LETTERS IN THE EDITOR'S MAILBAG.
Feedback should run both ways
Mary Leighton is a local hero for speaking clearly and honestly regarding what we call education. Her insights (guest viewpoint, Nov. 9) are piercing and keen. If only we have the political and social will. Time will tell.
However, I would add one more suggestion to her list regarding insights. When all feedback only travels from the top down, critical analysis becomes gravely limited. Including student-up and teacher-to-administrator evaluations and analysis could substantially help balance our teetering educational system. At least we could see the whole picture.
Our education system must teach to the needs of this generation and not teach to the past, with a clear vision of its target.
Republicans piled on the debt
Steve Hawke (letters, Nov. 8 ) yearns for the days of fiscal sanity without defining the term. During the George H.W. Bush administration the debt to gross domestic product ratio increased by 15 percent. In Bill Clinton's first term it decreased 0.7 percent and by another 9 percent in his second term. During George W. Bush's first term the ratio increased 7.1 percent, and by a whopping 20 percent in his second term. So, one wonders what days Hawke is yearning for. This information came from the U.S. Treasury Department, which generally tends to be more accurate than that emanating from the Fox news media.
As for raising taxes on the middle class, I must admit to envying Hawke, who, I assume, is in that elite group with incomes exceeding $250,000 a year, since he is so concerned with the issue.
Finally, Hawke shouldn't shed too many tears over Chris Dudley losing the gubernatorial election. He will go back to making the rich, who supported him, even richer - and who knows, he may even be able to sign up a few of the millionaire waitresses he kvetched about during his campaign.
UO infringes on bike paths
It's pretty rich to see University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere popping up like Phil Knight's personal garden gnome, photographed lecturing students about respect for the law when the UO has been flouting the law for years.
I refer to the UO's practice of running motorized vehicles on city bike paths. I have noted them over the years and have complained to the police, to the city bicycle coordinator, the parks department, and finally a trio of stone-walling public "service" officers. These last offered a quaint smorgasbord of excuses, beginning with "UO doesn't do it that much" to "the city has an informal agreement with UO that allows it to run motorized vehicles on bike and pedestrian paths."
I checked with the Oregon Department of Transportation on this last bit. UO has a tradition of not writing important agreements down, true, but the city does not in fact have the authority to allow anyone, however well-connected or obnoxious, to violate state law. I have since attempted to contact the city about this fact from ODOT, but officials have yet to return my calls. Big surprise.
So UO does as it jolly well pleases, the community be damned. And now UO wants an armed police force, accountable to no elected official, to patrol those parts of the city on its fringes?
I would encourage anyone who uses the city paths to complain to the city concerning the UO's assumption of privilege, and the toadyism practiced by the city of Eugene.
Soda tax was good health policy
The Register-Guard's Nov. 2 editorial, "Soda tax in trouble: Trade group fires Washington barrage," raised some good points not only about the undue influence of big moneyed special interests in the initiative process, but also about the very nature of soft drinks.
The beverage industry ran an expensive and misleading campaign, depicting families on tight budgets struggling to buy necessities like food. But soda isn't food. And our addiction to sugary beverages has contributed to increasing rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States spends close to $150 billion yearly in health care costs related to obesity. The average Oregonian - including children - consumes a gallon of sugary drinks a week. That's an important statistic when considering that 61 percent of Oregon adults are overweight or obese, and that if trends are not reversed one in three children born in 2000 will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime. A tax on sugary drinks would help recoup the health care costs inflicted on society by an industry that is already highly taxpayer subsidized.
I'm sorry to see Washington state's tax on soda get repealed. It was both fiscally necessary and good public health policy.
Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth
Tunnel challenge should be met
Regarding The Register-Guard's Nov. 5 story on Lee "The Horselogger" Crafton's stalled expedition:
Completed in 1941, the Salt Creek Tunnel, at 905 feet in length, is a proud engineering accomplishment of the Works Projects Administration. Last month 33 Chilean miners were rescued from beneath 2,050 feet of rock through a 28-inch wide shaft. I remain a flaming liberal despite the midterm election results, but I must admit I awoke this morning with a libertarian stripe.
Perhaps to ultimately manage a 3-mile-an-hour horse through a 900-foot tunnel, we need to replace a few jackasses at Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon highway patrol.
Why did labor decline?
Columnist Bob Herbert (Nov. 3) cites a new book which concludes that the "rich get richer because they know how to control D.C." Politics "is largely organized combat, a form of warfare." Hence, those who are organized - the rich - can more effectively bring pressure to bear upon politicians.
The authors further cite the decline of organized labor, "the most effective force fighting on behalf of the middle class," as one of several causes behind the recent surge of "big business" clout.
In my opinion, the authors' analyses fall short by not exploring all the reasons for the recent decline of organized labor. During my 30 years in business in California, I observed that organized labor - and the salaries and benefits it promises - was undermined by a flood of immigrants (yes, some illegal) who were willing to work for wages far below the prevailing wage in many trades.
We have all been complicit in this. "Big business" sought to fight the effects of globalization on its bottom line by hiring cheap labor - legal or otherwise. "Progressives" saw an opportunity to swell the liberal vote by deliberately blurring the difference between legal and illegal. For my part, I know that my company profited from lower labor costs and I benefited from a 20-year span wherein prices for many commodities and services remained virtually unchanged.
I know I run the risk of being labeled a racist for even broaching this subject. But I know what I saw.
Hospitality or brainwashing?
Many Oregon city police chiefs went to Israel for a visit recently. Now I read that Oregon business, university and government leaders have gone to Israel for a nine-day visit to explore imports and exports. This seems ironic when most business issues with that nation in recent years have dealt with U.S. churches, schools and businesses divesting themselves from investments there because of Israel's aggression in Palestine.
Such hospitality by Israel - as in excesses of recent election advertising - seems a logical investment to bring in guests so they can be brainwashed.