HALF A SOLUTION
Lane County commissioners have it half right — taxation to generate more revenue for public safety is legitimately warranted in the face of our area's growing meth-related crime. But that's where their solution stops.
It's too easy to propose an income tax that will cast additional financial burden on already stretched citizens. Here is an opportunity for them to think beyond the political status quo and do something both obvious and progressive — legalize drugs and reap the benefits of taxation on their sale, control of their distribution, and reducing the incentives for crime that plague our communities.
The federal war on drugs is a complete failure and insulting to the concept of government serving the best interests of the people. Ask any law enforcement agency today if marijuana is their number one problem, as the feds maintain through their draconian corporate welfare for tobacco, liquor, and big pharma (all equally addictive and responsible for social decay). The resounding reply from Oregon's local, county, and state police will be a chorus: Methamphetamine is their biggest problem, and getting worse by the day.
The predation of our communities by addicts is directly proportionate to the lack of vision and guts on the part of our officials to respond with new and appropriate solutions. We all know only too well that the annual $73 million the county anticipates through this tax proposal will not be enough when used under present policies, and they will return to the trough again for more using the same tired political dogma and fear tactics — all the while watching their ineffectual plans lay waste to the resources we, the people, can ill afford to spare them.
By regulating the availability and treatment of drugs, and treating this as a public health issue, Lane County has the opportunity to set an important precedent that moves our communities closer to a solution instead of perpetuating the belief that enforcement alone will stop the unstoppable.
Brian Hardy, Eugene
Michael Cockram's commentary about urban design (12/1) recommended increased density as a partial solution to environmental ills. But this analysis only focused on part of the problem. Calculating the environmental "footprint" of a community is not merely an issue of how much personal transportation is used by individual citizens — the impacts of delivery trucks transporting food grown in distant bio-regions, electrical generation, water consumption, sewage systems, garbage production and many other things need to be examined.
Having everyone live in downtown apartments might reduce the per capita usage of personal automobiles, but it could increase the dependence on transportation systems for food and other necessities if these citizens eat food grown in California, Mexico or Chile, instead of converting their lawn into a garden. A "sustainable" city would be one where a substantial percentage of food is grown in or near the town, something rarely included in surface level descriptions of sustainability.
If the city wants to move toward sustainability, it could change the building code to require passive solar design for new buildings, encourage or require solar panels in new construction, create more community gardens and help teach gardening skills, ban franchise stores and begin a process to attract renewable energy industries to the region. All of these (and many more) policies have been enacted in other communities and there is no technical or legal reason why they could not be implemented here.
Some additional solutions at the local, bio-regional and global levels are posted at www.permatopia.com
Mark Robinowitz, Eugene
LIVING WITH CANCER
Valerie Pederson (12/8) bemoans a possible funding cut in cancer research. "With adequate funding, we can make cancer a disease people live with, rather than die from." This statement takes on a different meaning for me. Because of our ignorance and recklessness, most people in the industrialized world will soon have cancer, but is that any way to live?
Throwing money at cancer research does not address the problem. The problem is the abundance of unsafe pharmaceutical drugs pushed on us by doctors and advertisements. The problem is the massive amount of chemicals deliberately injected into the animals we consume, spread on our soils, and put into our drinking water and beverages. To maintain our "high standard" of living, we also depend on the many uses of harmful, industrial chemicals.
Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services released its 11th edition of the Report on Carcinogens, adding 17 substances to the growing list of cancer-causing agents, bringing the total to 246. How much longer will we continue to ignore the causes of cancer? In 1975, Renato Dulbecco accepted the Nobel Prize in Medicine with these words: "While we spend our life asking questions about the nature of cancer and how to prevent it, society merrily produces carcinogenic substances and permeates the environment with them. Society does not seem prepared to accept the sacrifices required for the effective prevention of cancer."
Robert Simms, Waldport
Edward Newland's "Turkey Revenge" (11/23) misses a glaring fact. It's likely those grains, soybeans, and sugarcane in his vegetarian thanksgiving were also grown on factory farms. They used petroleum-based fertilizer and pesticides to grow each "mock-turkey" and then diesel fuel to transport it across the globe so he can feel self-righteous about "pardoning" a turkey.
We avoid factory farm raised meat filled with growth hormones and antibiotics too, the same as we do soy products and corn grown with pesticides on factory farms. Take a look at Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber or Our Stolen Future by Theo Colburn and understand where the pesticides end up that they used on those miles and miles of Roundup Ready corn and soybean fields in Iowa. You might not feel so benevolent.
My family got a local farm fresh turkey raised in the open, fed grass and sunshine of the Willamette Valley. It was transported the 12 miles to my pickup point along with other family's turkeys after a co-op of local farmers ended its life as humanely as possible, far exceeding the USDA standards for cleanliness and after-slaughter temperature times. It was a little more trouble to arrange this and I probably paid a little bit more than going to a supermarket for a factory-raised bird, but I value supporting families at this family time of year. My goal was to avoid produce with those annoying adhesive labels so I'd know it was local and the money I spend would get spent again and again in our local area.
Tom Schneider , Eugene
Commissioner Anna Morrison's quest for a county income tax, after her preferred county sales tax option signaled sure defeat at the ballot box, seems like a "three strikes and you're out" strategy.
Does the "tax you once" (federal income taxes), "tax you twice" (Oregon income taxes), "tax you thrice" (proposed Lane County income tax) really offer a winnable solution?
Saddling a modest $35,000 annual income earning family with an extra $500 per year of local tax burden, especially if they're renting or a senior on a reduced fixed income, seems insensitive.
Why does Morrison always go for burdening those most vulnerable? Why not focus the tax at a higher level for income earners above $75,000 annual income who are also homeowners who could offset the tax against the proposed property tax deduction?
Or is fairness too much to expect from Morrison and her elitist public policy perspective?
Anne Machalek, Florence
Eric Blair's letter (12/1) is right on for support for Jeffrey "Free" Luers even though Luers violated the strict nonviolent code that many of us support. It is sad that many judges belong to the "make an example of" school instead of the true justice school because it debases our entire society in the same manner as rogue cops do.
If we had a really good governor he/she would commute Luers' sentence to time served and immediately release him from jail. The good news is that Luers is able to capitalize on this U.S. fault to help spread environmental awareness and environmental good deeds.
Onward to true criminals: The American people are going to have to wrap themselves around the fact that the Bushies are not really religious people, for what really religious person would commit mass murder in Iraq for oil profits? The biggest lie that Bush has ever told is that he has conversations with God.
Bob Saxton, Eugene
I share Chris Calef's concerns (11/23) about petroleum and climate shift, and I know — although many do not — that Free Luers' actions were meant to send an alarm about these urgent concerns.
Still: The more urgent the problem, the less we should allow urgency to dictate our methods. I welcome high-personal-risk politics, creative direct action, and nonviolent confrontation. For almost 30 years I've trained myriad groups/causes in this, and taught that urgency-fueled actions tend to turn out stupid, not smart. To build a movement, we should be smart! Sift our available options and abandon any that might lead to our message (purpose) getting lost. (So, if the cause is global warming, it is oxymoronic when your direct action contributes to it. And putting a residential neighborhood at risk to uncontrolled fire doesn't win supporters.)
Free's supporters now expend some portion of their political energy on the issue of unreasonable punishment, diverting preciously won public focus from his original cause. Activist power has gotten caught up in reacting to the government's reaction. "Activism" needs to be proactive, not reactive. Free's feats were not an example of good or smart activism. Cesar Chavez used to say that the farmworkers used nonviolence "because we want to win."
I do admire Free for his courage to at least try to make a difference. In that regard he's head and shoulders above the sleeping masses. But fear-engendering politics ultimately never works very well. Ask Dick and W. how it's going for them right now.
Vip Short, Eugene
Idaho Sen. Larry Craig's initiative to rid the public of unnecessary scientific data, such as cloaking, and terminating a specific Columbia River federal salmon-monitoring program, smacks of legislative sophistry. Craig will surface as one of the major supporters of ocean farming, and classifying and counting hatchery fish as wild fish. The ocean farmer's pork barrel is yet to come, and the timber extractors owe him a round of clapping (e.g. every classified wild fish means another tree falls for export).
I would appreciate it if the honorable senator would apply the same scrutiny when it comes time to cloaking and hiding the liabilities of the Idaho corporate farmers in matters of immunizing them from supplemental prosecution for aiding and abetting illegal entries into the U.S. Yes, another pork-barrel that needs de-cloaking.
How much taxpayer revenue is going to be spent to legislate over the damage from in-sourcing cheap labor? Yes, the senator will make a non-partisan effort to give 'em all amnesty, because the corporate farmers will be given immunity off the legislative top, in the name of jobs of course. If the Idaho spudheads wake up, the senator will be looking for a new job as well.
William Blair, Eugene
CUT AND RUN
From his bloody pulpit, President Bush vowed to "stay the course" in Iraq. The course was plotted in 1997 by 16 current members of Bush's staff. These charter founders of the Project for a New American Century drafted a plan, (www.newamericancentury.org)in which America would remove Saddam from power and gain control of the petroleum reserves. These reserves would pay back the cost of the war and America would emerge as the world's only super-power for the next 100 years.
Bush has steered away from the original course of gaining control of the oil, and is now plotting a course that would leave us burdened with the debt and sorrow from waging a preemptive war. Bush's current "cut and run" strategy, timed for the '06 elections, is a far cry from the original "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Oil to run America was a noble cause for our soldiers to die for. Let us not let them die in vain by letting Bush slink out the backdoor in Iraq without full payment in oil for their sacrifices.
Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain