Letters: System is rigged against average citizens
Thank you for publishing Tom Shillock's letter (Dec. 19 Tribune). His last paragraph eloquently sums up how the deck of cards is stacked against the average hard-working American.
The book "The Rigged Game" describes how designed mechanisms for the past 30-plus years have ruined the pursuit of the American Dream that so many citizens strive to achieve.
Through highly efficient and systematic methods of transferring wealth, it's inevitable the middle class will become extinct in our lifetime, sending even more people into poverty.
Question is: When will the masses finally reach the point and say, "Enough is enough!" and vote in progressive candidates?
Our traffic dilemma
Regarding "To toll or not to toll?" (Business Tribune, Dec. 19): First, traffic congestion arises when it is slower than we expect and is unambiguously congested when the quantity of vehicles on a road brings traffic to a crawl or a stop.
Second, traffic congestion is as much a measure of our frustration and how we use time as it is an economic impediment. Listening to talking books while in traffic jams would reduce our frustration. If we learn something, our productivity might improve.
Third, every driver contributes to congestion. Freeway congestion spreads to other roads we hope will be less frustrating, if not faster. Rose Quarter I-5 tolls would redistribute congestion, raising aggregate congestion on lower-capacity roads. Each additional signal or stop sign on a road slows traffic more than linearly.
Fourth, congestion pricing would not impose higher final costs on large trucks that destroy roads. The final costs of road tolls would be transferred to consumers of the transported goods just as they are today with the increased costs imposed by congestion.
Fifth, building more road capacity in urban areas raises congestion during construction, reduces it for a few years after completion at best. Eventually congestion returns. Three relevant facts: a) urban populations increase, b) motor vehicles are built faster and cheaper than road capacity to carry them, c) our road-based transportation system is nearing the limits of physical and economic scalability.
Sixth, even if trucks "carry nearly 75 percent of all freight in the Portland metro area," 75 percent of that freight is not carried via I-5 Rose Quarter. The statistic that in 2015 "one of every 17 Oregonians was employed by the trucking industry ..." is provisional until we know who is being counted and how they are being counted.
Seventh, why not repair the roads we have, including I-5, before building extra roads?
Puerto Rico conditions still a disaster
A relative of mine recently returned from a humanitarian mission in Puerto Rico.
The conditions there are truly disturbing and not getting any better.
There are still areas where electricity and water are unavailable and jobs discontinued as there are no utilities to conduct business. The anxiety and depression rates are off the charts and heading up as the people are frustrated in their attempts to improve conditions.
Many of the NGOs who headed over there three months ago have left even as the mental and emotional stress has continued to increase. It is a disastrous situation getting worse.
Congress should do what
is needed to get aid to these people.