Translations give immigrants a voice

IRCO (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization) would like to respond to Phil Stanford's comments implying criticism of the city for printing 'Vision Quest' materials in non-English languages (On the Town, June 27).

The whole point of VisionPDX is to plan for the next couple of decades - by which time Portland's current refugee and immigrant citizens will be speaking English quite well.

IRCO was selected by the city for the specific purpose of bringing new refugee and immigrant populations into the dream. These people are new to Portland now, but their children (who will be native English speakers) will grow up in the Portland that results from today's VisionPDX planning.

Although many people from these communities are generally wary of 'establishment' contact, IRCO was able to get 100 of them to its VisionPDX kickoff meeting June 22. When a former Ukrainian man had the courage to speak his thoughts at the event, it sparked willingness in people from Somalia, Cuba and other repressive places to also share their thoughts - through our interpreters.

Afterward, the Ukrainian-speaking gentleman said, 'I just wanted them to know how happy I am to be here, what I like about Portland. We have so much freedom here - to go to church, we have homes, we can come to such meetings and tell how we feel. Thank you, thank you.'

IRCO is proud to give such people a voice in community decision making and applauds the city for including them.

Rowanne L. Haley

IRCO Community Relations

Northeast Portland

Who should spend the money you earn?

Letter writer Paul Schuberg says, 'The money left on the table in this great state because we refuse to enact a sales tax is inexcusable' (It's time to embrace a sales tax, June 30). That makes sense only if you believe that all money properly belongs to the state.

If you believe that money belongs to those who earn it, then it is not left on the table at all. It is left in the hands of its rightful owners, who can then use it to buy the things they find most valuable.

When two people conduct a voluntary economic transaction, both parties win.

When the state takes money through a sales tax or any other tax, that money is no longer available to the person who earned it. Sure, the state will spend that money on something, but it is not a win-win situation in the way that a voluntary economic transaction is.

Instead, the person who earned the money is now that much poorer, and must trust the state to use the money more wisely than they would have.

Who knows best what you should spend your money on, you or the state?

Who is the rightful owner of the money you earn, you or the state?

Michael Geary

San Jose, Calif.

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