Our readers also support small businesses and question private school fundraising pitch.

Jim Redden's "Lacking treatment, more end up on the street," (May 24) paints a pretty bleak picture for treating the drug-addicted homeless in Oregon, at least in the near term. But what troubled me even more was the implications of County Commissioner Sharon Meieran's comment that we are playing "whack-a-mole," where one drug of choice is simply replaced by a cheaper or more easily available alternative.

No one seems to know or even ask why that is. Why are Americans spending trillions, and many times their own lives, self-medicating with everything from alcohol to methamphetamine?

In much of Africa and Asia, for example, opioids are widely available from local pharmacies without a prescription. So why does America have an opioid crisis and they don't?

The answer must lie is some aspect of American society that creates the need to self-medicate with dangerous and often highly addictive drugs. We medicate our pain, of course, but we also self-medicate our depression and anxiety.

Perhaps it's time we started looking at our underlying illness for the sake of all our futures.

Stephen Shepherd

Northwest Portland

Katbi-Smith's ideas on small business don't match facts

Regarding the article in the May 24 Tribune about the state legislature providing tax breaks to small businesses: According to Olivia Katbi-Smith of the Democratic Socialists of America, she rejects the special session because, it's "a choice to increase the wealth ... at the expense of those struggling at the bottom."

Smith should consider that small businesses, especially sole proprietorships, are far from "rich." These small businesses don't have the amount of assets that larger businesses do and are not in any way "rich."

That said, I can't disagree more with her assertions.

Joe Worth


Hickok's view on education misses many crucial points

On May 31, the Portland Tribune ran a My View written by Kathryn Hickok titled "Private schools help low-income kids."

I certainly want to second the notion that many students who come from low-income families need help to succeed.

Sadly, Hickok failed to mention the complex issues that real families face in her effort to pat the Children's Scholarship Fund on the back for their efforts. A number of things were glossed over in her piece. The founders of this organization — one of the Walton heirs and a billionaire, now deceased, named Ted Forstmann — combined to give $100 million to get things off the ground. She states that, to date, over $741 million dollars has been given to private schools to offset the expenses of thousands of children who otherwise would not have access to an allegedly "better than public" education.

OK, that sounds laudable and impressive, but a brief examination on Google will reveal that perhaps there is less here than meets the eye. Walton, of the multiple billionaire Walmart fortune, and Forstmann, another multibillionaire, have both amassed staggering fortunes in ways that are troubling when we look closely at the issues of low-income students and education.

The Walton family has been rightly criticized for paying their employees such low wages that many, though working for Walmart, qualify for food stamps and other social service help. Yet, the members of this one family alone control more wealth than the combined population of more than 20 percent of the whole population of this country.

Forstmann was one of the original "Masters of the Universe," so-called for his amassing his own unfathomable fortune buying companies and quickly breaking them up and selling the parts. He used a business model that threw many thousands of people out of work.

That could not have helped the children of those families in their school years. So, this effort at giving "partial scholarships" for low-income students to attend some "private" schools could be viewed as a trifle of "noblesse oblige." Perhaps laudable, perhaps only to assuage their guilt at hurting many families to get where they are now.

Finally, my Google search makes it clear that Hickok's employer, Cascade Policy Institute, receives much of its funding from these same sources. That makes her editorial appear to be nothing but a self-serving paean to her superiors.

And, for all of this money spent, she had to admit that the results are "similar to or higher" than what is achieved in America's public school classrooms that serve everyone and not the highly selective admission process that most of these charter schools use.

Yes, our public schools need help. However, the more that the wealthiest, and corporations, take for themselves from the commonwealth of America, the harder it will be to achieve the meritocracy that the Founders envisioned.

Mark Schlemmer

Southeast Portland

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