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The Columbia County Spotlight's weekly mailbag includes thoughts on power production, student loan debt and more.

Editor's note: Have a letter to share? Email your thoughts to Editor-in-Chief Mark Miller at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Letters should be no more than 400 words. All submissions must include the name and hometown of the author. Submissions should not include profane or defamatory language. We may lightly edit submissions for style and clarity. We encourage writers to suggest their own headline when submitting a letter; otherwise, a headline may be generated based on the contents of the letter.

Nuclear waste isn't worth the carbon savings

In her opinion piece advocating for nuclear power in Oregon, the most chilling argument against is in McKenna Zandecki's own words: "...across the country, many nuclear plants have been safely disposing of their waste, without any federal agencies ... to monitor this process."

With no monitoring, how do we know it's being done safely? Trust the fox in charge of the hen house?

For that matter, is not "safe nuclear waste disposal" an oxymoron? Nuclear waste remains a deadly toxic threat for tens of thousands of years, e.g. Hanford's underground tanks leaking radioactive waste inexorably toward the Columbia River.

Read the Aug. 5, 2022, commentary by McKenna Zandecki in favor of nuclear power.

Until nuclear technology develops a way to utilize for fuel the huge cache of spent reactor rods already in existence, nuclear power is not a safe, clean power source regardless of its carbon footprint.

Dr. David A. Middle, St. Helens

Unimpressed with changes to Oregon's elections

Oregon was first in the nation to have a vote-by-mail system after nearly 17 years of testing and incremental steps of implementation, yet still the state Legislature felt it necessary to push the envelope further.

According to the latest legislative update, Oregon ballots are now accepted as long as the postmark shows the day of the election. No more announcing the winner on the 11 o'clock news the night of the election, but one or two weeks later, as seen in the Southwest Washington and Alaska elections. We may not know who the new Oregon governor is until we are sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table. Progress!

Another step forward is the motor voter rule, registering voters as they apply for or renew their driver's license. Some of us are left wondering how many ballots are sent out to illegal immigrants.

Then there is that old question, "How accurate and complete is the Voters' Pamphlet?" and does the voter know or fully understand what or whom they're voting for or against. Have you read it aloud to check it for clarity? It takes a lawyer! But hey, be sure you sign your ballot — it's a legal document — but oh, what about that unreadable misprinted barcode?

"Ho, Ho, Ho," Secretary of State Shemia Fagan bellowed with holiday cheer as she sat around the yuletide fire validating the election, reading the list twice to find out who is naughty or nice of the county election officials.

Have a Happy Election!

Joe Turner, Columbia City

People are responsible for choices they make, including college

It has been now more than two years since the pause for repayment of student loans started.

Our current president has elected to continue that pause despite his repeated claims of how great the economy is doing. We have low unemployment — roughly 3.5% nationally and 2.8% for those with a bachelor's degree.

By continuing this pause, it adds a hidden tax and inflation effect to all Americans. The money these former students should be paying towards their loans is a causing a false cashflow to the economy. Injecting empty dollars into the economy dilutes the value of the dollar.

We are creating too many Captain McCreas in our society. I am referencing the character in the movie "Wall-E" who has not learned to stand on his own two feet.

Are we loving our children by holding them accountable or hating them by rewarding them for being irresponsible?

My view is we are doing a disservice by not holding people accountable. We cannot afford to keep kicking this can down the road. Those who however ignorantly they made that decision to go to college need to suck it up, not wait for a bailout.

How did we get into this situation to begin with? In my family, I am the only one earning, and I can say as a father of five that did go to college I had some stake in the game. We had debt for nearly all, and three have completed that obligation.

Colleges have no responsibility to see your success. They will gladly sign you up for $50,000, saying you have plenty of time to pay that back. Easy for them to say.

Yes, there needs to be accountability all around. Parents and high school counselors need not cave to colleges saying everyone needs to go to college. There needs to be some sanity in the decision process, and part of that is that taxpayers are not responsible for your education — you are.

There is a very famous quote by a well-known president, "Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country."

You did not consult with me when you signed up for that bill for a degree that was projected to pay you $40,000 to $50,000, so why am I included to to pay for it?

Greg Rooker, Forest Grove


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