums of money away. We need money for investing in our infrastructure now — not some day in the future. We have many roads that need repair and bridges that need replacing.

The conservatives behind Measure 2 don’t want the wealthy to pay their fair share, so they targeted income taxes, the most fair tax of all. That’s typical conservative thinking, despite the fact that the state’s income tax rate is relatively low in the first place.

In contrast, the property tax is out of control. The defeat of these two measures means the legislature has the funds to enact some meaningful property tax relief.

Of every $100 collected in property taxes in Benson County in 2007, here is where the money went:

Schools $57.89

County 32.88

Townships 4.94

Cities & Parks 2.93

Fire Districts 1.07

State Medical School .29

Total $100.00

The political subdivisions listed above depend on property taxes.

Each of these entities need every penny of property tax they are receiving, so if there is going to be any property tax relief, the state needs to shoulder the difference.

I served on a city council for eight years and I watch the county commissioners struggle with finances at every meeting and I can guarantee there isn’t any wild spending going on at these two levels.

I doubt there’s wild spending in any of the other political subdivisions. Most are just scraping by as best they can with what little they have. Many townships, for instance, don’t have enough money to gravel their roads. In some cases this is because the townships aren’t levying enough but the cost of steel, fuel and gravel have skyrocketed and even those townships levying the maximum are challenged to cover costs.

So the know-nothings who say they should just spend less reveal their ignorance. They simply don’t know what they’re talking about.

At minimum we need a state revenue sharing program for counties, townships and cities and the state simply has to provide more funding for primary and secondary education. This funding should be coupled to a requirement for reducing property taxes.

The state also needs to put a stop to tuition increases for higher education. Any additional money for higher education should be balanced with tuition decreases, or at least a moratorium or a limit on tuition increases.

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This came in an e-mail:

The other day I picked up a copy of his essay collection, "Tom Dodge Talks About Texas." Well, one of those little pieces was about Big Jim Tidwell of Whitney — "The Fender Skirt King of Texas."

And I thought, "Fender skirts!" What a great blast from the past! I hadn’t thought about fender skirts in years. When I was a kid, I considered it such a funny term. Made me think of a car in a dress.

Thinking about fender skirts started me thinking about other words that quietly disappear from our language with hardly a notice. Like "curb feelers" and "steering knobs."

Since I’d been thinking of cars, my mind naturally went that direction first. You kids will probably have to find some elderly person over 50 to explain some of these terms to you.

Remember "Continental kits?" They were rear bumper extenders and spare tire covers that were supposed to make any car as cool as a Lincoln Continental.

When did we quit calling them "emergency brakes?" At some point "parking brake" became the proper term. But I miss the hint of drama that went with "emergency brake." I’m sad, too, that almost all the old folks are gone who would call the accelerator the "foot feed."

Here’s a phrase I heard all the time in my youth but never anymore — "store-bought." Of course, just about everything is store-bought these days. But once it was bragging material to have a store-bought dress or a store-bought bag of candy.

"Coast-to-coast" is a phrase that once held all sorts of excitement and now means almost nothing. Now we take the term "worldwide" for granted. This floors me.

On a smaller scale, "wall-to-wall" was once a magical term in our homes. In the 1950s everyone covered their hardwood floors with — wow — wall-to-wall carpeting! Today, everyone replaces their wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors. Go figure.

When’s the last time you heard the quaint phrase "in a family way?"

It’s hard to imagine that the word "pregnant" was once considered a little too graphic, a little too clinical for use in polite company.

So we had all that talk about stork visits and "being in a family way" or simply "expecting."

Apparently "brassiere" is a word no longer in usage. I said it the other day and my daughter cackled. I guess it’s just "bra" now.

"Unmentionables" probably wouldn’t be understood at all. It’s hard to recall that this word was once said in a whisper — "divorce." And no one is called a "divorcee" anymore. Certainly not a "gay divorcee."

Come to think of it, "confirmed bachelors" and "career girls" are long gone, too.

Most of these words go back to the 1950s, but here’s a pure 1960s word I came across the other day — "rat fink." Ooh, what a nasty put-down!

Here’s a word I miss — "percolator." That was just a fun word to say. And what was it replaced with? "Coffeemaker." How dull. Mr.

Coffee, I blame you for this. I miss those made-up marketing words that were meant to sound so modern and now sound so retro. Words like "DynaFlow" and "ElectraLuxe." Introducing the 1963 Admiral TV, now with "SpectraVision!"

Food for thought. Was there a telethon that wiped out lumbago? Nobody complains of that anymore. Maybe that’s what castor oil cured, because I never hear mothers threatening their kids with castor oil anymore.

Some words aren’t gone, but are definitely on the endangered list.

The one that grieves me most — "supper." Save a great word. Invite someone to supper. Discuss fender skirts.


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