Peninsula Views: Devils Head Diary

It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again


Election season is creeping up on us and, unsurprisingly, tribal power games are becoming more inflammatory. Hair-on-fire-reporting fills the airwaves, and my hair is getting singed.

For distraction, I watch old Westerns. You know the formula. The territory is “governed” by a greedy, iron-handed autocrat. The townsfolk, saloon owners, settlers, gold miners and the like, cower in fear of financial ruin enforced by the threat of violence. A gun-slinging hero rides into town armed with his own brand of brutality. After multiple whiskies, multiple shoot-outs and multiple cold-blooded murders, “Voilà!” a new type of justice prevails. Might makes right!

Strange to say, but it seems like those Wild West themes are being revived as “values.”

Turn back the clock to the good old days when men were men and women were window dressing, racism was “natural” and white male rule was guaranteed. I cringe every time a politician natters on about restoring the original intent of the Founding Fathers.

“History repeats itself. So, you might wanna pay attention.” — Quavo

It took 144 years for women to get the vote. It took another 43 for women to garner enough power to move the equity needle.

When working my way through college in the late 1950s, I could expect to pocket 60 cents, while a guy doing the same job would get a whole dollar. With the passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, half the country cheered the end of gender discrimination in the workplace. Sixty years later, women average 82 cents to the male dollar. Wow! That is almost a gain of 4 cents a decade! At this rate it should only take another 30 years for my granddaughters to see the equal pay promise fulfilled!

It is a dismal fact that the male to female wage gap is even greater if you happen to be subject to racial bias as well.

But there are causes for rejoicing. For the last 45 years, pregnancy was no longer a legitimate justification for firing an employee, and for just the last 13 years, charging women more for personal health care insurance has been illegal. Of course, this perk may provide minimal benefit in states where women and children have lost full access to health care options.

“History repeats itself because nobody listens the first time” — Erik Qualman

Face it: Young people are expensive. Ensuring that even the poorest children have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is an enormous burden. Imagine the savings if benefits for food, shelter and medical care were withheld. Survival-of-the-fittest policies may lead to shortages in drudge job workers, but there is always the option of importing labor. It worked well for the Founding Fathers until the practice led to a messy civil war. But kids don’t need to know about that.

And some other brilliant plans are afoot to save tons of money by trimming, if not eliminating, old age benefits. Although my generation paid into the system, due to unfortunate medical advances we tend to hang around a lot longer than we were supposed to.

But in another blast from the past, we’ve revived an old method of ridding ourselves of the very young, old and otherwise unlucky. Since the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004, mass shootings in the U.S. have increased by 184%. And that doesn’t count all the other shootings — the highest in three decades — where three or fewer people were murdered.

Sadly, just offering thoughts and prayers without legislative action is not cost-effective. Assault weapons inflict incomprehensible bodily and emotional wounds at an onerous cost. Although Washington state is on the verge of limiting access to such weapons (House Bill 1240), I do not want to deprive anyone of gun ownership. I actually agree with the Founding Fathers, people should be able to have all the flintlock pistols and muzzleloaders they want. Just like the good old days.

“Each time history repeats itself, the price goes up” — Ronald Wright

Award-winning columnist Carolyn Wiley lives quietly, for the most part, in Longbranch.