Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"Three cheers for the free enterprise system"

John Irby is quickly becoming my favorite local columnist. I love his not-too-subtle yet ultimately benign and thoughtful brand of satire. In today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News, John's column takes a playful swipe at PARD and the current Pullman Wal-Mart controversy. Of course, I'm sure some local left-winger that takes him or herself way too seriously will write in and complain, just like when John wrote about the Apple Cup and hating Huskies.
Quick: Name the “Godfather of Soul” – James Brown, of course. Brown, as most know, also owns the titles of “Soul Brother No. 1” and the “Hardest-Working Man in Show Business.” But Brown has nothing on Glenn Johnson, the “Hardest-Working Man on the Palouse.” Unless you are new to our rolling lentil fields, or have possibly been spending all of your waking moments as a “pardner” in subterfuge or propaganda campaigns, you have likely heard of and admired Johnson. He is a professor in the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication and “Voice of the Cougs.”

I used to share nearby office real estate at Washington State University with Johnson. A fine, friendly, moral man he was (and is). But we parted office environments when I took a part-time administrative position, necessitating an office change, and he was elected a part-time (full-time for him) administrator. He became mayor of Pullman.

He’s a good mayor, but it is fun to poke and prod him on the issues du jour.

Take, for instance, his request in last weekend’s Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

“The Pullman City Council is accepting ideas, goals and suggestions from its citizens and organizations through Jan. 31. Suggestions may be mailed to Mayor Glenn Johnson’s office …”

It prompted me to check the city’s Web site where I found the following statement about citizen feedback: “One of the worst things an organization can do is to request input and then ignore it. If your feedback is positive, we will make sure that the appropriate individuals receive positive reinforcement. If your feedback is negative, we assure you that your complaint will be investigated and hopefully resolved to your satisfaction.”

I think my feedback is positive, but whatever it is I feel assured it will be handled appropriately. Here’s my 2006 goal suggestion:

I’d like a place in Pullman where I can purchase a 99-cent ice scraper. A while back after our first big snow, I found the scraper for my truck was missing. I immediately blamed my kids. So that morning I borrowed a scraper from my wife’s car. But by the time I was able to shop after work, not a business in Pullman had a cheap scraper. I could only find an $8.95 deluxe model at an auto parts store. No, thanks, I said, spending an additional $3 in gasoline and car wear-and-tear to drive 16 miles (roundtrip) to purchase a simple but effective 99-cent ice scraper.

There are other items I’d like in this store; some might be for sale in Pullman but would probably require an arm and a leg to purchase. They include “Andy Griffith Show” sleep pants; Sponge Bob fleece hats; table tennis balls, paddles and nets; Larry “Get-R-Done” Valentine chocolates; a yoga Pilates mat; Pullman and Moscow high school stadium blankets; a Venus fly trap plant; bamboo tiki party torches; a Tinker Bell poster; a cardio hip-hop CD; bubble-gum flavored teeth flossers; a “Madagascar” movie-themed kid’s table setting; a memory-foam ThermoPedic temperature-controlled smart pet bed; and Valentine cards with matching tattoos.

That kind of stuff, clearly, is important, especially with four kids. But I might even be able to do without some (or all) of it if this store, or some existing business in town, would just sell caffeine, sodium and carbohydrate-free, no calories, one-liter carbonated and flavored water for 50 cents a bottle.

It would be just dandy if this new business could be a one-stop shop. Take for instance the newest supermarket in town. It is great to shop there and then fill-up with discounted gasoline, a reward for being a loyal shopper.

Mr. Mayor, I make this suggestion based on my belief in free enterprise – the freedom of private businesses to operate competitively for profit with minimal government regulation.

If such a business is allowed in Pullman, I will continue to shop at local businesses providing good customer service on products I need at fair prices. I can’t, for instance, see myself not trading at such businesses; the employees at the large chain tire store where I shop provide such great service I bring them candy every Christmas.

Anyway, thanks for listening and I know you will take my suggestion seriously. Keep up the good work.
And thank you John, for providing a little light-hearted perspective amongst all the fury over Wal-Mart.

1 comment:

April E. Coggins said...

I also loved John Irby's column about hating the Huskies. I still have it. It was made that much sweeter when the Husky lover from Clarkston took offense. ROFL!

Mr. Irby likes to poke fun at people with no sense of humor. I can't think of a more deserving bunch.