LETTERS IN THE EDITOR'S MAILBAG.
How Oregon can raise money
One of the fundamental rules of civilized life is that we tend first to the needs of the most vulnerable, even in a crisis. The Legislature's Ways & Means Committee should consider not only budget cuts but new taxes based on ability to pay.
During the last economic cycle, Oregon did even better than the rest of the country, but all the gains went to those in the top two-fifths of the pay scale. The richest 1,500 Oregon households had about $28 billion in total income, nearly equaling total state general fund revenue for the period.
An 11 percent bracket for joint filers making over a half-million dollars or singles making half that would raise about $480 million a biennium, from fewer than one in 100 Oregon taxpayers. We should also raise another $750 million a bi ennium from profitable corporations. The current $10 minimum tax was set in 1931. For details and more, see State of Working Oregon 2008-09 at www.ocpp.org/cgi-bin/display.cgipage=reports.
These two measures alone would prevent many cuts, preserving lives, livelihoods and hundreds of millions in federal matching funds.
While enabling the Department of Justice to enforce civil rights and environmental laws, we should explore whether environmental enforcement might also raise revenue for the general fund.
And the Legislature should ask our congressional delegation to seek a second federal stimulus package, primarily as aid to states. Otherwise, $350 billion in state service cuts and tax increases over 2009-10 will negate about half of the federal stimulus thus far.
Don't paper the forest
OK, girls. What is it with all this toilet paper?
Every time the sun comes out, little toilet paper gardens blossom like spring flowers behind trees and brush along hiking paths and roadways all over Oregon.
Contrary to what you may think, chipmunks do not eat toilet paper, and these disgusting messes take a long time to go away by themselves. So, for those of you whose mothers failed to teach you how to pee in the woods, I offer two little words of instruction: Drip dry.
That's right. You don't need toilet paper. Pee freely, with gusto. Then give it a little shake, pull up your panties and walk away. No fuss. No unsightly mess.
If you simply must use toilet paper, pee, blot, then fold the damp paper and put it in your pocket. If a little dampness in your pocket grosses you out, bring a plastic bag and put the paper in there until you can dispose of it properly.
Women, and men of course, in my family have been peeing in the woods in Oregon and dripping dry for more than 150 years with no adverse outcomes. So I say to you, as my great-grandmother said to her girls when they traveled the Oregon Trail: Drip dry. Oregon will thank you.
The blind are driving the bus
It's clear that, once again, the Lane Transit District fails to see the big picture on what's happening in our community.
How unutterably sad that the transit district will be talking with University of Oregon student leaders "to try to address the problem of students throwing up on the (late night weekend) bus," rather than identifying and speaking out on the real problem of rising youth (and more) alcoholism which causes drunken behavior and vandalism, and shatters lives, families and communities.
Never one to miss a beat, LTD spokesperson Andy Vobora intoned, "People have been pretty good using the garbage can, but it does create some problems for us cleaning the bus and getting ready for the next day."
Wow. How can you be so blind and still drive a bus?
LTD, ostensibly a leader in promoting well-being and sustainability, could have vision and become a strong force for good in Lane County by directly addressing an issue like alcoholism and problem drinking through naming it correctly and then educating the community and instituting policies that will help folks get the treatment and counseling that they need.
LTD is in a prime position to take a lead on this, since it affects the district directly. But no, LTD chooses to fuss about clean buses and to continue doing community service like cutting down beautiful trees along Pioneer Parkway and not listening to the community about the siting of the EmX bus routes.
Can school districts be merged?
I've just read the articles about the candidates for the Eugene School Board and find it hard to grasp any important differences among any of them. So, how to vote?
I guess I'm disappointed that all of them seem intent on closing schools early and getting teachers to give up some pay. I can't help wondering why we have such huge bureaucracies in individual school districts.
How much is going to the administrative side of the budget? What are they giving up? Can we think outside the box and perhaps combine some of the school districts under one superintendent? Or some other way streamline this aspect?
When did this bureaucratic design get initiated? What was it supposed to accomplish? Why do we hold it sacrosanct? Can The Register-Guard do an article looking into the history of school districts and answer some of these questions before May 19?
Bethel folks donated tons
I'm writing to express my appreciation to people in the Bethel neighborhood for all their help in making the first Bethel Kids Clothes Giveaway a success.
In one month, families from the Bethel school district and Bethesda Lutheran Church donated literally tons of gently used children's clothes to help out families in need. Though many of our families are struggling right now, they still wanted to help out their community. Because of their generosity, 290 people were able to attend the giveaway and pick out clothes for their kids.
I am so proud to live in a place that values kids and families.
Fairness is offshore tax goal
President Obama's desire to tax the profits earned abroad by American multinational corporations at a rate commensurate with profits earned in the United States is being obscured by the rhetoric of competitiveness and its benevolent consequences.
On May 5, the Financial Times quotes the president of the Business Roundtable complaining that the president's proposals will by themselves somehow "cripple economic growth, reduce the competitiveness of U.S. companies overseas and destroy jobs." This crippling, reduction and destruction will deprive us as consumers of the many benefits these corporations currently provide.
But what about rebuilding faith in the notion that as citizens we should all be treated equally, especially under the tax codes, where we, collectively, generate the revenues to support government services?
Citizenship and even capitalism are abstractions until we do our taxes, and then we learn how privilege affects our lives. It has been the greatest burden of the Obama administration, whatever the content of their specific legislative proposals, to dispel the moral confusion spewed by Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and even the charming Bill Clinton, who, with his odd confederate Phil Gramm of Texas, promoted the legislation that repealed the Glass-Steagal Act.
They all pandered to our egos as atomistic consumers rather than educating us as citizens to our common responsibilities.
The proposal by President Obama to close offshore tax loopholes is not about international competitiveness but about domestic tax equity, about making us believe, again, that we have an equal stake in supporting the republic.
UO thinks big makes right
I have never given much thought to the big O on Autzen Stadium. After all, what's one more eyesore on top of an eyesore?
However, I could hardly believe my eyes when I read (Register-Guard, May 6) that the University of Oregon presumes that Autzen Stadium cannot be regulated by the city simply because it is "too big to regulate." This sort of "might-makes-right" attitude leaves the bad impression that UO sports does indeed build character - the worst kind.
Both the university athletic department and the administration need to understand that they are indeed citizens of their community. This flap makes me embarrassed to be a UO alumnus.
Market `billboard' is worse
Like the woman who objects to the big "O" sign on Autzen Stadium, I too have a perfect view of the sign from my house just below the west edge of Hendricks Park - but my reaction the day it went up was quite the opposite.
I thought it was the perfect finishing touch to a fine architectural composition, perfectly proportioned to the size of the building mass on which it was placed.
This is partly due, I expect, to the fact that an O can be seen not only as a letter of the alphabet but also as a simple, abstract figure - quite different than if it was an R, N, W or almost any other letter. So it becomes a handsome focal point just like a jeweled pendant worn on a well-dressed lady's sweater.
I cringe when I drive by the south side of the 5th Street Market where the whole facade is just one giant billboard. I have to think that if this is acceptable under the Eugene sign code, then we have no code of consequence.
And if this is allowed to stand while the big "O" is taken down, then we have truly lost our way in trying to regulate design.
Richard Glenn Williams