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Our weekly mailbag includes a response to a January letter, thoughts on healthcare and concern for small businesses.

Letter comparing Democrats to Nazis was absurd

On Jan. 21, 2021, The Times published a letter from James Caster that compared Democrats to Nazis, calling the Capitol insurrection their Reichstag Fire.

I find this comparison absurd and disturbing. First, President Donald Trump does bear responsibility for what happened, not only because of the rally, but for his big lie since the election, that it was stolen and that he won by a landslide, and his failure to concede.

Refer to James Caster's Jan. 21, 2021, published letter to the editor.

The purpose of many of the rioters was to stop the certification of the electoral votes and give the election to Trump, behavior that is in line with fascism.

Democrats are not calling for the censorship of "all their political enemies" as Caster states, and even many Republicans, now that they've seen the true nature of Trumpism, think he should be condemned for his part in what was a failed coup.

Rolf Semprebon, Portland

We need access to healthcare now more than ever

As an essential worker who doesn't meet my employer's requirements for healthcare enrollment, the worry that comes from falling in and out of insurance programs or being dependent on another family member's benefits has only increased throughout the pandemic.

Access to quality healthcare was already a prominent issue for many Oregonians, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the shortfalls of the system. Job uncertainty and fluctuating income are no reason for someone to be without access to necessary medical resources and services, especially as we try to handle COVID-19 and maintain our economy. That's why a public healthcare option should be a top priority for Oregon lawmakers.

I want to thank Rep. Andrea Salinas for championing the public option legislation; not only does she understand that this policy can bring much needed help now, but also how it will improve the overall quality of life for Oregonians in the future.

Ashley Hilfer, Hillsboro

CARES funds needed to help struggling businesses

In early November 2020, a conservative political activist and logging company owner sued to block the Oregon Cares Fund, a relief program established to support Black Oregonians, Black-owned businesses and Black-led non-profits suffering disproportionate harm from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shortly thereafter other Oregon business owners joined the suit, requesting class-action status.

Many Oregonians and Oregon businesses have suffered during the pandemic. But Black Oregonians have been hit hardest and received less aid from existing COVID-19 relief efforts.

Black Oregonians are more than three times as likely as white Oregonians to contract COVID-19. Unequal access to relief for workers and businesses has compounded public health disparities.

Black business owners have had a harder time securing coronavirus relief and Black-owned businesses have been closing at higher rates than white-owned businesses during the pandemic.

The Oregon Cares Fund seeks to address these disparities through targeted aid to people and businesses who've been harmed the most and received the least help.

The plaintiffs in this case are not without recourse to relief funds. Oregon received over $1.3 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding.

Yes, Oregonians and Oregon small businesses need still more relief dollars to carry us through this unrelenting pandemic. Denying relief to a community clearly identified as most impacted and who is being left behind, does nothing to secure the additional resources that all Oregonians desperately need at this time.

It is time to work together for the common good to secure those additional resources.

Jim Houser

Co-Chair, Main Street Alliance of Oregon

Are the elderly expendable in COVID policy?

Gov. Kate Brown and Patrick Allen (head of the Oregon Health Authority) have done what ethical, religious, government and indigenous leaders over several millennia, and more recently the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 45 other states, have not. That is to teach an entire generation of children, their parents, teachers, doctors and other medical providers, our business leaders, and our current and future government policy makers, that when push comes to shove, the elderly are expendable — as a matter of government policy.

This is poor leadership, without a moral center, and sets a bad and unwise precedent for us today as well as for future generations looking back on our time for guidance.

In a recent Oregon Public Broadcasting interview, Allen admitted that "some (elderly) will die" as a result of teachers taking priority over elders for COVID-19 vaccination. It's infuriating to hear a government leader make such decisions and statements with impunity.

Who are we as Oregonians when we allow such callous disregard for some of the most vulnerable among us?

Some teachers know it's wrong and have said so, to their credit.

Nancy Murray, Portland


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