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Serving others can save our economy

Readers' Letters
by: L.E. BASKOW, PSU professor Barbara Dudley says one of the main reasons why Oregon is having trouble with jobs is because there’s no credit. Her bold idea to keep money in the local economy is to create a state bank to partner with Oregon-based community banks, generating more loans to homegrown employers.

Recently your paper had a great article on why Portland's unemployment rate is so high - we only manufacture durable goods, not consumer goods (Running on empty, Jan. 21).

I believe the story mentioned that primarily Portlanders (especially 20- and 30-year-old residents) work in the service industry. But then your story 'Can we cure what ails us?' (Feb. 18) omitted the most obvious cure: that Portland needs to be a leader in the service industry.

We have already been through the agricultural age, the industrial age and are currently in the information age. I believe that we are entering into a new age - the service age. My reasons: 1) the Baby Boomers are retiring and will need to be cared for; and 2) the recent economic meltdown has transformed our society into two classes - the rich and the poor. Thus, much as is the case in southern Florida, the poor serve the needs of the rich and the retired.

I believe this is an obvious fact that was not present in the Tribune article, and I think that the local government needs to focus on making Portland into one big retirement community (especially the Pearl District). There are still plenty of condos downtown that are uninhabited and plenty of homes throughout Portland that remain unsold. Sam Adams should focus his efforts on bringing retired people to our town rather than continuing to try and compete with China for manufacturing contracts for 'green' technologies - we simply cannot compete.

In conclusion, the most obvious way to cure (what ails us) is by expanding the market in Portland for what we do best - serving the needs of others. Only by focusing on this will we be able to provide jobs for the thousands of hipsters who flock to our city each year, provide jobs for the many jobless social-service providers (such as myself), and pump money into our economy.

Todd Altstadt

Southeast Portland

Planners are hurting economy

How about we stop legislating artificial limits for individual behavior, eliminate the urban growth boundary, streamline land use laws and increase road capacity so more people find Portland, and Oregon, a more appealing place to work, and live (Can we cure what ails us?, Feb 18)?

Neighborhoods used to hold mass appeal for diverse income groups. No more. Portland planners have successfully divided Portland by income with manipulative neighborhood associations, traffic management and expensive mass transit, displacing a diverse business environment with expensive high-density housing that has generally made our city and state less appealing to a broad spectrum of interests, skills and incomes.

This 'planning' has also restricted access to low and moderately priced housing, while eliminating most entry level jobs.

In a growing economy anything can be justified, but only until the economy tanks - like now. Then the true nature of these changes shows itself, and with people losing jobs and their homes, I would venture to say that all of our long-term planning, mass transit construction and land use laws have been a magnificent failure.

Mark Gravengaard

Northeast Portland

Share the work, think long term

I read your article on how to jump-start Portland's economy with enthusiasm, hoping that one of your respondents would have had something really eye-opening to say (Can we cure what ails us?, Feb 18).

I think they all assume that our goal is to head back to a 'full-employment' economy that we left behind a couple years ago and, I believe, will never be returning to again.

In a world where resources are shrinking (particularly cheap fossil fuel power), perhaps we should be thinking about the next 10 years as a last chance to put in place systems that will make the rest of human life easier. If we haven't already reached peak oil, peak water, and peak many other resources, we surely will soon.

Instead of using the time we have left with gas at $3.50 a gallon to get more people commuting to 40 hour a week jobs, we need to do two things:

• Figure out how to share the work better by turning the (available) jobs into 20 to 30 hour a week jobs, and share them.

• Build other systems that will make the transition to a world without cheap oil easier.

I suggest a commission for our metro area that will really question the assumptions we are all working under - trying to get back to 'full employment' at 40 hours a week. I just don't think it's ever coming back, and looking for other configurations of our work lives makes sense.

Albert Kaufman

Northeast Portland

Involve community, and innovate

Phillip McGarry, GREAT idea (Can we cure what ails us?, Feb 18)! I like the fact that you are thinking responsibly: Let's build this from the ground up, through the people, and not from the top down, from the Legislature.

It is a novel idea (for a race for cars powered by alternative fuels). But it nonetheless is not the silver bullet that is going to make our situation turn the corner. We'll need some bigger programs - primarily education and job creation, but ideas like Mr. McGarry's would serve as a forum to augment these. It is ideas like this that need to be implemented to start moving people in the direction of greater involvement and community innovation.

James Hakeem

Southwest Portland

Don't reward those who caused harm

This was a great article, as it covered many people facing the same problem - future uncertainty (Running on empty, Jan. 21). We became shocked at the recent Senate results in Massachusetts, but they are understandable when the polls have spent the year (focusing) on health insurance, rather than jobs.

We haven't seen any regulation of the financial and real estate communities that have cost us many jobs. Actually, it seems that the financial community has been rewarded for the horrible job that it did on America.

Yep, at the age of 73, I finally went last week and signed up for food stamps. I'm like the guy in this article - I didn't like the personal stigma, but I do like to eat. I don't patronize any company that outsources jobs, and as of now I'll no longer use Yahoo. What else can I do? One other thing: I'll never again vote for any of the existing politicians who are doing well, while the nation suffers.

Dan Maher

Southeast Portland