Richard Elfers

A brief history of The Pill | Politics in Focus

By 1962, 1.2 million U.S. women were using the Enovid birth control pill. By 1963, the numbers almost doubled, according to a PBS timeline. Between 2006 and 2008, 82.3 percent of American women aged 15 to 44 were using an oral contraceptive pill (Centers for Disease Control). Today, between 80 million and 100 million women worldwide are using The Pill.

Do you know the difference between fact and opinion? | Politics in Focus

Think back about the last argument you had. Someone made a categorical statement that you strongly disagreed with. How did you react? Did you come back at them with an equally strong statement? Did the views expressed become heated and angry? Did you raise your voice and get red in the face? If you sit back and think about the argument, could either of you tell the difference between what were facts and what were opinions?

The balancing act of individual rights and public safety | Politics in Focus

Recent revelations bring to the fore larger issues elected officials must struggle with: where is the line between protecting the public versus guaranteeing individual rights? The answer to this question is not easily determined.

The relationship of wealth and power, miniaturized | Politics in Focus

When I taught sociology in high school, I employed something called a simulation as a class lesson. I divided the class into three groups. Each was given a mixed bag of colored chips: golds, reds and blues. The students didn’t know it, but I had added more gold chips to one bag than to the others. Golds had the highest value. Students could trade their chips with other teams, trying to improve their scores. I did this several times.

The politics of fixing bridges | Politics in Focus

Another bridge collapsed recently. This time it was on Interstate 5 just north of Mount Vernon. Fortunately, no one was killed, as occurred when the interstate overpass collapsed in Minneapolis a few years ago.

Two schools of economic thought inform modern political split | Rich Elfers

Two major theories have been battling in America: Keynesian Economic Theory and the Chicago School Economic Theory propounded by the late economist Milton Friedman. Their conflicting positions have struggled for dominance in fixing the economy for decades. Understanding these two views helps to clarify the differences between liberal and conservative economic thinking in America today.

Second term presidential scandals | Rich Elfers, Politics in Focus

Do you ever wonder why every two-term president since Richard Nixon has had a scandal or three during his second term? Nixon's Waterloo was the Watergate scandal that started during his campaign and ended with his resignation and pardon. Ronald Reagan, the next two-term president, caused the nation to suffer through the Iran-Contra Scandal where his government condemned and sanctioned Iran on one hand, and with the other sold them weapons to fight Saddam Hussein, our ally, whom we also supplied with weapons during the Iran-Iraq War. Clinton's was Monica Lewinsky; George W. Bush's scandals number as high as 34, according to one source. They include Abu Ghraib and no WMDs in Iraq. Now, Obama has three scandals going all at once: Benghazi, AP and the IRS.

Failure isn’t the end | Rich Elfers

It’s paradoxical, but true: Sometimes failure is good for us. That was my experience several years ago. I had been teaching high school history for 22 years by then and still had no sympathy for students who didn’t work hard and did poorly as a result. They would often give up rather than try to succeed. Sometimes they would act up in class, further frustrating me.

What’s your life thesis? | Rich Elfers

Do you know what your life thesis is? You have one whether you realize it or not. We all do. It’s the spectacles we use to interpret everything that happens to us. That life thesis comes as a result of major life events that shaped our thinking when we were young.

Marathon bombings illustrate how brutality objectifies | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

In 1915, during World War I, Imperial Germany made a fateful decision that has rippled down to us in the recent Boston Marathon bombings. Kaiser Wilhelm, in desperation over the British naval blockade of Germany, ordered a German U-boat to sink the British ocean liner Lusitania off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,119 passengers who died, 114 were Americans.

How the Kims leveraged North Korea’s shortcomings into power (and why it might no longer work) | Politics in Focus

Since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, North Korea has used a strategy of “ferocious, weak, and crazy” to stay in power. Up until recently the strategy has worked brilliantly for the Kims. But the situation is changing under the leadership of twenty-something Kim Jung Un. Because of his actions and rhetoric China has to reconsider its stance of protecting the North Korean regime. Additionally, the current U.S. response toward North Korea is forcing other changes in the region.

Is development worth losing greenspace? | Politics in Focus

Think about what you feel as you drive east on state Route 410 Enumclaw and head up the hill above the fieldhouse and the golf course. Look off to your right (south) and you see a beautiful forest with thousands of trees. Hancock Timber owns that property.

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?