Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wasted

I'm too simplistic. I like to see the big picture. I keep trying to paint one in my mind of what's going on. When an artist paints a landscape he needs a viewpoint. A viewpoint is the height from which the artist sees the subject they're painting. It determines where the horizon line is. A consistent horizon line is fundamental to accurate perspective. When I paint this picture in my mind there's no viewpoint, no consistent horizon, no perspective. It keeps resembling Evard Munch's painting " Scream." Does anyone else feel like the creature clutching his head in that strange picture?

I don't like to waste anything...you can ask my kids. If we had pot roast for supper you could bet that we'd be having roast beef sandwiches the next day and stew after that...and what wasn't eaten I froze. Discount stores were the norm, and the mall was pretty much off limits. I didn't have an outside job, (just a pretty intense inside one). That was my contribution to the family. For us it just made common sense to scrutinize every possible way to save a penny so I could stay home and raise our family.
In the past year I've watched dumb founded, at the lack of common sense and the " taste for waste" that is becoming the norm within our society.
The incidences I've personally encountered have become so numerous that I just decided to sit down and list them. My aggitation because of them has hit a crezendo.

I first witnessed willful slothfulness when I went to purchase a new pair of glasses last fall- just after the election and on the cusp of the first big government bailout. I sat in line for nearly two hours as I watched people in sloppy t-shirts, sweat pants and house shoes enter the office, wait maybe 10 minutes then waltz on back, government cards in hand, ahead of me. I didn't have a government "member's only" card. Don't get me wrong. I'd give you the shirt off my back if you asked me. But these people were rude and had an attitude of ingratitude. That incident got me going. My tax dollar was being wasted. Not only was I watching the government waste my tax dollar to pay for eye wear for individuals who hadn't had the gumption to get dressed before coming to town, I was also watching them pay off homes people had no business buying. All the while my kids and friends were struggling to pay off their home mortgages- husbands and wives both working their rear ends off to do so.

Another irritating waste problem concerns a water issue we've had for the past three years in a neighboring state. On our ranch which is located in this state, we have abundant water. Everyone wants that water, including a city that has been using it for years free of charge. We would like to have a little of it to irrigate an area of ground to raise alfalfa. Routine 8 hour round trips to the agency which decides the matter have resulted in us being ignored, lied to, threatened and told "no way-that area is over appropriated." A few months back I stumbled upon the fact that the city was knowingly wasting thousands of gallons of water a day because of old lines, and the agency which does the regulating was issuing permits all the while. That got me going too.

And yet more irritating tales. This summer we went through a fire on our ranch which destroyed over 50,000 acres of grass in our county. The outrageous encounters that came with the fire ended my naivete. During the days that followed the fire I was told by one government agency that no help could be expected for the fire victims-- urban areas only (i.e. New Orleans)- not rural, were the only ones that could seek assistance during a disaster. The director of that government agency asked me to help in gathering numbers on losses as he was understaffed. He also explained that his unit had to have two phone lines while in the fire field; one to orchestrate help for fighting the fire and one for reporting endangered wildlife species back to the main office. He was exasperated. After talking with that government agency I contacted another government agency asking questions about the cause of the fire. This conversation ended with the secretary of that government agency outraged at the director of the other government agency(which she had no affiliation with) all because he asked for my help. While these crazy conversations were taking place, over 50 local fire departments were doing all they could to keep the fire under control...until another government agency came to help...the head agency. This government agency insisted on pulling local fire fighters out of the field, away from fighting fire, to take inventory counts of all the firefighters. Local firefighters were exasperated when that help arrived. This was the same government agency that had earlier insisted on fighting with the other government agency.
Then to add insult to injury... A meeting was formed of all the landowners who had been affected by the fire. Another government agency attended that as well. They were there to help too. That meeting ended with an invitation to all of the farmers and ranchers in attendance who had lost cattle, fencing, houses, barns, and machinery to attend a Prescribed Burn Seminar??? And to add more insult to injury...that government agency director read the list of programs we could attend that coming Saturday. Among the list--- "Will Cedars Burn In July?????" Sound absurd? This is absolutely true.

And lately... While attending a serene place I go to escape from all of this waste and absurdity, I had yet another irritating encounter. A roaster full of chili which had been made to feed football boys wasn't used and was left in the refrigerator of this serene place. We don't have many helpers at this serene place. I usually make sure the frig is cleaned out there but I was gone for two weeks. On the second week when I returned and open the door I nearly fainted... the soup had rotted. Those who knew the soup had been left in the frig just shrugged and replied "Oh Well." $75.00 worth of chili wasted. My serenity disappeared.

And this weekend I attended yet another meeting where waste didn't seem to be a big deal. This group is in charge of the utilization of other people's money for an industry promotion. I learned at this meeting that an advertising project costing thousands of dollars had been scrapped because a few people were unhappy with it's results. A new and improved project would begin...utilizing someone else's money.

I'll say it again. I don't waste anything...even to a fault...just ask my kids. Maybe I learned it from my Grandad Lenard, who made soup out of nothing at all. Or maybe Brad's mom, Barb, who never let a bowl travel to the dishwasher without a good spatulan (cleaning every particle from a bowl with her signature spatula, old and slightly limp) Her frugality gave me a husband who never complains about what I serve, won't make a trip to town to buy a machinery part until he's exhausted every possibility of making the repair himself, and who's thrifty to a fault...just ask his kids.

I still can't explain what's going on in this world. But I think I'm finding my viewpoint. I just needed to get it off my chest and on paper. My horizon is a little more defined and my perspective a little clearer. I can sum it up now: I'm not going to stand for waste and I want answers to common sense questions. I'm tired of big government taking my tax dollars and putting it into the hands of people who lack the ability to use it wisely. I'm not going to back down, I'm going to keep voicing my opinions and offering my suggestions. I'd urge you to do the same.

I think Benjamin Franklin put it quite nicely.
"Waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industriousness and frugality, nothing will do, and with them everything."

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