Letters: Policy tweaks won't make Oregon rich
Regarding "Policy reforms would improve state for all" (Eric Fruits, My View, Dec. 14): Would Fruits' "straightforward policy reforms ... move Oregon from being a poor state to being a rich state"? Would his policy recommendations make Oregon's economy match or exceed Washington's economy, to which he compares it?
While there is plenty of room for policy improvements in Oregon's metastasized, corrupt and incompetent governments, policy tweaks won't make Oregon rich.
Oregon's economic situation is more a matter of geography, geology, climate, demography, historical coincidence, national economics and policies and the dynamics of globalization.
Growth is not necessarily an unalloyed good. Industries and firms that grow by transferring some of their costs of doing business to society are effectively subsidized.
For example, mining and manufacturing industries have historically transferred their wastes to society in the form of environmental pollution. Large banks have transferred the costs of their fraud to society in the form of bailouts (too big to let fail).
Some firms impose social costs by extorting large tax breaks to remain or locate in a state or city.
Growth via population increase imposes social costs in the form of more social services: basic services (water, sewer, electricity), transportation, schools, health care, recreation. Some, like road systems, cannot be scaled up indefinitely, and the larger they become, the lower the economic returns to scale.
Economic growth without population growth would have lower social costs, including lower quality of life. Raising the median income would increase demand and growth without increasing population-based social costs.
We need equitable growth, not trickle-down growth. The latter has been gaining ground for four decades, which is one reason middle-class wages have effectively stagnated.
Today's Republican tax legislation is trickle-down economic growth in hyperdrive. It imposes far-larger social costs to growth by reducing opportunity and economic equity for the vast majority of Americans, in order to make the rich richer. Since the American economy is 70 percent based on consumer spending, this will impede growth.
Resist assault on public lands
Shrinking the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument — established in 2000 and expanded before President Barack Obama left office — constitutes civic robbery, i.e., the taking of public lands against our will.
In the largest elimination of public lands protections in U.S. history, President Donald Trump reduced two national monuments in Utah by more than 2 million acres. Now, lands that were once the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments will be opened up for oil, coal and uranium extraction.
Unfortunately, the president doesn't plan to stop there. His administration is preparing to rescind protections for Oregon's beloved Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, opening up thousands of acres of protected public land to aggressive logging.
Recognized internationally as a "global biodiversity hotspot," the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is a place where animals, fish and plants from the Cascade Range and high deserts of the Great Basin commingle with species from the Klamath and Siskiyou mountain ranges.
Timber industry lobby groups argue that the area should not be managed for biodiversity and recreation, but rather for logging. These lands have been given national monument protection to preserve them for future generations. Collectively, we must stand up to the corporate extractive interests threatening America's conservation legacy.
I call upon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, as well as Gov. Kate Brown, to continue defending the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and other threatened public lands. Please add your voice to the chorus.
Less idling means cleaner air
Clean air seems to be in the news lately. One way to help keep our air clean in the region is if drivers would not idle their vehicles while parked.
Common idling habits are: waiting for children at their school, warming up a vehicle on cold mornings (a vehicle warms up faster if it is driven a short distance), waiting in a drive-through, using phones while parked.
Drivers unnecessarily idle their vehicles because of lack of knowledge, learned behavior, habit or laziness. Normal everyday driving adds enough pollution to our air. Why are we adding more with our unnecessary idling?
Idling for 10 seconds uses more fuel than starting, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. The Environmental Media Association says that for every two minutes of idling you could drive 1 mile on the same fuel.
It is better for your engine to restart it than to let it idle. Idling for 10 minutes per day equals 60 hours per year. You could drive 1,500 miles or save $180 on the fuel wasted, according to AAA.
I realize that one vehicle doesn't make that much difference. However, thousands of vehicles regionwide can make a huge difference. Just because your vehicle is parked and idling, doesn't mean it's not affecting our air quality.
For more information, check out idle-free websites (iturnitoff.com). If you believe there is climate change and want to help with clean air, turn your key, be idle-free.
Is the Portland Tribune trying to emulate CNN? A recent headline:
"Governor: Tax, cost-containment proposals are forthcoming" should read: "Governor raises taxes to pay for public employee pensions, including her own."