Richard Elfers

Balancing capitalism and the social safety net | Politics in Focus

Which is the best avenue for a strong economy? Republicans want to free themselves of government regulations and taxation. Democrats want to protect the poor and middle class with a safety net. This is the battle we are seeing in the nation’s Capitol right now.

The limits of executive power | Politics in Focus

How much power does any U.S. president have in affecting domestic issues versus the power he can exercise in foreign affairs? Many Americans believe our president has enormous authority in both arenas based upon promises and criticisms during his presidential campaign. According to our Constitution, that view is in error. Let’s examine where power really resides and how it is actually exercised.

Cultural attitudes set low-performing American students behind the curve | Politics in Focus

How does teaching international high school students differ from teaching Americans of the same age? I retired from teaching social studies at Sumner High School after 31 years. For the past three years I have taught American history, government, and culminating project to primarily international students wishing to get their high school diplomas in America at Green River Community College in Auburn.

Educated parenting the key to educated children | Rich Elfers

Would you like to know how to have a child who does well in school? According to an article in the March/April Foreign Affairs Magazine entitled “Capitalism and Inequality” by Jerry Z. Miller, there is one key that seems to be the best determinant of educational success: “The prevalence of books in a household is a better predictor of higher test scores than family income.” Let’s examine why this is so.

For-profit medical industry bleeding patients dry | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

Time Magazine’s March 4 cover notes that a 1.5 cent acetaminophen tablet costs 10,000 times that much in a hospital. This introduces the reader into the featured story of the issue: "Why Medical Bills are Killing Us," by Steven Brill.

Do fairy tale beginnings do harm in the long run of a relationship? | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

Why do couples so often dress better, bring flowers, hold the chair, open the door for the love of their lives, go out to dinner and attempt to keep themselves slim only until the “quarry” has been safely bagged?

Good government comes from caring and competence | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

I watched with avid interest and some surprise as seven candidates vied for the Enumclaw City Council seat vacated due to the death of Kevin Mahelona.

Lack of Wall Street prosecutions are a travesty | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

Approximately 4.5 years have passed since the 2008 economic meltdown. It is estimated that $12 trillion were lost and millions of jobs ended in what has been considered the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. How can it be that this group of people has escaped criminal prosecution?

McCleary decision put state lawmakers on notice | Richard Elfers’ Politics in Focus

The McCleary versus the state of Washington decision of Jan. 5, 2012, set the stage. According to the state constitution, “It is the paramount duty of the State to make ample provision for the education of all students residing within its borders.”

The many faces of American expansion | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

When I teach American history to international students, I want to make sure they learn how the United States spread out across this continent and expanded overseas. Understanding this tells them a lot about America’s national character and personality. There are definite patterns to our expansion westward.

Venture capitalist challenges notions about democracy | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

A Chinese venture capitalist and political scientist in the January/February edition of Foreign Affairs presents an intriguing perspective on the current state of U.S. democracy. The author, Eric X. Li, trumpets the advantages of the one-party rule by the Chinese Communist Party. Democracy is not the only form of successful government, according to Li.

Binary thought has a time and place | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

Do you know what black-and-white thinking is? It’s a way of seeing situations and events as moral choices between good and evil, right and wrong, either/or, with nothing in between. This type of thinking is absolutely essential in life-or-death situations. The choices are stark where dramatic decisive action is required. Most of the time, though, black-and-white thinking limits our options and causes us to see the world with too narrow a focus.

U.S. political parties have a rich and storied history | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

Do you know the history of our current major American political parties? Understanding their history will help you appreciate how they change with the times and often switch roles.

The power of legacy | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

My grandfather Elfers loved to argue, and on one occasion when I was about 10 years old, I saw him get a glint in his eye, and raise his voice as he talked about politics. I, too, became interested in politics and later ran for public office. I, too, love to argue and discuss what’s going on in the world. That’s partly why I write this column.

Media is a powerful hammer in the politician’s toolbox | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

A major reason President Obama won the elections of 2008 and 2012 was because he and his advisers harnessed the power of the data-mining capacities of the computer and the mass appeal of the Internet. Obama for America polled, communicated with, organized and milked supporters for donations more effectively than any other candidate in American history.

Politicians need to adapt to the new reality | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

Politics deals with what is, not what we would like humans and society to be. That’s one of the major things that I miss about being on the Enumclaw City Council.

In the sock drawer of good and evil | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

Are children born with an innate sense of right and wrong? That was the question a 60 Minutes segment explored on Nov. 18. The Yale study used hand puppets to test whether children as young as 3 months knew right from wrong. This study gives us a more complete picture of moral development with deep implications for us all.

Election spending about quality, not quantity | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

The 2012 election was the most expensive political war in American history. Republicans and Democrats spent $6 billion on all the campaigns - presidential and congressional and on the state level.

Politicians master the art of framing | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

In order to win big stakes elections in America, it’s necessary to frame your opponent in an unfavorable light. Your opponent tries to do the same thing to you. Whoever is more successful in framing their opponent will win the election.

Reaching for the other side of the aisle | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

Have you had enough of slanted political views, slander and stubborn, self-righteous partisanship? I have. I’m glad elections are done for at least a year. It seems what Americans are hungry for is cooperation and compromise between the political parties in the nation’s Congress and the state and local governments for the good of the nation. What most of us really would like to see is a sense of balance and moderation.