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On trying kindness, new taxes, troubled youth & homeless

POSTED April 5, 2017 9:06 a.m.
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It may be corny and too G-rated for our now R-rated culture but Glen Campbell recorded a hit song in 1969 that made it to #2 on the country charts. You may remember "Try a Little Kindness." The song included the lyrics: "Don't walk around the down and out, lend a helping hand instead of doubt. And the kindness that you show every day will help someone along their way."

The song was rolling through my head when I heard about the Melbourne, Fla., 7-Eleven incident where a woman came in to buy something with a jar of dirty, gunked-up pennies. The clerk refused them. The woman, a would-be customer, lost her cool, threatened to kill the clerk and came back with guns. Now she's wanted by police.

The whole story could have been averted if the clerk exercised a little compassion and took that woman's dirty pennies. It sounds like anyone paying with dirty pennies is truly down and out. Nothing like kicking the humiliated when they're down and out. There isn't much "that's okay, honey, we'll take the pennies and clean them up for you" service anymore.
* * * * *

Boy, Gov. Brown has stepped into a big pile of it. He wants to raise taxes on our cars and the gas we put in it. He even wants to tax the cars that use no gas.

Six out of 10 Californians say "no way Jose."

His plan needs to be approved by two-thirds of the state Assembly and Senate. Understandably, Republicans have condemned the plan, which calls for:

• A 12-cent-per-gallon increase in current gas excise taxes on Nov. 1;

• A new, annual Value Based Transportation Improvement Fee, which is charged annually in addition to the current vehicle registration fee, and would be $25 for cars valued at less than $5,000, increasing gradually to $175 for cars worth $60,000 or more;

• A $100 per year tax for electric car owners;

• A four percent increase in diesel fuel sales tax from the current 5.75 percent to 9.75 percent.

• An increase in the diesel excise tax from 16 cents per gallon to 36 cents per gallon.

It's laughable that Brown, one who implored us to spend obscene amounts of money on the high-speed rail boondoggle, is now crying about lack of money for crumbling infrastructure.

If the Democrats in Sacramento quit running businesses and jobs out of the state - and thus lose revenue - we wouldn't find ourselves in this predicament of being short money for roads. And let's not forget the union stranglehold on Sacramento Dems and the outrageous monstrous public pension drain.

It would be nice if the swamp in Sacramento could be drained.

Come to think of it, it would also be nice to have a part-time Legislature to limit the damage it does.
* * * * *

For years my Ceres doctor would express his frustration to me that Ceres didn't have a blood lab for its 47,000 residents. Now it does.

The Quest Diagnostics lab in Ceres may be the best kept secret in town. I was there on Monday for a blood draw. It's so new that the lab doesn't appear on google searches. You'll find it in the former Southern Exposure tanning salon in the Richland Shopping Center on Whitmore Avenue.

* * * * *
To distract myself from the drawing of blood, I shared with the phlebotomist how I had been the victim of a weekend theft at my house. Someone helped themselves to a small metal café type table and chairs that had been outside the house for the past two years. In the spirit of front-porch neighborliness, it was a peaceful place for us to sit and eat sandwiches and sip on drinks. The thief ruined that tradition.

I suppose this should be a shame-on-me moment for setting them in such a visible place. The point is that they had sat there for two years.

Nothing angers me more than dirt-bag thieves - and politicians like Jerry Brown who let them go from state prisons only to return to their thieving ways of entering and stealing our property.

I don't know many people who haven't been ripped off by the garden variety thieves who inhabit the Valley of the Poor like a thicket infestation of cockroaches. My daughter had Christmas decorations ripped off in Hughson. Renee Ledbetter had her car broken into recently. Postal boxes are routinely broken into. If anything, this thievery serves to teach our young people that they need to treat school seriously. Far too many kids fail to see that education is key to making it in life.

* * * * *
I had a conversation with a Ceres teacher whose eyes were tearing up as he shared how a lot of students "are not doing what they need to be doing."

I asked him to share his observations.

He believes it's social media, a lack of or poor parenting, broken families, and parents in jail and raised by aunts and uncles. He reported some students are homeless. They have cynical views of life and have attitudes against authority and police, no doubt brought on by the any law enforcement mainstream media.

I was told to keep doing what I'm doing - speaking out against failed liberal policies.

* * * * *

For the first time ever at the Chamber's annual legislative breakfast, security guards were posted outside Howard Training Center Friday morning. There were concerns that lefty protestors would show up and cause trouble for Congressman Denham. The facility wanted them there, too, to protect clients who might be adversely affected. As it turns out, no protestors even knew about the event. Maybe they knew but 7 a.m. was too early for them to rise.

There's a bunch out for Denham now that he has an opportunity to help our new president undo the damage done by his predecessor. A few were crying over spilled milk as they tweeted last week to the Ceres Chamber: "Did you save a warm meal to give it to a senior? You take meals from seniors and give tax breaks to Ivanka Trump! Jeff is terrible for America!"

The same person tweeted: "Who was invited to this event, Jeff?"

Well, actually everybody was invited. It was noticed in the Courier two weeks in advance. A case of "You snooze, you lose"?

"Indivisible Manteca" tweeted: "Name one legislation that will help Ceres. You were willing to take healthcare away and separate children from parents."

Senior meals are safe, Denham is a moderate on immigration and has proposed a pathway to citizenship and whose healthcare did he take away? (My brain is picturing that Facebook meme of Sam Elliott talking about a special kind of stupid).

I get that we are an extremely polarized nation and "feelings" often take the place of reason and fact but can those of you who disagree try to not be jerks? We endured eight years of an anti-business, anti-American and anti-law enforcement president and we survived without going on a homegrown terrorist rampage and cry rooms and safe zones. These people have become unhinged since the election and we're only less than three months into the Trump presidency. For God's sake, contain yourselves!

* * * * *
If you are the estimated 37 percent of Americans who regularly go to church, why do you go? I go to hear the truth because the truth shall set us free. If you have a pastor who gives you a good dose of truth, you have a good thing. If that translates to action, then the world benefits as well.

In a recent church setting I listened as a Christian believer shared how God led her hardened heart toward the homeless into a soft spirit of serving them. She now heads up a rescue mission ministry of helping the homeless.

The woman grew emotional when she told the story of Jay, who was homeless most of his life. His mother and two brothers were also homeless. Jay battled drug and alcohol addiction and in his last years he tried to stay away from homeless people who tried to drag him back into drugs. In 2015 Jay lived down by the river, and grew so sick he was taken to the emergency room. A surgeon removed his feet because of frostbite. Weeks later his legs were removed. The woman and her partners in homeless ministry stopped by the hospital to visit and share the gospel and He accepted the Lord. After the final surgery, the hospital discharged him - back out onto the streets. Jay was found in a hotel in Oakdale surrounded by drugs. Terminally ill, he was taken to a hospice home to die. The volunteer with him reported that Jay asked, "This is my room? I'm the only one that's going to be there?"

The woman grew emotional as she said: "His last moments were with Jesus and in a room that he never imagined he could have." The woman wondered how Jay's life would have been different had he had a place to check into daily with a mentor guiding him.

Are you among those who look disparagingly at homeless persons? My friend has a word for you from Psalms 72:12-14: "He will rescue the poor when they cry to him, he will help the oppressed who have no one to defend them. He feels pity for the weak and the needy and he will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence for their lives are precious to him."

A week before this happened I was in a Carl's Jr. and saw a raggedy, disheveled and obviously homeless man walk in. He went out of his way to avoid the counter, kind of like trying to fly under the radarwalking pa slowly, and plopped down two seats away. He seemed dispirited, looking out the window and barely holding onto some change for which he no doubt had begged. I was contemplating getting my soda refilled when it dawned on me: if you don't offer that man some food, shame on you.

I walked over, leaned into his table and said, "Are you hungry, buddy?" He pivoted around to take a look at the menu board. I went to the counter, ordered him a breakfast sandwich and an O.J. and took it back to him. I don't even think he thanked me but I wasn't out for thanks.

On the way to my car - my beautiful five-year-old car with 147,000 miles on it - and wanted to cry that I wasn't on foot, wasn't homeless and rarely feel the pangs of hunger.

An attitude of gratitude is so essential to a happy existence.

Do you have any feedback about this column? Let Jeff know by emailing him at jeffb@cerescourier.com. He will read it, promise.

 

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