Wednesday, August 29, 2012/lk
Teach respect for foliage
Last evening I was at Jackson Park to listen to the music and soon noticed children playing in the beautiful shrubs around the oak trees, jumping and riding on the limbs that have leaves with purple berries falling to the ground on the cement pathway. I couldn’t stand it any longer so I walked over close and there were three or four children, boys and girls. Mothers had their cameras, taking pictures of this.
I mentioned to a couple of mothers that the children shouldn’t be playing in the shrubs. They said nothing to me and just continued on the rest of the evening.
It was dangerous for the children as well as for the people trying to go up or down the cement walkway with the berries making a terrible mess. Perhaps there should be some signs up, it is not safe for the children or anyone else going or coming up and down the pathway.
Please keep Jackson Park beautiful!
Politics and medications
I’m tired of writing a continuous stream of letters about politics. Anyway, we have recently seen three excellent letters from writers who can take over for me: John Laraway (“Democrats are to blame,” Aug 22) Ron Yamashita, (“Not just the economy,” Aug. 25), and Peter Dallman (“Blame falls everywhere,” Aug. 25).
All three writers state their issues very clearly. However, Mr. Laraway should cite his sources; otherwise one might believe his letter was copied verbatim from Fox News, or some such right wing publication.
Anyway, I have another gripe about something that affects everyone, especially we seniors. It’s the names the pharmaceutical companies give to prescription medicines. It’s hard enough to remember to take them all, much more to remember the names of them.
I carry a list of my medications with me everywhere I go, because even if I do remember them when the doctor asks, I can’t pronounce them. I think the least they could is to give them each a nick name; something easy to remember, like Adam, Abby, Bob, Betty, or Charley and Cathy, on down the alphabet.
Now, if you take that last paragraph seriously, I suggest you hurry up and build a house on that 30-acre plot of ground on Barrett Drive that the Hood River County will sell to you. Then try to build a subdivision on it.
Big money divides
I agree with Democratic state representative candidate Peter Nordbye’s views on the need for campaign finance reform, as expressed in a recent opinion piece published in the Hood River News. Big money paying for political campaigns is not just impacting the decisions being made (or not made) by our politicians, it is also the driving force behind much of the divisive political rhetoric that is tearing our country apart.
After repeated exposure to such divisive and inflammatory rhetoric, more and more Americans have come to see their fellow Americans, which happen to hold different political views that they do, as their enemies. They come to believe that those who think differently than they do are out to destroy America; that they are wrong about everything and that they should not be listened to, trusted or heaven forbid, compromised with.
Both major political parties now regularly employ the politics of divisiveness and other negative campaign tactics, believing they are a necessary evil in today’s political reality. It’s the big-moneyed special interests that are paying for these campaigns, however, that are really calling the shots. With so much money, influence and access at stake, these powerful interests insist on the use of these destructive negative campaign tactics, without regard for the damage these tactics are doing.
Our ability to reach consensus and compromise are two longtime cornerstones of American democracy. As we become more divided, we become less and less able to reach consensus. If we can’t reach consensus, we have no political will and democracy dies.
Unless we find a way to get big money out of our politics soon, our democracy is in real danger. Thank you, Peter Nordbye. You seem to be the only one trying to do something about it.
What are benefits?
Most of the towns in the Gorge area have released statements or declarations against the exportation of coal through the Gorge. Unfortunately, we don’t find that to be the case here at the Port of Cascade Locks. They had representatives of the Port of Morrow and a lawyer from Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt, a high-priced, high-powered Portland law firm who is making claims of 2,100 construction jobs and 1,000 operational jobs from the export of coal.
Also, according to the port’s minutes, no coal dust and no train congestion will occur. None of the alleged jobs will be in the Gorge or Hood River County.
The port has been asked to take a stand against coal trains which run through port property and will reduce it in value, not to mention the damage it will do to tourism; so far they’ve listened to those who promote bringing coal through our scenic Gorge area, but haven’t bothered to listen to anyone from the other side.
In the last two weeks we’ve had a train wreck here in Cascade Locks, and one in Portland, plus a derailment recently occurred in the Pasco area involving a coal train.
I ask the port and commissioners: What benefit will coal do for the air in the Gorge; what will it contribute to the economy; how will it benefit tourism; will coal dust do anything for people’s health?
What possible benefit will be gained by running 1½-mile-long trains within feet of Multnomah Falls spewing coal dust? Is there something positive to be gained by the noise? Will this be of any benefit to our children who go to school within blocks of the tracks going through your port?
Mr. Groves, who is the chair of the port, and Mr. Daughtry, port manager, can you list for us any benefits from coal traveling through the Gorge that will promote the economic well being of the area you represent? We’re all patiently listening.
Comparing our three-year recovery following the deep recession ending in June 2009 with eight earlier post-World War II recoveries lasting at least three years (The Oregonian, Aug. 16), four under Democrat and four under Republican administrations, the unemployment rate has been more resistant to reduction now than in the eight comparisons.
But also government spending and investment at the federal, state and local levels this last quarter was 4.5 percent lower than three years earlier compared with an average of 12.5 percent higher in the previous eight recoveries; and in the first three years after the 1981-82 recession, during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, it was 15 percent higher.
Moreover, governments at all levels have eliminated 642,000 jobs since June 2009, the only time government employment has fallen in the three years after a recession.
Why has this happened? Because despite President Obama’s several proposals to jump-start the economy with government-funded jobs, most recently for needed infrastructure jobs such as highway and bridge repairs, Republicans in Congress have blocked his every move, valuing winning in November over what is good for our country.
Obviously, the deficit must be considered. But under high unemployment, the austerity program advocated by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will only increase the unemployment rate. This is the current experience of some of the European Union countries.
Rather, government spending in the short term is the best strategy to lower unemployment, and to subsequently reduce the deficit in the longer term; as evidence, note the aforementioned eight recessions and the government spending on jobs programs and World War II that ended the Great Depression.
Obama’s early 2009 economic stimulus package that saved or created between 1.4 and 3.3 million jobs (nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office; see www.factcheck.org/2010/09/did-the-stimulus-create-jobs), along with George W. Bush’s unpopular TARP bailout, was enough to avert a Great Depression but not a Great Recession.
Unfortunately, 40 percent of Obama’s stimulus package had to go for tax cuts rather than job creation to get Republican votes necessary for passage. Thus, as predicted at that time by some award-winning economists, further government spending is necessary to create jobs and jump-start the private sector.