• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

"Guest Viewpoint"

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. — Karl Marx

One saying goes like this, “When you have your health, you have everything!” That is a wonderful sentiment, but I think I could add that having a loving family, a challenging job and enough money to live comfortably — all of those things are part of my idea of “everything.”

Forty-eight years ago this month, Lyndon Johnson overcame years of resistance by the medical establishment and signed Medicare into law. It’s as close as this country has ever come to establishing the kind of universal, publicly funded, “single-payer” health care system that prevails in most other industrialized countries. Coming at a time when half the nation’s seniors lived in poverty, its passage quickly demonstrated that it was possible for the federal government to provide health coverage for the costliest section of the population to insure, at a fraction of the administrative cost required by private industry.

In a Viewpoint on Aug. 1, 2012, Roy Keene described how Timber Town Eugene buzzes along nearly oblivious to the forest destruction and herbicide poisoning around it. Much like a frog in a pot of water brought to a slow boil, the timber industry relies on what geographer and author Jared Diamond has referred to as “landscape amnesia” — slow environmental degradation that would be offensive if only at a faster pace.

I know you’re slammed with work, debt and episodes of Downton Abbey to catch up on. And I know you feel like an eco-hypocrite jetting to see Grandma and coral reefs before they disappear. Me, too. But if your political inaction on climate change stems mostly from not knowing how to make a difference, Bill McKibben just issued his Tarzan call for your help.

Millions of Americans have been educated to believe that their psychiatric drugs correct a known “biochemical imbalance,” but they might be surprised to find that this belief is not actually supported by science. In fact, the evidence that psych drugs correct “biochemical imbalances” is so weak that an editorial in Psychiatric Times recently claimed that it is only within “urban legend” that well-informed psychiatrists have ever believed such theories.

The revelations of the past month and a half have shone light on system of suspicionless global and domestic surveillance so pervasive that George Orwell would have been stunned. The goal of the NSA is that all electronic communication whatsoever will be stored and analyzed. If “red flags” are raised in the analysis, or if suspicion is raised for other reasons, then a closer look may be had.

My friend and former Congressman Jim Weaver, who lives on Seavey Loop Road, called me about a month ago asking what might be done, if anything, about the summer events in Buford Park that seemed to be multiplying exponentially. He told me about an event last year that backed up traffic from the park to I-5 and kept him from getting out of his driveway.

The air was calm, the birdsong brisk, as sunlight slanted through the canopy, spotlighting the Wiley Griffon Historical Monument in the Eugene Masonic Cemetery. It may have been a trick of the light, but Wiley’s bronze eye sparkled. The Preacher and I stood looking out into the forest, overlooking the gravesite on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Medgar Evers, June 12.

The politics of gun control today clearly indicate that at the federal or state level in Oregon, legislation to either enact new limitations or expand current regulations regarding firearm ownership is highly unlikely.

Since I was going to drive all the way to Tucson from Eugene for a weekend retreat, I decided that afterward, on Monday, I’d continue a couple of hours down U.S.-19 to the Mexican border town of Nogales, and stay until Saturday. A mini-immersion experience in life at the border.

Summertime! When clear skies and warm sun lure us to the edge of the river for a float, a swim, a picnic or maybe just a nap on a shady bank. In the old days it was not uncommon to find that the river’s edge had changed from the high waters of winter, with trees and banks shifted, gravel bars moved from one place to the next. But our rivers have been increasingly narrowed by the convenience and stability of roads and other hard surfaces. Still, there are home waters nearby where the river’s shifting compass still holds sway, and somewhere it is getting a chance to meander again.

As a high school freshman Katelyn VanBerkel would carefully pick her way through the broken glass and muddied potholes of the trailer park in Glenwood, warily skirting a drunk prostitute, avoiding the local junkies until she could make it onto the warm and dry bus that would take her to the one place she felt safe, school.

David Matthew Minor died five years ago this month in a bicycle-car collision at the corner of 13th and Willamette. His “ghost bike” memorial still stands in front of FedEx/Kinkos: the white bike that his mother Susan keeps surrounded by flowers, and the sign peeking out of the petunias “Start Seeing Everyone” reminding drivers to be aware of pedestrians and cyclists.

Charlotte Behm

 et al.

A chorus of bird songs filled the air on a recent stop at HAL-BA (“downstream”), one of the new Kalapuya Talking Stones that will be dedicated at a public ceremony on June 8. The beauty of the Whilamut Natural Area provided a peaceful place to reflect upon the incredible progress Springfield and Eugene have made in honoring the Kalalpuyas.

High cheekbones, even tans, long hair, perfect teeth, small feet, long eyelashes. The list goes on and on. What comes to your mind when I say beauty?

My mother, Virginia Eivers Gorton, was raised in The Rose City amid Portland’s lush beauty, but her garden was always more of a dream. While she delighted in the natural beauty of flowers, that love never extended to actual hands in the soil. If truth be told, perhaps the interest in gardens was more my interest and although I championed the joys of gardening through the years, she was always otherwise engaged.

An open letter to President Obama: I am a disabled American worker who uses state approved marijuana for medical reasons. I am offended that you choose to consider me a criminal.

The proposed city fee is the subject of much debate in our community. Many community members remain undecided. Voters deserve some clarity about the proposed fee and a response to the critics who say it is not needed.

Recently I volunteered at the Lane Peace Center’s annual Peace Symposium, “Rise to End Gender Violence!” Women's empowerment is essential to cultural progress. And violence toward or objectification of women impedes progress. Yet, I also feel compelled to stand up for that other gender, men. 

Having worked in two jails and one federal prison, I understand the importance of adequate institutional staffing for safety, security and efficiency. But in conjunction with deliberations about whether to support a tax levy to increase jail funding, I believe citizens would do well to contact their county commissioners about how any short-term funding solution should be coupled with a plan to rein in correctional costs that otherwise will undoubtedly only increase over time.

Recent experience suggests that once they understand the true implications, 4J parents and students have grave concerns about implementation of the 3x5 schedule at North Eugene, South Eugene and Sheldon high schools, and believe it should be delayed for at least a year or two, pending review of actual results of Churchill’s pilot of the controversial new schedule.

An epidemic of violence against women is happening globally and in the U.S. that rarely gets acknowledged because violence is embedded in our patriarchal concepts of masculinity. Globally one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime, or over one billion.

Economic injustice permeates our local, state and national tax policies. The proposed city service fee reinforces and expands what is already a grossly unfair tax burden for low and middle-income wage earners. Not only is Ballot Measure 20-211 unfair, but it fails to deliver on the promise to fund essential services beyond the 2014 budget, and it’s permanent.