Here's an excerpt from the column ("America the Unfair?") by Nicholas Kristof:
Martine Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern University found that in policy-making, views of ordinary citizens essentially don't matter. They examined 1,779 policy issues and found that attitudes of wealthy people and of business groups mattered a great deal to the final outcome - but that the preferences of average citizens were almost irrelevant.
"In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule," they concluded. "Majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts."
One reason is that our political system is increasingly driven by money...Solutions are complex, imperfect and uncertain, but the biggest problem is not a lack of tools, but a lack of will.
It's the money, stupid. It makes people (politicians) stupid, does the (lust for) money. Money makes the world go round, and a lot of politicians would like to keep things spinning around so fast that everyone gets dizzy - and distracted.
Politicians use money to play on our hopes (More jobs! More money!) and our fears (Loss of jobs! Less money!). Money means prosperity, and prosperity is an acceptable proxy for morality, honesty, and any number of other harder to quantify traits we all supposedly want to see in our elected leaders.
Look no further than the article in today's PDN, with the EDC doling out "Olympic leaders" awards to the same circle of old white guys (Eric Lewis, Dan Wilder, Jr., Nathan West, Jerry Nichols, etc.) who have created and/or overseen the tremendous growth of absolutely nothing that typifies Port Angeles.
(Nathan) West told the audience that 2015 was a banner year for private-sector investment.
"We had 24 new businesses open their doors in Port Angeles," West said. "We're moving in the right direction."
How many times has Nathan West said that exact same thing in years past? Let me answer for you: Dozens of times, and quite possibly more. And yet, gee, the economy in Port Angeles continues to lag in essentially every way you can measure such things. The population continues to shrink. The only direction you're moving in, Nathan, is in every-smaller circles, spiraling down, down, down. How many of those "24 new businesses" from years past are still open, Nathan? Very few. How many of this last batch will make it? Very few, Nathan.
The Pinocchio of Port Angeles: The more he lies to you,
the bushier his beard gets.
He knows that. You know that. And Nathan knows that you know that. But it's part of his job, spinning fantasy - "More jobs! More money! Hurrah!" It provides cover to his supposed bosses on the City Council, and in turn, it covers his ass, since then they won't want to replace him. It's a perfect closed system, a circular firing squad.
Or, you could look at the other article in the PDN today, about how the EDC is now "the economic engine" of Clallam County. Again, it's the same tired cast of characters (Eric Lewis, Brad Collins, Hugh Haffner, John Calhoun, and ancient Orville Campbell, among others) spinning the same old BS. The only engine the EDC has gotten going is their own - they've hired a couple of staff people. Other than that - nothing. Zero. Zilch. Zip. Nothing. Nothing but BS.
And it all runs on, thrives on, and seeks out more...money.
So what happens if you cut down the flow of money to this sick, destructive beast? Might that not force it to change its behavior? It certainly would get its attention.
With that in mind, here's an idea to consider, for those of you who are utilities customers of the City of Port Angeles. As you know, every month, for years now, there are about a third of Port Angeles utility customers who can't, and therefore don't, pay their utility bills. This has been a persistent cash flow problem for the City, as well as a headache for staff.
Now, imagine what would happen if, say, another third of utilities customers started to only pay two-thirds of their utilities bills each month? I'm not talking about refusing to pay at all, mind you, just cutting down how much you pay for the duration, in order to send a message. And by sending a message, I mean literally sending a message. With each bill, you could send in your check for two-thirds of your bill, along with a note explaining that, "Since I do not have full confidence in the City's ability to govern responsibly, I am not paying my full bill this month."
Then, you just roll over a little extra in your savings for, say, six or eight months, and let the unpaid portion grow a little more each month, slowly starving the beast of funds until this City Council gets right with the community, or gets replaced.
Only sixty-seven cents of every dollar might drive them crazy...
I offer this suggestion because, obviously, facts don't work on this Council. Shaming doesn't work either, since the Fluoride Four clearly have no shame. But when you start tightening up the purse strings...Well, that's hitting them where it hurts, and it might just have a motivational effect on them over the course of a few months.
In any case, per the column referenced above, remember: There's no lack of tools, just a lack of will, when it comes to addressing these problems in our political system. So stay strong, stay vocal, and stay on them. When it comes to cracking many of the problems facing Port Angeles, it currently comes down to simply getting one - just one - of the Fluoride Four to crack, or to leave. Then you could have a majority to get things done, and fight against the death spiral of the status quo.