Letters: Wildfires stir public anger
I am sad and angry about the recent wildfires in Oregon; sad that acres of forest were burned and animals died, that so many homes and businesses were destroyed, that lives were lost. And angry that we weren't prepared for this event, that money and resources are wasted on fighting fires and logging in the backcountry instead of used to protect communities.
I'm angry that power lines weren't turned off in extreme wind, that our evacuation and emergency response is insufficient, that burning fossil fuels in changing the climate.
Wildfire resources are wasted on industrial logging practices that remove moisture and carbon and resilient ecosystems and replace them with highly flammable, even-aged tree farms. We need labor-intensive, sustainable forest management to revive jobs in the forest through restoration work, including prescribed burns. We need to transform our homes and communities to adapt to wildfires and other climate-driven catastrophes.
Let's revive our economy with jobs for people to adapt our infrastructure and systems to meet our changing needs. We need better planning that it's smart about resources, protecting communities and increasing resiliency to climate change.
Thank you to the firefighters and farmworkers, and the neighbors and volunteers offering housing, food and aid.
Governor's school plan is unworkable
It's time for Gov. Kate Brown to admit the truth: There is no plan to get our kids back in school and her school re-opening metrics are unattainable. The data show Portland has never hit these metrics and never will.
We need a plan for our kids to get back in school that doesn't solely rely on the wide distribution and consumption of a vaccine, because it's unclear: 1) when a vaccine will be widely available, 2) whether it will be highly effective, and 3) taken by a significant part of the population.
Waiting for a vaccine is risky and costly. Students are not learning and depression is rising for our kids. We also know that while virtual school is available, attendance is generally poor. And the impact isn't just on our kids. Adults are struggling with mental health issues and choosing between a job to feed their kids and being home for their kids' remote schooling.
Recent research shows schools are not "super spreaders" of the virus with infection rates under half a percent. Schools can take measures, such as improved air filtration and ventilation as well as improved rapid testing to reduce and quickly identify risks of infection. There is money for these types of investments. The state of Oregon received $1.4 billion in CARES Act funding and well over $100 million remains unspent.
The governor should not let the current state of affairs become the new normal. These unworkable school reopening metrics hurt kids and adults. And while kids and adults shouldn't be at risk unnecessarily, we also should realize that not opening puts people at risk as well. It's time Gov. Brown gets a plan to keep our kids safe AND return them to their schools.
Help the homeless, not government 'bandits'
The local study of homelessness, "2019 Point-in-time, in Portland, Gresham and Multnomah County," found that "the challenge of finding and maintaining affordable housing is exacerbated (for) those extremely low income households who face additional obstacles to housing stability including (among other groups) those living on fixed incomes from Social Security or disability that are below the cost of living."
By any reasonable measure people living on Social Security are on extremely low incomes, as their cost of living continually increases.
More specifically, the report found the Housing and Urban Development homeless population among the over-55 age group to be 23.4% of the total homeless population. The change in HUD homeless population between the counts for 2017 and 2019 found that those older than 70 increased 75%, those 55 to 69 increased 11.7%, other age groups declined.
Nowhere in the report does it attribute the problem of homelessness to Multnomah County's draconian and relentlessly increasing property taxes on people living on Social Security or disability yet as this is a major cause of homelessness.
Economist Mancur Olsen observed that governments are stationary bandits. Institutionalized banditry means voting does not help. The only near solution for low-income elderly in Multnomah County is to escape to a place with less greedy bandits.
We need to stop protest damage
I read the story re the damage at the Oregon Historical Society and that both sides decried the damages.
I would suggest what I think might be a simple solution: When anyone begins to damage private, government or nonprofit buildings both sides who are there for protests only should step back from the damagers and looters, take photos of them and call the police.
If these folk moved away so the vandals had no cover they could be identified and arrested. The protestors could regroup a few blocks away at a predetermined area that their group had set up for this sort of problem.
There may be a downside to this, but something needs to be done to discourage the criminal element that uses the protestors to cover their vandalism.
How about it? Think outside the box. If this isn't feasible, what's your idea?
Don't leave people waiting for COVID-19 cure
I am a community organizer in Portland, working on behalf of progressive candidates and policies.
Right now, I'm feeling extremely thankful for all the work our legislators have done to help Oregonians in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. But I must continue to urge that this is not over. I don't believe the pandemic will be over until we have a vaccine for COVID-19 and elected leaders who believe in science and research.
As a person who has watched our country flounder for answers on to how to address our health care system, I'm disheartened to see more floundering by way of recent proposals and policies coming from the administration. One such policy is the most favored nation health care policy, which works to put restrictions on pharmaceutical innovation. In the middle of a pandemic, our country needs increased pharmaceutical innovation and it's disappointing to see the current person in the White House disregard this.
My paternal grandfather died of heart disease after working as a postal carrier his entire life. In my family there is a long history of cancer and diabetes. I, myself, was in a serious car accident and have been dealing with chronic pain since.
We cannot leave people waiting for cures that won't come. The need to push for innovation and drug development has never been so clear.
I hope Oregon's lawmakers will stand up for patients and put families throughout our community who, like mine, are awaiting a cure — both for the specific issues that plague us and for COVID-19.
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