The Working Man

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
And woman, those who have them get up and go to jobs every day to pay taxes, mortgage or rent payments, utilities, insurance premiums, and anything else necessary to keep food on their tables and a roof over their heads. Oh yeah, they also have to pick up the tab for the good times of our elected "leaders"... taxpayer funds confiscated with the power of a government gun then wasted, spent frivolously on a welfare system, one example, whose recipients received a 30 percent payments increase in recent years while our nation's finest have had pay increase and benefit cuts.
This, not to mention humongous civilian government salary and benefit packages while those who ensure they can sleep peacefully at night are sent into harm's way with rules of engagement not much better than requiring them to request permission to shoot back when fired upon.

While our President bloviates about consequences to Russians, Russia's President Putin looks him in the eye and responds "I'll take your lunch money," figuratively if not literally. One might easily anticipate such a response by a man with black belts in Judo and Karate, who rides a horse in a breechclout, toward an antagonist who rides a girl's bicycle wearing a frufru helmet.

But isn't this merely indicative of our elitist government? They do, after all, know better than those of us who go to work every day and conduct our own affairs responsibly while they convert good air into carbon dioxide and other noxious gases that drive the greenies crazy, don't they.

Closer to home, sort of, our Tennessee senators... what of them? Senator Alexander has, to be sure, built significant personal wealth... by taking advantage of opportunities not available to the average working schlub and who, time and time again, has supported tax increases for his homies both at the state and federal levels. Then there's Senator Corker, who I had to defend recently when someone wrote and referred to him as "Kiss-'n-Tell Bob." I may not think much of his negotiating skills, but when we stoop to name calling we automatically lose the debate, don't we, and I had to gently chastise my e-mail bud about this. The good Senator's conduct toward others, however, the blatant bullying tactics toward those with whom he disagrees, is nothing more than Napoleonic, isn't it. Should we also remember how easy it is for someone who's never spent a day in the military, nor will any of his offspring serve if it ever comes to that, to call for immediate and severe consequences to Russians for intervening in their neighbor's affairs? Really? He's asking a guy who rides a girl's bicycle, with a frufru helmet, to stand up to a guy who'll take his lunch money away and smile doing it? How's that worked in Venezuela, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Korea, to name but a few? Here's a news flash - the IRS has no power except here in these United States of America, the greatest nation to ever grace the face of Planet Terra.

Working men and women... how many of us truly spend time interviewing and learning about those who would like us to elect them to office? For now we'll leave the issue of elective service versus leadership alone, but who among us really looks for and observes the little things indicative of who might be the best candidate for any particular office?

Hamilton County's Judge Bolton is stepping down from the bench this year, not running for re-election. I'll tell a story about our first meeting another time, but one must admire that she's serving out her term of office instead of doing the typical elected official deal of recent years... quit in the middle of the term so they can select a successor. If we think about that for just a moment, isn't serving out the term for which a candidate is elected the honorable thing to do? Shouldn't we, citizens, have an opportunity to meet candidates for elected office during their campaigns, to have candidates sell us on their qualifications rather than have one who has the advantage of being an appointed incumbent?

Shouldn't we have a right to expect our elected officials get out to meet the peeps during all campaigns? Where's Congressman Chuck? But I'm not sure we really need to encourage family dynasties either.

There are two candidates running for the Division 1 seat of our Hamilton County Circuit Court; J.B. Bennett, Esquire, and Catherine White, Esquire. Mr. Bennett, son of Hamilton County Assessor of Property and former County Commissioner Bill Bennett, is probably a nice enough guy. He certainly has the support of most of the establishment elite around the county, but what has he really done? He speaks of his family's commitment to Hamilton County. And? I was quite actively involved with HCGOP politics for 6 or 8 years before moving on to a project near and dear to my heart. I've never met Mr. Bennett, nor have I ever spoken to him. He was the Parliamentarian for one of the biennial HCGOP conventions I participated in, but I don't even remember seeing him there.

His opponent, on the other hand, came to practice law from the flank. Mrs. White began her career much like Judge Bolton, as a TV news reporter working the courthouse beat. She's perfectly comfortable, as is Mr. Bennett, with hair impeccably coiffed and nails manicured. But she's equally at ease in bluejeans, wind blown hair, tending to a curtain-climber or horse or dog or digging in the garden. Although her family has dogs, we really can't hold that frufru one against them. They do live in the city, for now, and it wouldn't be fair for real dogs to be kept in a pen. With a husband like hers it's easy to suspect she knows perfectly well the difference between the standing, kneeling, sitting, and prone firing positions with a rifle or pistola just as one might suspect her daughter has insisted she learn to let fly an arrow and hit her mark.

So who's more qualified to sit on a bench deciding the fate of real working people; a politician whose primary claim to fame is family political ties or someone who's actually worked down in the trenches, had to scrap around in the mud and the blood and the... uh... Merlot? I'm not sure Mrs. White's ever had real "bee-ah" in the German tradition, but it's easy to imagine she might know some of those taikoocharoochi moves more authentic than imitating Steve Martin performing his hit song King Tut.

I sure do miss working with Krauts. I earned a lot of money converting refrigerators into beer coolers that would maintain temperature at 45 degrees, plus or minus 1 degree F, and learned anything that must be served ice cold doesn't deserve to be called bee-ah.

Bill Hewlett and his accomplice David Packard founded the Hewlett-Packard Company based on an order for six (6) wide band, low distortion, audio oscillators from some cat in Anaheim, California who was developing a movie. His name was Disney. Mr. Hewlett won the coin toss they used to determine who got top billing and had a management philosophy he called "Management by Wandering Around." He visited each of their facilities every year and made a point to speak to each one of their employees in the process.

One might suspect Randy Fairbanks, another challenger of the establishment elite who's running for Hamilton County Commission in District 1, took a lesson from Mr. Hewlett. I don't know how many times I've been at an event somewhere, turned around, and there he was smiling and grinning. A Red Bank boy who's made good, he's a bona fide small business owner who works with other small businesses and sees the challenges they face daily. Randy gets out to see peeps, unlike his opponent Mr. Skillern, whose typical comment is "come by my office" when one of his constituents has an issue. I've never been to Mr. Skillern's office for two reasons; first, I don't want to be around a bunch of stuff imported from the Far East while listening to people complain about Wally World and second, there's always been that tone of "and be prepared to kiss the ring." I've never kissed anybody's ring, and don't plan on starting any time soon.

Standing up to the establishment elite is no more grandly epitomized than the County Commission race in Hamilton County District 7, a really interesting race so far as the candidates go.

Annexation is a big deal in that race. Mr. Perry Perkins seems to be very much opposed to forced annexation during the current campaign, but his stated position after tornadoes blew through Apison back in 2011 was entirely different if we take the time to read the Chattanooga City Council minutes of 10 May 2011, pages 31 and 32. Memory lapses such as this, in addition to support for former Sheriff Billy Long, indicate potential problems making choices affecting others, doesn't it. Is this what we want in an elected official?

Some of her opponents have attempted to make voters believe Mrs. Sabrena Turner is a single issue candidate, that issue being annexation. Many have even gone so far as to state that if elected she would pay more attention to county resident constituents than those who live inside the Chattanooga city limits. However, the last time I looked 1413 N. Concord Road is well within the city limits. Mrs. Turner owns that property and it's the location of her office. It's actually her second office site. The first was also in the city limits but was rented space. But if we look deeper into the issue of annexation, and actually ask the candidate pointed questions, we might discover that her opposition to forced annexation goes beyond the simple act of a municipality grabbing property for its tax value... all the way to government over reach in every facet of our daily lives. We have to ask, and she's more than approachable with all of her contact information readily available.

Then we have Mr. Phil Smartt who enjoys the support of all those members of the establishment elite, from both parties. I suppose former Chattanooga Mayor Jon Kinsey is still a Democrat. He's been one all his life, but he contributes significant campaign funds to Mr. Skillern over in District 1 too. Back to Mr. Smartt, didn't the WWTA implement fees so Signal Mountain residents could help pay for sewer improvements to East Ridge and East Ridge contribute to Soddy Daisy on his watch? Why would someone running for a local county office be asking for campaign contributions of as much as $1,500? And conducting a fundraising function with a minimum suggested contribution of $100? How much does one of those seats cost? Don't they belong to the people? And then his supporters complain about another candidate who was significantly involved with stopping annexation?

Shouldn't we also be asking that same question of a judicial candidate like Mr. Bennett? How much does one of those seats cost? Some day, some way, those pipers will expect repayment for those filet mignons BigBucks campaign contributors are making today. Who's going to be left holding the stinky ed of the stick when that happens?

It's those little things, things every working man and woman should be asking him or her self about every candidate we support and/or intend to vote for, shouldn't we.

But I'm not going to worry about any of that right now. My biggest concern is how to convince Ms. Sophie-Sophia and Ms. Sassy that rolling around in the neighbor's cow pasture absolutely does not make them smell pretty. Perhaps The Sparkster is right, that maybe it was a mistake to bring girls into our world.

Royce Burrage, Jr.

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