Press Talk: Of good people and listening more

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian editor

Published:

 
photoLou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505, twitter.com/lounews or lou.brancaccio@columbian.com.

Good people. Period.

That's what you'll always find at the Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation's Authors & Illustrators Dinner and Silent Auction.

I sneaked into it this week because, well, it's a great cause and I enjoy it.

I thought about these good people and how they regularly try to support this community when I was trying to figure out something.

Where do we go from here?

Now, that's not just a library question. Frankly, it's much, much bigger.

I'll get back to that in a second, but first I wanted to thank the library foundation for once again bringing in a great speaker. This time it was New York Times best-selling author Nicholas Sparks. This guy has written a ton of great books, and many of them have been turned into movies.

Surely you've read or seen "Message in a Bottle" and "The Notebook." And look for the movie release of "Safe Haven" in about three months.

My main takeaway from Sparks? Don't waste time just going through the motions in life. Figure out how to do something that challenges you, that rewards you. Ideally, that reward comes from your job, but it could also come from something else. Volunteering, for example.

But back to this larger issue. Where do we go from here?

For our community to be successful, more people need to be invited under the tent. More people need to feel like they have a say -- not only in the direction of our community, but what we should pay for to move us forward.

Unfortunately, it feels like the opposite is happening. It feels like there is an increasing disconnect between those asking -- usually the government -- and those paying.

You have to appreciate so many of the folks who attend events like the library foundation dinner. They see a need, recognize what needs to be done and voluntarily dig into their own pockets to help.

But it’s a different dynamic when government involuntarily digs into someone else’s pocket for help.

Look, there are very good, well-meaning people in government. And when government is discussed, it isn’t an all-or-nothing argument. Government is necessary. Taxes are necessary. Government helping others is necessary.

But how much can -- should -- the government do? And is the government listening enough? Is its tent big enough to not only include everyone it gives money to, but those who have to pay the bills?

If you look at the recent voters' decision to force the state Legislature to need a two-thirds majority to pass tax increases, you begin to see what I mean.

There are politicians who will fight that decision in the courtroom. Are they listening?

I'd agree that sometimes leaders must do the right thing regardless of popular opinion. But leaders must listen more.

It's as if some leaders simply aren't connecting with what's going on in the real world.

So many in the middle class aren't getting raises or -- worse -- are losing their jobs. Yet these very people still are asked to give more in taxes.

So, I say thank you to folks like those who attend the library foundation dinner and thank you to those who give what they can.

But I also say let's increase the tent size and listen more. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505, lou.brancaccio@columbian.com or Twitter: http://twitter.com/lounews