Most people think of Red Cross blood drives or serving Thanksgiving dinner at a mission when your question arises (What can you do for your country?, Nov. 27). But there is a career field that this country seriously needs good people for.
Mr. Obama and many others have been calling for developing better programs in early childhood development education. This country is the only industrialized country in the world without an early childhood policy. Oregon's top law enforcement officials have asked for better early childhood programs as a means of reducing the potential for crime.
Sure, preschool teaching jobs are usually paid. But it is the lowest paying profession in the U.S. that hopes for some college background.
There is also a terrific need for male teachers, since the teaching work force is overwhelmingly female. The families of teachers subsidize child care because wages are so low. Turnover is very high.
A combination of low wages, low social respect and poor working conditions (church basements and converted storerooms) leads to a disruptive atmosphere for children.
Few four-year colleges offer early childhood or child development. In Oregon, Portland State University is the lead school with only a small program, but it is mainly for training college faculty and government researchers. Community colleges are the main source of training and most preschool teachers don't go beyond a couple of introductory classes.
Simply put, we need good, well-educated people to work with our young children. Teachers do not have to be young, working-class women. We also need men and mature people.
What can you do for your country? Work with young children. The rewards will exceed your paycheck.
Help country by standing up for rights
I can help my country by standing up to the folks who want to dilute or take away constitutional rights, I can stand up to the folks who want to give special rights to certain segments and I can stand up to the local politicians by just saying no and enough is enough (What can you do for your country?, Nov. 27). As to Obama being president, he has some big shoes to fill. I wish him well and hope and pray he doesn't do a Jimmy Carter on us.
Obama can't be expected to do it all
With due respect and with appreciation for the fact that I may not understand the perspective from which she is coming, I was surprised by the sentiments Ms. McMurtry shared regarding President-elect Obama and his call for collective responsibility (What can you do for your country?, Nov. 27).
In an age when our community, society and planet, and the individuals that populate them, are in desperate need of better care, it was quite disheartening to hear a business person seemingly disregard the importance of our collective effort in this regard; indeed, such perspective from the business community has contributed to the very mess we're in.
Perhaps most surprising was the negative comparison of Mr. Obama to Jesus (i.e. 'His name is Obama, not Jesus') as explanation for her stance. My understanding of Judeo-Christian teachings is that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers. Thus, knowing our next president can't walk on water or perform miracles, I think a lot of us are embracing the notion that the opportunity for improvement of our nation and our world lies at least partially within each of us.
Kristine A. Munholland
If Novick wants to pay more, let him
Steve Novick, obviously educated in a socialist school system and consumed by a change movement fueled by the media, wants to pay more taxes (What can you do for your country?, Nov. 27). He even says he hopes Obama will ask him to pay more. Why wait? Send your money today. I doubt Obama will send you change.
Before expanding, take a look at costs
Does Metro think that pavement and pipes will be cheaper 20 years from now (Businesses blast growth study, Nov. 20)?
Of course it is generally cheaper to make existing areas more dense. What the study does not discuss is whether the existing pavement and pipes in these areas can handle the additional density and what costs may be required to upgrade those systems.
Metro made the decision to expand the urban growth boundary and bring rural areas, such as Damascus, into it. I find it grossly negligent to now suggest that it's too expensive to develop infrastructure in those areas. It was too expensive back in 2002, and yet that did not stop the expansion.
I find it comical that a study was required to identify what even us lay people already knew. That being said, I don't think Metro should hide behind it and turn its back on Damascus, Gresham or any other greenfield areas.
I think it was Winston Churchill who said, 'We are out of money, now we have to plan.' Let's plan regionally, instead of just pumping money into the city of Portland. Especially when we really do not have a true understanding of what the costs will be.
Agreement needed on density
There is an apparent disconnect between what Metro and Portland's elected officials believe to be the appropriate density for Portland and what the city's neighborhood associations and existing residents believe it to be (Businesses blast growth study, Nov. 20).
As a developer who has gone up against the associations many times in the quest to increase density to the level wanted or mandated by the city, I can state with absolute certainty that there will be terrible fights over this issue when the economy recovers and we again need land for housing. The neighborhoods for the most part do not want additional density and, unless we remove our land-use public process laws from the equation, they will fight very hard to ensure that it does not happen.
In the event this occurs, we will have the worst outcome possible: no land at the fringe to develop and no way to develop more densely in the urban core. No affordable housing will be built, and eventually we'll have no jobs because folks will not come here to work if there are no affordable places to live.
Good infrastructure must come first
It actually makes sense to do something right the first time (Businesses blast growth study, Nov. 20).
Take, for example, a six-lane road - standard in most suburban areas, but rare in the Portland area. The cost of building it on rural, undeveloped land is cheap. You only need to pay for the materials, engineering and the cost of rural land.
Now, try building that same road through an already developed and established neighborhood; you must spend three years planning for the road, holding numerous meetings, purchasing properties at urban market values, tearing up or moving existing homes, and risking public outcry that could cancel the project. Meanwhile, traffic comes to a standstill.
The Metro model favors waiting until it's too late to build infrastructure; look at any newer suburban area and you will find main roads that are two to three lanes wide, heavy traffic, and housing and businesses built right up to the sidewalk.
It would be cheaper to fire all the planners and hire engineers.