Letters: Stop blaming poor for homelessness
Jim Speirs and Eric Blatter took time to write about the poor's lack of personal responsibility, while Mr. Speirs also took time to laud the sacrifices of The Greatest Generation (Letters, March 29).
Well I've got some news for Mr. Speirs: Most of the homeless I meet in Northwest Portland are elderly veterans, suffering the consequences of their sacrifice and/or being aged out of the work force. Their options for personal responsibility to lift them out of poverty are practically nonexistent.
Denigrating and blaming the poor for their circumstances is at least as old as Dickens. Speaking of personal responsibility, Dickens did not write favorably about those who would make their chains of indifference "link by link, and yard by yard" of their own free will to wear for eternity.
Honor King; end hunger
April 4, 2018 marks the 50th year since Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Rev. Chuck Currie, in the Tribune's MyView of March 27 (Honor King, fight for social justice) reminds us all of what King stood for and that we, too, should join together for social justice and human progress, no matter what stands in our way.
In King's 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, he addressed the magnitude of the inequality facing the poorest people of the world, both here and abroad. King said:
"Almost two-thirds of the peoples of the world go to bed hungry at night. They are undernourished, ill-housed, and shabbily clad. Many of them have no houses or beds to sleep in."
In more recent times, we have decreased the poverty of children under 5 by over half. How? Because ordinary citizens like you and me spoke out. King knew (as Rev. Currie points out) that our leaders who know better often embrace silence, and they must be provoked to address injustice.
The current Reach Every Mother and Child Act is a bipartisan effort to put an end to the deaths caused by poverty. Let's thank Reps. Kurt Schrader, Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, and Peter DeFazio for co-sponsoring this act for fiscal 2019.
Let's make hunger a thing of the past. Call your representatives and ask them not to cut the 2019 foreign aid budget, so we can turn hunger into something that only exists in a museum.
Steve and Janet Brumbaugh
Replace NAFTA; don't make it worse
President Donald Trump must secure a new deal that eliminates the North American Free Trade Agreement's incentives to outsource American jobs and levels the playing field by adding strong labor and environmental provisions with swift and certain enforcement to raise wages for all workers.
Oregon has lost 12,000 of its manufacturing jobs since NAFTA and other similar trade deals went into effect.
More than 68,000 specific Oregon jobs have been certified, under just one narrow government program, as lost to outsourcing or imports under NAFTA. Every week, NAFTA helps corporations outsource more middle-class jobs to Canada and Mexico, including recently at GE, Carrier and Nabisco.
According to the Department of Labor, manufacturing workers who lose jobs to trade and find re-employment typically are forced to take pay cuts. Two of every five rehired in 2016 were paid less in their new jobs. One in four lost greater than 20 percent of their income. That means a $7,700 pay cut for the median-wage manufacturing worker earning $38,000.
This is opposite of what NAFTA boosters promised 23 years ago when the deal was debated by Congress. They promised that NAFTA would improve the U.S. trade balance with Mexico and Canada, and create 200,000 new jobs each of NAFTA's first five years.
Meanwhile, corporations have collected more than $392 million in taxpayer money using NAFTA's "investor-state" tribunals where corporations can sue governments before panels of three private lawyers to demand unlimited sums of taxpayer funds over our environmental and health laws that they claim violate the corporations' NAFTA rights.
We want a NAFTA replacement that raises wages and creates good jobs for people in Oregon and across the nation.
Tackett is secretary/treasurer of the NW Oregon Labor Council.
Don't subsidize builders
Builder tax breaks to encourage affordable housing is a terrible idea. (Developers encouraged to build more affordable apartments, March 21 Tribune website). It is a back-door way of raising property taxes without voter approval.
Zero tax on an apartment house for 10 years means everyone who is paying taxes must make up that shortfall, to fund the schools, the city, the county, etc.
The current proposal, using the lowest-cost estimate, builds 300 units for $30 million in tax breaks. To be clear, that would be subsidizing the rent of 300 units to the tune of $100,000 each, or $830 per month per unit for 10 years.
Wouldn't it be more honest to just write checks to people in need, hoping their need might not last 10 full years? Another alternative, for the same money, would provide subsidies of $400 per month for 625 different units for 10 years.
Do not raise property taxes. If you want to subsidize rent, do it openly with a check.