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Letters in the Editor's Mailbag.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Glad to omit words

When I was a boy in high school, I wondered how we could insert the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and still advocate separation of church and state. I thought it wrong then, and every time since that I have recited the pledge, I have omitted those two words.

Now, after 48 years of bristling at this obvious break in the wall separating church and state, I at least have the pleasure of knowing that a federal court agreed with me.

I don't expect the ruling to stand - the political processes of our country are too infected with Christian pseudo-morality to permit that - but I will continue to omit those words.


Passions driving protests

Federal Forest Service employees often are accused of unethical behavior because they are engaged in forest management. Anti-forestry zealots, distended with moral superiority, leak on about the unethical federal forest management practices, their words fraught with freshly learned cliches wanting context.

Their concerns are related to the illusory dire environmental consequences of forest management. Admittedly, most know nothing about the environmental guardianship of the Northwest Forest Plan, know nothing about forest fire disturbance history, know nothing about forest genetics and know nothing about the political entanglement of fisheries management. Apparently, choices are simple when one is under the enchantment and dead weight of ignorance.

Human passions, fortunately and unfortunately, are responsible for both illuminated and depraved environmental behavior. Many repudiate forest management based on outdated perceptions and a veneration for the forests, which rejects all non-amenity options for resource management.

Wendell Berry wrote: "People cannot live apart from nature, and, yet, people cannot live in nature without changing it. Only a healthy local economy can keep nature and work together in the consciousness of the community."

We may chose between Berry or the nihilists who myopically refuse to acknowledge, understand or to foresee the potential for a new environmental conceptual framework that is evolving to put ecological health in the forefront of resource decisions.


Pay for carbon disposal

George Bush finally admitted that global warming is a reality but declined to offer any solutions. Let's help him with some policy suggestions.

Global warming is caused by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. The solution is to start removing the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and to stop putting more in. There are numerous studies and pilot projects that have looked at ways to sequester carbon in forests, in the deep ocean or deep underground. The costs vary from $30 to $200 to sequester one ton of atmospheric carbon.

If we don't want to burden our children with an even greater carbon dioxide problem, we should adopt a pay-as-you-go approach and clean up after ourselves. Each of us is responsible for several tons of carbon entering the atmosphere each year. If you drive your car 12,000 miles per year, it puts about two tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Disposing of that carbon would increase the price of a gallon of fuel by about 40 cents.

A policy that would assess an upfront disposal fee for carbon in fuels would allow market forces to select the optimum mix of future technologies. Renewable energy such as wind and solar technologies would become more competitive. The money collected in up-front disposal fees would go to a new major industry - carbon sequestration. Part of this industry includes the re-forestation of available land. With policies that factor in the true costs of our industrial processes, we can contemplate a cleaner, greener world.


Two new bunkers

A 21-raspberry salute, please! Announcing a new architectural genre in our fair town: the bunker! Or is this a mentality? I suggest that Eugeneans check out the new library on Olive Street and the new Safeway on 18th Avenue.


Eugene is not pristine

Hooray for Donna Nigon (letters, June 25). While this community claims to welcome diversity, the truth is quite the opposite.

The biggest problem with people in this area is that they honestly believe that Eugene is unique, and they bandy the word "pristine" about as if this area actually is pristine. But pristine means uncorrupted. The McKenzie River is not pristine. The Willamette River is closer to a cesspool than it is pristine. After 20 years in Alaska before moving here, I can tell you that most of Alaska is not pristine, either. Humans have touched the Earth all over with their trash.

While working in Prudhoe Bay in 1985, I found McDonald's hamburger wrappers while working out on the polar ice cap in the middle of winter. The nearest McDonald's was in Fairbanks, 300-plus miles away. A wonderful human being thought it was "cool" to have brought the burgers to Prudhoe, then threw the trash to the wind.

While Oregon and the Eugene-Springfield area have their attributes, this area is not pristine, let alone unique.

GREG HARRIS Springfield

Teachers paid too much

Even during the boom times of the 1990s, the education lobby has declared an "education crisis" and more money for schools has been needed for the "children." Folks, the problem is not that we don't pay enough taxes, but rather that our state, local and school districts spend too much money on employee compensation.

As an example, let's examine Eugene School District teachers. The average Oregonian earns about $23,000 per year, often has no retirement benefits or at most 3 percent of pay, and often has no medical insurance or at most an employer contribution of $3,000. Contrast this with an average Eugene teacher whose pay is $45,000 per year, has an employer contribution to Oregon Public Employees Retirement System of 12 to 20 percent of pay, and an employer medical contribution of $6,000. Also, it should be noted that a teacher works less than nine months per year.

A teacher merely restates subject matter mastered when attending school. All it takes is a desire to work with kids and a few child psychology courses to better understand them. When you hear the plea for more money for the children, remember it is really for their own children in the form of higher compensation.

Evidence of their true motivation is seen by the recent union agreement reached while the state was in the budget crisis. Instead of negotiating a wage rollback, they further increased their pay and benefits and continued the PERS problem. If you care about our schools and our children, demand reductions of government employee compensation.

J. A. MOORE Eugene

Don't blame Legislature

Helen Solem's notion (letters, June 24) that Oregon's bureaucracy is too large and that our budget has atrociously increased more than the budget of any other state is ignorant and completely lacking in true reasoning. I suggest that all readers learn something about the state's government and its budgetary history.

Oregon's budget has increased "more than any state in the nation" due to a number of significant budget cutting acts in the federal and statewide arena. Federal spending in areas such as education, transportation, and health care has been reduced over the past 15 years. In Oregon, a nasty little initiative called Measure 5 cut property taxes while also cutting severely into the tax base that funded schools and other government services. These two changes and others have forced the Legislature to spend more to provide the services Oregonians cannot live without.

Oregonians have an increasing problem: They want services like high-quality health care, education and safe and accessible transportation; however, they are unwilling to pay for them. Hence government becomes the bad guy because it has to raise taxes to cover the cost of these services.

Please be educated. Solem has the freedom to not believe what I say - however, I do ask that she not remain ignorant about what it takes to run government. Oregonians should not blame the problems on the Legislature if they are ignorant about the challenges lawmakers face. If they have a problem with how the government is operating, then they should exercise their civic duty and contact their legislators. Contrary to popular belief, here in Oregon they do listen.

SARA M. CHAMBERS Cottage Grove

Remove 'justice,' too

The time has come to come out of the dark ages. The Pledge of Allegiance is to the country, not to God. America was not founded for religion but for the freedom of religion. I only wish we could have a freedom from religion.

The other part of the pledge that should be changed or deleted is justice for all. Justice is for rich white people. Minorities have a disproportionate number of citizens in jail. I do not think we can rely on Chairman George Bush to change anything. His loyalty is to money. The people have to stand up to the government so we can keep our freedom.

Remember, this country is based on freedom.

VERNON BELL Springfield


The Register-Guard welcomes letters on topics of general interest. Our length limit is 250 words; all letters are subject to condensation. Writers are limited to one letter per calendar month. Because of the volume of mail, not all letters can be printed. Letters must be signed with the writer's full name. An address and daytime telephone number are needed for verification purposes; this information will not be published or released. Mail letters to Mailbag, P.O. Box 10188, Eugene, OR 97440-2188 Fax: 338-2828 E-mail:
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Jun 30, 2002
Previous Article:The end of Fairness.
Next Article:Breaking down the wall.

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