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8/19/2009 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

I’ve been reading a book about a Benson County native who became the chief executive officer of one of the nation’s largest worldwide airfreight forwarding companies in the world.

Entitled From the Plains . . . To Planes . . . And Other Plain Talk, it’s the life story of York native John Whalen. He is the youngest son of the late Emmet and Dolly Whalen. John Whalen is a brother of the late Herb Whalen, who was postmaster at York and the late Sie Whalen, who was well-known in the Knox-York-Leeds area. Sie’s widow Gloria, "Tootie" Whalen still lives in York.

His only living brother is Jim Whalen, who is also well known by farmers in Benson County. He worked at Moller’s in York for 22 years before retiring in Leeds in 2002.

John Whalen tells of growing up on a farm near York and how he hated farm life. He graduated from Leeds High School in 1956. In August of that year he left North Dakota for the West Coast to seek his fortune.

He tells of some of the characters he met in the business including one who was a shady fellow with a severe gambling problem. Whalen describes him as ". . . perhaps the most interesting, colorful, but manipulating person I have ever met."

In the book he tells of his failed business ventures before finally becoming self-employed in the freight forwarding business and on his way to becoming a multimillionaire. But the business nearly failed several times.

He tells of his marriage, his difficult divorce and of his daughter.

He also tells about finally realizing he was gay and his coming out of the closet. He and his partner, Gary Nelson, have been a couple for 30 years.

Benson County people will recognize many names of old-timers in the York area. Among those mentioned are Clarence Rude, who operated Rude’s Cash Store in York and Charlie Bisbee, the big man from York who bought and sold antiques. I remember both of them as being first-class characters.

But most of the book concentrates on Whalen’s activities in Washington state and Alaska.

As part of his job he traveled extensively. After his retirement at the age of 51 in 1990 he and Gary have traveled around the world and owned many homes and condominiums on the West Coast.

It’s a great success story.

The book is available online at http:/ Cost is

$19.99 for paperback and $29.99 for hardcover.


I’ve been studying the health care situation for years and have come to the conclusion that the health care plan that will be put together by Congress will be largely ineffective.

The plan that will ultimately be put together will leave the insurance companies with a stranglehold on the system. We’ll continue to shovel billions of dollars into the pockets of these middlemen who provide no health care. Why do so many people insist that the insurance industry continue to get its cut out of the system?

Because the alternative is government paying all the bills and using all the money that’s wasted on insurance company profits and outrageous CEO salaries and use it for health care.

Horrors! Socialism! We can’t have that here!

Surprise, surprise! We already have Socialism.

Social Security is a Socialistic program that has been adopted by our democracy. Is everyone who willingly accepts a Social Security check a Socialist?

Medicare is a Socialistic program that has also been adopted by our government. Is everyone who willingly accepts Medicare a Socialist?

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIPS) which pays the insurance premiums for the children of parents who can’t afford the premiums is a Socialistic program. It’s also a very good program that provides health care for children that ordinarily wouldn’t get medical care.

Medicaid is a program that provides health care for people who can’t afford health insurance premiums. It is a Socialistic program.

Conservatives look with disdain on the federal government as an organization that can’t do anything right. They are wrong! The above programs work very well despite the fact they are Socilistic programs. They are essential programs and the people who shout Socialism had better start campaigning to end Social Security.

The government provides our road system and does a good job of it.

The hated government managed to win World War II. It’s hard to believe the government was incompetent in that endeavor.

The primary reason the Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIPS programs are in financial distress is because of the high cost of medical care.

Something has to be done. There is no alternative.

Social Security is another story. The demographics of Social Security demand that 1) benefits be reduced; 2) Social Security taxes must be raised; 3) the age at which the benefits can be paid must be raised.

Maybe one of these will fix the problem, maybe a combination of them will do the trick.

After all, Ronald Reagan spearheaded raising Social Security taxes in

1983 and that fix is supposedly good to 2040. We’re going to have to do it again and there’s nothing wrong with that. Social Security is too important to our nation to abandon it.

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