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Eugene Weekly : Wine : 5.5.11

 

All Boats Rise

When we support our public sector

By Lance Sparks

Im buzzed by business, honor and respect entrepreneurs (and their families, often the primary employees) who save and borrow to launch an idea that (they hope) will produce a modest living and a satisfying life spent doing enjoyable work. Artists (all kinds), crafts- and trades-people, farmers and ranchers, restaurateurs and vintners, shop-keepers and dog-walkers, butchers, bakers, candlestick-makers ã all these and more swell the economic tide that lifts all our boats, not just the yachts. And often the folks who start a little gig of their own work longer and harder than they ever would working for someone else. Ive been there, felt the aches and pleasures, feel them even now.

But I know that any real, viable community also needs a strong public sector, people who commit themselves to service in all the government/ public agencies that make possible the smooth functioning of a civil society ã teachers, firefighters, cops, utility workers, the folks who care for kids and the elderly, the many who do difficult tasks, usually for menial pay and benefits, maybe the promise of a scrimping retirement after decades of service. I am also one of these.

So Im deeply troubled when conflict breaks out between these two groups so essential to our communitys well-being. And were seeing it too much these days. Businesspeople attacking government workers just makes no sense at all. Some radicals in the business community are treating their own customers like enemies, and too often the extremists propagating the nastiest attacks are also those who are among the wealthiest.

Were coming to a vote on whether to pass a small and temporary income tax ã Measure 20-182 ã to prop up our schools while the state cant or wont. Sure, the measure has its flaws; at best, its a lifeboat. But anti-tax forces have fought every other proposal to a standstill. Now, if we dont pass this measure, we face school closures, increased class sizes, shortened school years, and the layoffs of dozens of teachers. We have to ask, is this really what people in the business community want? Those teachers dont make much dough, but they are the people who buy groceries and houses and appliances and cars. And for every teacher, according to the so-called multiplier effect, another seven people have jobs. And thats good business.

Free-market wingnuts argue that only reducing taxes (to nil if possible) and increasing private wealth will create jobs. Well, the wealthy in the last 10 years had a couple trillion dollars in tax cuts and they really have increased jobs ã in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, China, lots of places, but not here at home. Near as I can tell, many of those folks have no civic or national pride. Theyre neither patriotic nor particularly loyal to their own communities. People who care are the people who take care; they dont.

Which BRING's us back to wine.

A vintner who has always cared for his community and his land is John Paul of Cameron Winery, Dundee. His Cameroni 2010 Giovanni Pinot Bianco (Pinot Blanc, $15) is worth some love, a dry, fresh white with pear/melon/tropical fruit flavors, delish with local seafood.

Charles & Charles (Washington) wines are, across the board, made for the pleasures of the table and priced for access by normal people. Charles & Charles 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah ($10) is bold, rich with dark-fruit flavors, smooth and quaffable. And theyre good citizens.

A modest white for tight budgets: Antica Osteria Bianco ($6) comes from the Puglia region of Italy, is crisply citrusy and mighty friendly to creamy pastas. They deserve your vote.

So do the kids and schools right. Stand up for our community. Mayday, friends.

Lance Sparks, Ph.D., teaches writing at LCC and can be reached at freelanceandwildkat@comcast.net