Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Money to war
Every society, no matter how rich, must divide up its wealth between personal expenditures and social expenditures (taxes). The pie of social expenditures must then be further divided to different social values.
Operation Iraqi Freedom cost $80 billion dollars so far. Splitting its costs among 300,000,000 Americans whose families pay taxes, it means that the 20,000 residents of our county paid over $5 billion for that war. If an occupation costs $1 billion a month, Hood River county’s share will be another $66,000 each month.
I note that the school board, in a county where athletics have so substantially contributed to our economy and reputation, is actively considering eliminating six sports in order to save $64,000 a year and balance their budget.
The money for the war has already been spent. The five cruise missiles our county’s contribution could buy have already been delivered. Perhaps the children, parents, and fans who enjoy those six sports will be forced to pay a share of that $5 million in social choice, as will 80 other local public programs with similar non-fundable budgets.
The federal government may come again soon with a plan to solve another problem with military intervention. At that time I hope the debate will include which other social goals we wish to abandon.
Schools of thought
Those who will hold one’s formal education level as an indication of their right to speak or make decisions, please keep a few things in mind. Of our presidents, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and Grover Cleveland did not attend college. Obviously, one does not have to go to college to understand government policies and motivations or to have intelligent thoughts about the direction our nation should pursue. On the other hand, we were led into Vietnam by the very well educated, “the best and the brightest:” Robert McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, Dean Rusk, and President Kennedy.
Moreover, I do not think that Cliff Mansfield or William Davis Jr. would write letters of protest if movie stars such as Susan Sarandon or Barbra Streisand spoke out against drug use or domestic violence, even though they do not have BAs in psychology or family studies. If educational attainment is a prerequisite to having an opinion that is worth sharing, should each author of letters to the editor have to indicate their degrees (or lack thereof) as well as their names? We take advantage of this forum just as actors take advantage of their forums. What is the difference?
Earth is cleaner
As we approach Earth Day I suspect we will see many protests and doom and gloom sayers but lets not forget the progress we have made in the past. Great strides have come in cleaning up the planet. There are many accomplishments to celebrate along with noting the things to work on in the future. Typical of the attitude of many environmental militants. To hear them talk, we are losing the war, so to speak, on protecting our habitat. But as Michael Novak notes in National Review, we have actually experienced great success in cleaning up the planet over the last 100 years — especially in Western culture. For instance, Novak cites the replacement of the horse by the automobile. Before the car, city streets were covered in tons of manure — 12,000 pounds a year, to be exact, from each of the 3.4 million horses on America’s urban streets. All that waste product led to toxic results in congested urban areas. On hot, dry summer days when horse hooves and wagon wheels pounded the manure into dust, the dust blew into the air, fell everywhere, and was breathed and ingested by humans. Not to mention the run off problems on the water supply. Cars have added a different type of pollution but technology has and will continue to clean them up in a dramatic way. And the impact on the environment is still better then that of the horse. Novak also notes that the automobile freed up more than 90 million acres of land that had been used to grow feed for the horses. And, Novak observes, natural gas and electricity often replaced the need to burn wood. Over the past century, some 500 million acres have reverted to woodland as a result. And wildlife species once on the endangered list are now thriving. Once the modern environmental movement really got going, achievements were even more impressive. Clean air legislation sharply brought down six types of air pollution. Moreover, these achievements came about during a time of huge population increases. But if these triumphs come as a surprise, Novak says, it is because “environmental activists of the apocalyptic type never report it, and even get angry if anyone else does.” One reason for this, writes Gregg Easterbrook in the Brookings Review, is that “environmental lobbyists have a stake in spinning everything in alarming terms. And when environmental lobbyists depict all news as bad, most of the media reflexively echo this line.” There has been an attempt in recent years to blame pollution on the “invasion” of Western civilization into America’s pristine wilderness — you even see that in some of the children’s textbooks. But the truth is in the U.S. there is more wilderness area now then at the turn of the century. It is worth noting that Western technology has solved many of the environmental problems caused by early immigration. Today, pollution takes its heaviest toll in poor countries that lack access to Western technology: nations that use primitive methods of cooking, heating and waste disposal. You can see this firsthand in the heavy smog hanging over Third World cities. So “environmental doomsayers notwithstanding” we have made tremendous progress in cleaning up the planet. And we ought to help our faraway neighbors by making the same technology available to them, The next steps in technology like hydrogen based fuel cells will even yet clean up the air that much more. Let’s not forget during earth day that we have much to celabrate as well as focusing on what to fix in the future so that together we can fulfill God’s command to be good stewards of His creation.
Can happen here
In this post-Taliban and post-Saddam era are we safer and more secure in our daily lives? Are our freedoms and civil rights more healthy and protected than they were two years ago? Sadly I fear not. As history has shown countless times, the greatest enemy to democracy and freedom is not from outside but from within, often wearing the guise of righteousness and national patriot. We often take for granted the rights we enjoy as Americans and forget the cost with which they have been won and protected over and over again by the lives of some of the finest America has had to give. In this on-going battle for social justice — civilian, soldier, student, teacher, protester, peace officer, politician and voter have all stood on the front line when it was crucial, sometimes paying a high price to help secure those freedoms for future generations.
And so it is today. The fear of terrorism has been seized upon, under the pretext of homeland security, to renew attacks upon our dearly earned freedoms. The current administration, which was granted unprecedented powers after 9/11 to act without the normal checks and balances that are the foundation of our democracy, has been at the forefront of these attacks. The formation of the office of “Homeland Security” is a breeding ground for witch-hunts and attacks on our hard-earned rights of privacy and dissent. My two young daughters’ future now contains the very real risk of a world in which friends and relatives can be labeled terrorists if they dissent or speak out against sanctioned government’s actions. Do you think this is too unbelievable to ever happen here? “Not in the good ol’ USA,” you say. It already has, several times during the Red Scare of the 1950s and the Japanese internment camps of World War II. Think that’s ancient history and we are older and wiser now? As the American philosopher George Santayana once said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Legal U.S. immigrants have been brought in and questioned by the thousands based not on any action they have taken but solely upon their ethnic background. A very UN-American act and only a hair’s breadth away from those dark days. Even members of congress have spoken out that they are being pressured and threatened with loss of committee posts if they do not support the current administration’s agenda. It does not matter if you are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent or none of the above — this is a direct attack on all our American freedoms.
The (UN)“Patriot” act which gave the executive branch unprecedented authority to monitor and invade a law-abiding citizen’s privacy and suppress their rights has many of its more controversial powers set to expire at sunset on Dec. 31, 2005. Unless of course they are made permanent by the U.S. Congress. There is currently a push in the senate to do just that. I urge everyone to call or write your congressperson and let them know you do not want a repeal of the “sunset” provisions in the (UN)Patriot act or any amendments to the Kyl-Schumer measure that would make the powers in the (UN)Patriot act permanent. As the great American Benjamin Franklin once said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Let’s remember the past, not repeat it.
The few in the public who continue to protest against the war and berate President Bush should be ashamed of themselves. The embedded reports have clearly shown a grateful Iraqi population and a coalition military that was judicious in its use of force. There have been countless stories of Saddam Hussein’s cruelty to his own people. How his sons were going to carry on his legacy. Iraq was training terrorists and giving refuge to those who had harmed Americans. If not for this action we would not have known of Russia’s duplicity, or who our true allies were. I have such pride in our armed forces and the magnificent job they have done. I too have the hope for world peace. However, it will be a true peace not one acheived by ignoring each assault against our citizens or ignoring the cries of citizens brutilized by an evil dictator.
On behalf of the Hood River Valley Chamber of Commerce and SOLV, I would like to thank the volunteers and businesses who participated in this year’s Annual Blossom Festival Spring Cleaning Party (April 12). More than 50 kids and 10 adults spent the morning picking up roadside litter in Odell, Parkdale and various other locations throughout the Hood River Valley. It was a great demonstration of community pride. We are blessed to be part of a community that encourages and supports projects that put our community spirit in action.
Thanks to the Boy Scout Troops 378 and 380, Jr. Girl Scout Troop 1575, Cub Scout Packs 378, 380 and 798 and the Timberline Trotters 4-H Club and their parents and leaders for getting the job done — collecting over forty 30-gallon bags of roadside trash and debris.
Special thanks to Hood River Garbage Service for providing disposal services. Rosauers, The Whistle Stop and Mid Valley Market generously supported this volunteer effort through donations of food and beverages to keep our clean-up crews fueled. These partners are another tremendous example of what it means to be part of a community!
As we move into the tourist season, keep in mind that our community is special and it takes every one of us to keep it that way!
Youth Services Director
Chamber of Commerce,
Clean up mess
I am writing this letter to the residents and users of Mid Valley Elementary’s field and playground. A few weekends ago, a small group of Odell Little League parents gathered for a work party at the field. We picked-up trash, painted over graffiti which had been painted inside one of the dugouts, raked leaves and tended the infield. My husband also began to repair the drinking fountain (which he had installed the previous year) because someone had broken off the drinking spout. He spent a few hours drilling out the concrete, installing new parts, then pouring the new concrete basin.
The following Saturday we met again at the field to finish up a few small projects. Not only was I very upset to see the amount of garbage that had accumulated in one week’s time, but also found out that before the newly poured drinking fountain’s concrete even had time to set-up, someone had destroyed it once again! Thus, more time was spent AGAIN on the drinking fountain.
To the people who use this (and other facilities), please make the effort to help keep it a clean place that we can be proud of and enjoy. Throw your garbage where it belongs and take care of the fences, bleachers, dugouts, drinking fountain, equipment, etc. Parents, remember we need to supervise our children and help teach them to care for and take pride in a clean environment. Aside from the field, I also noticed a large amount of trash on the playground. Please help get the message to kids that this is not okay. Just as the saying goes, “you break it, you buy it” it should also be said, “you make the mess, you clean it up.”
Bag it up
I live in White Salmon and am a regular shopper in downtown Hood River. When I shop, I bring my dog along — I can then take her on a run on the Mosier bike trail afterwards. Some shops she is welcome in, and others she must remain outside. I am a responsible dog owner in that my dog is friendly, child-safe and has her own doggy clean-up baggies attached to her leash. Being able to take my dog to town allows me more time to shop. I would like to thank the town businesses for making this possible. Doggie clean up bags attached to convenient locations would compensate for any doggie mistakes. Just a thought.
On a soapbox
After reading the letters to the editor about the port, Mt. Hood, taxes: all people need to recall the crooks — er, public servants. May help to go to the yahoo group “hoodriversoapbox” on your computer.
Turn off TV
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” — Albert Einstein.
Is our technology something to be proud of? Sure, it is one of the main contributors to our prosperous nation; it also helped create the American dream. Flip on the TV and see what you want to see. Freedom of speech, right? We as citizens should be more concerned with our freedom of thought. Yes indeed, we are free to think what we want, but it’s challenging when television is controlling our homes and our society. The average North American child spends more time in front of the TV then he/she does in school each year. Can we expect success with stats like these? Do yourself, your family, your community a favor, turn off your TV and turn on life — real life. Please, take part in the 9th annual TV Turnoff Week.
Twenty-eight years ago I ran away from home. I did not get along with my father who because of over working and a short fuse had little patience for an 11 year old boy. I do not remember the reason I ran away, but I did. I ran to the only place I felt safe. When the man showed up at his home, he looked really shocked to see me. I am sure he could see the fear on my face. He invited me in and gave me a soft drink. I’m sure about this time as he must have called my parents, but I did not know that. He showed me his ham radio and we listen to that for a while. We talked about my feelings and fears and comforted me. Then he loaded me up in the “Baron Rouge,” his name for his bright red VW bug, and drove me home. Over the years we have kept in contact and his friendship has been one of the most important relationships in my whole life. But, I am just one. For Peter Geist, there are as many stories like mine as there are blades of grass in the field. My wife and I mourn for his family, students, and community. We are praying that God will touch all of the lives that Peter has touched with His comfort in this time of need.
Frank and Lea Smith