I DO try to avoid voicing my own political opinions in this column, but sometimes I just can’t help it. Politics IS, after all, one of the key factors in what we’re supposed to be all about. And I realize a lot of you look to this page to get away from all that....but occasionally something does come to my attention, and then I feel the need to bring it to yours. When I do sound off, just remember that these are entirely my own opinions, and not representative of ABATE in any way.
At one of our local county ABATE meetings, among many other questions people had, someone asked the political guest speaker whether or not he thought that there should be mandatory drug testing for anyone accepting state or federal assistance (welfare, food stamps, rent, utilities, or any kind of financial support) from the tax-payers.
Ya know, regarding politics and the protection of personal freedoms: My political inclinations might be liberal, but I also strongly believe in a person’s right to privacy. I’m a VERY strong supporter of the Bill of Rights. I think ALL of us who belong to ABATE are. In fact a friend of mine (Diek, formerly from Region One), has the Bill of Rights tattooed all across his entire back!
However, during the discussion that followed at that meeting, I put forth the question, “I’m retired with a great pension plan...and I do alright. But sometimes even I couldn’t really afford recreational drugs in any significant amount (if I so wished). So why should my tax dollars pay for other peoples’ welfare (income, health, housing, and food benefits) while they might repeatedly choose to blow what little money they can scrape together for recreational drug use? Unfortunately, I think the time has come for mandatory testing....IF ‘we, the tax-payers’, are paying their bills.”
Someone responded, “Well, what about the poor families of these people...people who wouldn’t be able to receive the income or benefits if that happened? Why punish them?”
And someone else countered that with, “In some cases, the only ones who really get any of that financial assistance now, are the dealers anyway! At least some kind of closer scrutiny of what that money or benefits will be used for, coupled with assistance in the form of some kind of “Family Services” that is only given to the family members and significant others of the users (IF the users are found out)...services that couldn’t be converted to cash, and could only be redeemable by those family members, would be far better for them than that. It’s sure to even improve their situation, right?”
Well said, and something to think about. I recently heard that the government will soon reduce food stamps by $23 a month. The phrase “food stamps” is actually wrong because the government switched to a “credit” card a while back, making it harder to miss-use by selling or trading the benefit. But there are ways around everything. Instead of reducing the benefit, perhaps we should just make sure it’s being used properly by those who really need it, by insuring it’s NOT being used by people who waste significant amounts of their income on gettin’ high. We’re sure to save lotsa tax dollars. I mean, if someone can afford to buy drugs, or even massive amounts of liquor, they don’t need MY tax dollars too!
I HAVE always thought that partyin’ IS a right, and not a privilege. I might not get high anymore, but what you do with your own body is nobody’s business except your own....unless doing so somehow affects others. But I NEVER thought that it should be subsidized and financed by the taxpayers for chrissakes! Okay, I’ll climb down off my soap-box because this serious stuff is starting to be too...uh, well, serious. So blundering on....
I was at a local swap meet back in November and literally bumped into a lady-friend I haven’t seen for a while named “Spanky”. (I won’t tell ya why she’s called that because this is usually a PG-rated magazine.) Anyway, I was taking a break from our ABATE booth and just wandering around checking out the swap. Unaware of who I was walking behind, I was just moseyin’ along....when the woman in front of me stopped to look at something and I didn’t. She turned to me and exclaimed,
“BUMMER! Watch whose caboose you’re rammin’ LOL! How ya doin’ Hon?” (She used to be a waitress and calls everybody ‘Hon’.)
“SPANKY!!! Is that really you?”
Now, Spanky has always been one of my favorite people. She moved out of the state some time ago, and though we phoned each other for a few years, we eventually just lost touch. I couldn’t help but notice she had remained tall, slim (almost too slim), red-headed, good-looking, and funny as hell. The only bad thing I ever knew about her, was that she was too trusting and so easy for others to take advantage of. Men AND women were always borrowing money they wouldn’t pay back, or bumming things from her that would inevitably disappear, never to return. I remember a really nice car she let someone use for a while, and by the time (months later) when she had to ask for its return, it was a total pile of junk that had to be scrapped. And of course the woman who borrowed it never made things right.
Spanky told me she had just recently returned to Ohio and was looking for parts for a Sporty she laid-down shortly before leaving Colorado. The bike hadn’t been damaged too badly, and she just hauled it here as it was, with all of her other stuff. As we talked, I couldn’t help but remember some great times: Like the time in the mid 1980’s when she and I rode with a bunch of friends to an event held in Pattersonville, New York called the “Harley Rendezvous”.
A few old-school bikers started having this event in 1979 at the Washington County fairgrounds in Greenwich, New York. Then, they eventually bought a 200 acre cow farm for a permanent location outside the little rural town of Pattersonville. Then, they did something REALLY crazy and officially formed the “Indian Lookout Country Club” and began having their annual event there, which has been functioning for over 30 years. This “Country Club” for bikers is really just that, though it’s very “low cost and low class” (just the thing for us bikers LOL), and the only thing pertaining to golf, is a golf club that’s used as a flag-pole on top of one of the buildings. (By the way: Members of our ABATE Foundation should look into this and how they did it.) Anyhoo...
Spanky went on to say that she decided to return to Ohio when her mom started to become seriously ill. And the more she thought about it, the more she realized that she missed living here with her friends, her relatives, and riding on roads that weren’t vertical.....especially in the winter.
I asked her,
“So you’re gonna to stick around?”
“I think so. Colorado is great to look at in most places, but once ya get used to it, even that can get old. Great scenery is nothing compared to the people you’re surrounded by. I never felt a sense of ‘home’ there. Ohio is a beautiful state too! I think people who live in or near the cities here just can’t see past the urban blight that’s the result of a once huge industrial-based economy. Many of the stores and businesses simply couldn’t remain open when the bottom fell out of the local steel and manufacturing industries. What they don’t see is the beautiful farmland, the lakes, and all of the many benefits of living here, if you could find work.”
“How are YOU gonna live? I mean, ya got a job or something?”
“Hon, as long as Ohio has trucking, restaurants and taverns, there’s gonna be a need for waitresses. And I’m the best there is!”
Truth is, she has always made good bucks waitressing because she IS that good. Also, anyone who really knows how to waitress properly, and keep customers happy....a people-person.....is able to tend bar. As someone once said to me, a well-run tavern, particularly one with a great bar-tender (as long as it ain’t a dump), will always have plenty of generous patrons no matter what shape the economy is in. And Ohio has plenty of taverns (even though they took a huge hit due to that damned smoking ban).
Spanky is gonna do just fine, and I’m glad she’s home again.
Speaking of home: I’ve spoken to people who have never even been here before, and they told me that they soon felt right at home in Ohio....the people are friendly, the cost of living is reasonable, and the highway system is usually better than most states. When people bitch about living here, I just look at them and wonder why the hell they stay.
I’ve traveled most of the country, and I’ve spent long stretches of time in California and Florida (and, some time on a Georgia county prison farm). But I’ve never understood why anyone would want to live anywhere else for any reason other than their occupation (or, their incarceration LOL).
Even I would agree that there are many places that would be great to visit. For instance: I’ve never even been to New England and I’ve always wanted to spend some time cruising around up there. But Ohio will always be my home. Just like our license plates used to say, Ohio truly is “The Heart of It All”.