I have been in the transportation business since 1978 and average around 70,000 miles on the road per year. I must disagree with the statement that speed is the No. 1 cause of death in traffic fatalities (Speed demons, beware, April 5).

From my experience it is usually the variances in speed that are the problem. When you have one person doing 70 miles an hour and another doing 45 mph on the interstate, a sudden movement by the slower driver can cause problems.

The problem that I have seen is the lack of patrols by our law enforcement officials on our major highways. There is a reason they are called traffic patrols, not speed patrols. Yet they focus too narrowly on speeders.

I have seen six Portland police motorcycle officers on the Oregon Zoo onramp to U.S. Highway 26 westbound. A seventh was sitting on the concrete wall with his lidar picking drivers off.

Would it not be a better use of police resources for them to disperse, with each pair of motorcycle officers patrolling each of our major freeways through the city?

I suggest picking up a copy of 'American Autobahn: The Road to an Interstate Freeway With No Speed Limit,' by Mark Rask. It is very enlightening as to the comparisons between the United States and Germany when it comes to driving practices.

Stephan Belding

Rose Courier Express


People instinctively work for common good

Humans are by nature social animals. We have an impulse toward both self-preservation and preservation of the group, however we choose to define the 'group.'

Out of this comes the ability to build institutional structures such as capitalism and communism. It is 'just our nature' to be greedy, but it is also just our nature to share and work together.

Sacrificing for a greater cause satisfies individual needs; it's just that it takes more thinking than more base impulses.

If I work to save the planet by using less, this makes me feel good about myself and gives me hope for the future of all beings. This does take more thought than 'I gotta get mine now,' but it satisfies both aspects of human nature.

I would suggest that this is more what being human is about. In America, we are constantly bombarded by reminders that we are in it for ourselves and need to screw the other guy. This isn't fully human nature but a myopic view.

If it is against our nature to 'sacrifice for the common good,' how did we manage to form tribes and nations? How did the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights come about?

If it is against our nature, as Bill McDonald asserts (In sex and in capitalism, it seems anything goes, Insight, March 29), to sacrifice for the common good, then how is it that we managed to work together for decades to defeat the 'evil menace' of communism?

And if communism is so much against human nature, why couldn't we just let it collapse on its own? Why would we need to expend such energy and money on something that doesn't speak to human nature?

Randy Robinson

Northeast Portland

Make kindness part

of nation's arsenal

I love America. I love the freedoms provided to us by the Constitution and democracy. I also love the unique diversity of the people and cultures, which makes this country strong.

In light of the events of Sept. 11, the security of this great nation is once again being threatened. The difference this time is that this war isn't only being fought in other parts of the world where we can read about it or watch it on the evening news but poses a genuine threat to our cities, communities and homes.

To me, this means that homeland security is not just an issue for the armed forces but an important concern to be addressed by every red-blooded American.

Everyone is so quick to jump on the bandwagon to protect our individual rights, such as free speech and the right to bear arms; however, with rights come responsibility. There must be a balance.

From my perspective, the price of freedom is constant vigilance. The duty of the strong is to lift up and protect the weak, to guard against ignorance, oppression, fear, greed and terror. This is not something that can be done by a few or just on weekends but a banner we all must bear proudly.

So many people have made sacrifices, many with their lives, to create, maintain and protect the 'land of the free.' Now it is our turn. Both young and old are being called upon to protect the freedoms we hold so dear Ñ not with guns, bars or gates, but with compassion, understanding and love, to reach out and support one another, to celebrate the diversity we all share.

Even a simple smile and kind word can go far in making this world a better place.

Robert Shields


Schools should come clean about 'crisis'

When will your paper 'make some waves' and take on the lack of truth being reported surrounding school funding (and government expansion in general)? Actual school funding went up 10 percent in the 1999-2001 budget cycle and this biennium is looking at another 11 percent increase. When will the press get out of the 'back pocket' of the Oregon Education Association?

As a business, you would think you would want higher circulation; telling the truth about what is not being reported would be a great way of doing this. It would make your paper stand out as a different voice.

As a taxpayer who continues to see more of my income withheld to support government, it is time to tell the truth so that change can happen. I am tired of more and more money being pumped into a failing school system and yet being told at the same time that more money is needed.

Government continues to grow even when the economy goes into a downturn. Name one company whose employees get guaranteed increases yearly even though the potential of decreased revenues exists!

To expand government requires me to 'cut' my own budget to meet the ever-increasing tax burden. It is time for people to start being told the truth: that 'cuts' in relation to governmental programs really mean a reduction in an increase of funding. In other words, a 'cut' means they still will get an increase, just not as large as they want. Why are government employees given these 'special rights'? Why am I expected to continue to fund every special interest group that comes along?

Rob Maricle

Southeast Portland

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