The SANDBOX
                Issue 80, September 9, 2000

               Great American Conversations
       With the Alumni of Richland High School,
                AKA Columbia High School
                    Richland, Washington


    "I'm proof against that word failure, I've seen
 behind it. The only failure a man ought to fear is
 failure in cleaving to the purpose he sees to be
 best."
                     - George Elliot

Look Who's Talking Today:
                Mary (Ray) Henslee (61)
    Bob Carlson (aka "Mike Clowes") '54, 
                     Jack Grouell '61


Subj:   Don't Mess With Texas
From:  Mary (Ray) Henslee (61)
mah@satx.net

Paul Ratsch (58), it is my guess that you have never
 been to Texas or you would know that we Texans
 enjoy a very low cost of living.  It is probably one
 of the lowest in the nation.  More people here
 enjoy above average living conditions than in
 Washington or California, especially California. 
 While even the affluent are living in less than
 adequate homes in California, people in Texas are
 paying the same price to live in upper-class
 neighborhoods where the houses range from 3000
 to 4000 square feet in size.  The cost of living in
 Washington State is much higher than here also. 
 Blue-collar workers can afford to live very nicely
 here and they do not pay more than their fair share
 of the taxes, as you seem to think.  We do not have
 a state income tax that drains the poor and middle
 class of their wages.  One is only taxed if they own
 property and it is based on the appraised value of
 the property.  The rich pay the most by virtue of
 the fact that they live in higher priced homes. 

Texas probably has the best highway system in this
 country.  We also have excellent schools that are
 not falling down and endangering our children as
 Vice President Gore tried to portray in his speech
 at the Democratic National Convention.  If
 Governor Bush had been from another state, I am
 sure that he would have picked a school in that
 state to zero in on.  In my opinion that segment of
 his speech was a subtle way to discredit Bush and
 Texas without being accused of taking a direct
 shot.  A Bond has already been passed to renovate
 or rebuild the school in question.  

We pay far less for gasoline and license plates than
 most places, leaving more money in our pocket to
 afford the better things in life.

I would suggest that you or anyone else that is
 under such a misconception check out
 Homefair.com on the web.  This site will give you
 all of the information that you need to compare the
 cost of living in any town or state.  It will compare
 what your wages need to be to achieve the same
 standard of living anywhere in this country.  You
 will probably end up wishing that were so lucky.

I think that the stock market is the pulse of this
 nation right now because it encompasses a vast
 number of people from every ethnic, age, and
 economic group as it never has before.  If Bush
 starts leading in the polls, the stock market will
 rally because fear of big government's attacks on
 big business will diminish.  

I don't think that this country is as well off right
 now as this administration would have us believe. 
 Many companies are still downsizing and it takes
 two salaries and longer hours for a family to make
 ends meet.  The high cost of groceries makes it
 near impossible to plan a healthy diet for most
 people.  Health Insurance is out of reach for most
 people and under Gore that cost would go up after
 he wages his attack against HMO's.  

I think that this administration underestimates the
 intelligence of the American people or relies on
 those that don't bother to become informed.  To
 say that we need to spend taxpayer dollars so that
 the elderly can buy their prescription medicine is
 ludicrous.  Supplemental insurance to Medicare
 costs next to nothing for the elderly.  The elderly
 are the only segment of our society right now that
 can enjoy adequate health care at very little cost. 
 My mother pays $30 a month for the top Humana
 supplemental policy and she only pays a small
 CO-payment for all of her medication and doctor
 visits.  With Secure Horizons there is no premium
 to pay because the cost is taken out of one's
 Medicare payment.  There are many other
 insurance programs available too numerous to
 mention.  When my mother had a stroke she
 received topnotch care in one of the best hospitals
 in town under her present HMO, with no out of
 pocket expenses or forms to fill out.  There are
 insurance companies that do try to rip-off the
 elderly and before the family took over her affairs
 she was paying $300 a month for a policy that was
 not an HMO.  Without HMO's the elderly would
 need to rely solely on the taxpayers because
 Medicare supplemental insurance would be too
 costly for many to afford.  Why aren't the elderly
 being informed that affordable Medicare
 supplemental insurance is available to them instead
 of being led to believe that the government's help is
 their only option?  What good is it for the elderly
 to have government paid prescriptions if their
 Medicare is not adequate enough to pay for their
 medical procedures?  It would make more sense to
 me to provide the elderly who cannot afford
 supplemental insurance with some sort of tax
 credit to help pay for their insurance premium. 
 This would not only ensure them the prescriptions
 that they need, but other health care as well. 

The Estate Tax is a criminal tax that needs to be
 abolished and to say abolishment would only serve
 to benefit the rich is ludicrous.  Due to 401K's and
 other available investments, the percentage of
 estates subject to the tax will balloon in the future. 
 It is feasible for almost everyone today down to the
 lowest paid people to leave at least a million dollar
 estate and probably more because many are
 starting to plan for retirement earlier in life than
 ever before.  Realistically it is not the person
 leaving an estate that is affected by this tax, it is
 their heirs.  A person's heirs may be small children
 who still need to be raised and educated; a spouse
 with little earning capacity; a handicapped family
 member; heirs who wish to continue a family
 business; or just love ones who deserve to reap the
 rewards of what is left from a person's lifetime of
 hard work.  Use winning the lottery as an example. 
 The government would take a large portion of
 your winnings right up front and then when you
 die they will take half of what is left.  In the end
 the government manages to get most of it.  The
 situation is no different with your 401K, IRA, or
 other assets that have already been taxed to the hilt
 before they ever become part of your estate. 
 George Bush has stated that he is for repealing the
 estate tax.  If he were in office right now, the
 estate tax repeal bill would not have been vetoed. 
 The estate tax was originally instituted to pay off
 World War I debts.  After the debts were paid, it
 was never taken off the books.  It is high time that
 the American people challenge its continued
 legitimacy.

If a candidate has good common sense and
 character, things will fall into place and issues will
 be addressed to our satisfaction.  If a candidate is
 for the people, he or she should be for all of the
 people.  For Gore to say that he is not for big
 people, but only for the common people, is to say
 that the common people risk alienation from the
 populace if they strive to rise through the ranks.  I
 don't think Robin Hood economics will keep our
 economy thriving.  Hopefully both candidates will
 run a campaign over the next few months that will
 give us the insight that we need to make the right
 choice.  

I challenge anyone to come up with a place with a
 lower cost of living and a better salsa and
 basketball team than Texas.  Perhaps Shippenville?
 
Mary (Ray) Henslee (61)

                             ~ ~ ~

Subj: Day's Pay
From: Jack Grouell '61
grouells@millenicom.com

Late in WW II when the Allies had managed to
 gain almost complete air superiority in the skies
 over Europe, the United States eliminated
 camouflage paint an almost all combat aircraft to
 save weight and reduce drag.  Wing, Group, and
 Squadron markings became extremely colorful on
 the natural aluminum finish.

In the book "The Mighty Eighth" (Roger A.
 Freeman LOC 72-76476) Illustrator John B.
 Rabbets presents several pages of drawings
 showing these brilliantly colored airplanes.  Of
 particular interest are the B-17's of the 94th Bomb
 Group with bright yellow vertical and horizontal
 tails and wing tips, red cowls, and a red chevron on
 the starboard wing.  A visit to the 94th Bomb
 Group web page 
(http://www.94thbombgroup.com/94thB-17sNames-NumbersD-E94.htm) also lists 
that a B-17 named
 "Days Pay" served in that outfit.  The artist must
 have done some research to have come up with
 that data.

                       - Jack Grouell '61

                                ~ ~ ~

Subj:   Those Conventions
From: Bob Carlson (aka "Mike Clowes") '54
bobs@proaxis.com (Robert Carlson)

Well, are you all as thrilled as I am? 
 Weren't those conventions suspenseful? Ho hum.

Guess most of you young folk don't remember
 when listening to or watching a political
 convention used to be fun.  There was suspense,
 there were people who had something to say.  Not
 just the same speech delivered differently.

When was the last time there was a good "floor
 fight?"  No, I don't mean when Dan Rather or John
 Chancellor got thrown out.  I mean a good, honest 
 floor fight over credentials or a plank in the party's
 platform.  There was something in those that the
 analysts could maybe tell who might win the 
 nomination.

The first year I ever really listened to what was
 going on was 1948.  The Republicans were
 fighting over Taft or Dewey, with a little Stassen
 thrown in.  It really was interesting to hear which
 delegates might cave in and give the nod to one
 or the other.  (In reality, Stassen never stood a
 chance.)  In the end the fellow Alice Roosevelt
 Longworth described as the fellow on top of the
 wedding cake won.

The issue wasn't in too much doubt in the
 Democrat's camp; except that the Dixiecrats
 (southern republicans disguised as democrats)
 walked out over the issue of "States Rights" (read
 segregation).  The fun came when the talking
 heads tried to predict who Truman's running mate
 would be.

And to top it all off, there was the Progressive
 Party.  They were as much fun as a Pat Buchanan
 labor rally.  The former Vice President (whom J. 
 Edgar Hover said was a direct pipeline to
 Moscow), Henry Wallace was the nominee, some
 fellow from Idaho was his running mate.

Then came the campaign.  Dewey and his cohort,
 Earl Warren, then Governor of California,
 meandered about the country in a leisurely fashion,
 not really saying or doing much.

Truman stumped the country from the back of a
 train, speaking at every whistle stop and water
 tank along the way.  He didn't brag about his own 
 virtues, but instead railed against the 89th
 Congress for doing nothing.  It was a Republican
 controlled group and they really did nothing.

Even 1952 was fun.  Would the Republicans
 nominate Taft or would they "like Ike?" 
 And what about the Dem's?  Truman wasn't going
 to run again, so the nomination was really up for
 grabs.

The big issue during this campaign was Korea.  Ike
 said he would go and put a stop to the fighting if
 he were elected.  Everybody else in the Republican
 Party came down on Harry for firing MacArthur,
 so guess who won?  Well, Stevenson wasn't that
 glamorous a candidate, too cerebral.

So, what do we get now, packaged pap from both
 parties, and since Jessie "The Body" Ventura said
 he wasn't interested the whole campaign becomes a 
 crashing bore.  Wait a minute, that sounds like
 both major candidates.  And did they ever whip the
 country into a frenzy.

Could Chicago, 1964, be to blame?  Probably
 scared the stuffing out of both parties.  Can't have
 that sort of thing, bad for the image and all that. 
 So what did they come up with, two hours (more
 or less) of prime time gunk.  Is it so surprising that
 reruns of "Gilligan's Island" on Nick-at-Night had
 higher ratings.

And you wonder why there is voter apathy.

I fully expect to hear from Dick Epler, '52, about
 this.  But he lived through those "fun" years also. 
 We may not have agreed on the choice of 
 candidates, but I think we both had fun listening
 (on radio in '48) and watching (TV in '52).  But
 since Lyndon and Barry slugged it out, 
 conventions and campaigns have become more
 boring.  Maybe this is all retribution for General
 LeMay's comment about bombing someone back
 to the stone age.

My advice: Sit back, relax and "Just Vote No" on
 most tax measures.

      - Bob Carlson (aka "Mike Clowes") '54

                               ~ ~ ~

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