In Response to, "Shining Bright—Solar Power in Bend," (1/19)
It's only been five years since I moved to Bend from the Midwest, so I haven't been witness to the extreme changes that have occurred in this area over the last thirty years. You don't have to be a life-long resident to understand the nervousness over property values that Ron Rupprecht is experiencing, or have an opinion about land use laws, so I understand his side of the issue. But that being said, I hold out hope that as a society we can start to see technological advancements such as solar and wind power as aesthetically pleasing because we know what it represents: a sustainable world for future generations. Not in my backyard attitudes have created a society that ignores poverty in Appalachian coal mining communities and ecologically dangerous crude oil trains and gas pipelines to supply our way of life with fossil fuels. Is that not ugly? Historically, opinions about who and what is attractive has changed over the centuries, closely mirroring what represents wealth. I envision a future where wind farms in the ocean and small homes roofed with solar panels are sexy. Maybe if Ron installs some solar gear on his non-arable farm land, he'll see the beauty in it all once his electric bill falls to zero or even ends up in the green. On a related note, this can serve as a great reminder that there's no better time than the present to support new wilderness designations and legislation for national monuments. There's plenty of land for both uses if we are wise and unselfish.
In Response to, "Extraordinary Women, Ancient Life in Oregon and More," (12/29)
Twelve months ago, with the help of a founding board, Kim Brannock and I started the nonprofit Coalition for the Deschutes. Recently, the Source kindly recognized the work that Kim and I have done this past year. We would like to extend this recognition to all who have worked tirelessly, some for decades, to restore the Deschutes River.
These people work for nonprofits, for agencies and in the private sector. And they are the countless individuals like Kim and me who are simply in love with the river and are dedicated to restoring it to a healthy condition. We are confident that we can accomplish this in conjunction with irrigation modernization and in support of the farmers who make their livelihoods in Central Oregon.
—Gail Snyder and Kim Brannock
Coalition for the Deschutes Co-founders
The Highland School Gym Collapse
The January 12th gymnasium collapse at Highland Magnet School should be a wake- up call for our Bend community. It is time to make a significant investment in our schools and our children.
We're lucky here in Bend. There are a variety of ways to give. The Bend Education Foundation is a great place to start. According to their site, they have invested more than $1,000,000 into Bend-La Pine schools over the last decade through classroom grants, activity fee scholarships and special projects. Teachers across the district have projects up right now on the crowdfunding site donorschoose.org. Go to the site. Find a project. Be a hero to these students!
But don't stop there. We all can and should do more for our kids. Oregon schools face $7.6 billion in deferred maintenance according to a report released in August. Here in Bend, we can fix some of these problems by passing the bond in May. But it won't be enough.
Now is the time for business leaders in particular to step up in a meaningful way. We have experienced prosperity in Bend. Now it's time to invest to ensure that prosperity continues. Email a teacher. Go to a School Board meeting. Run for School Board. Join the PTA. Ask educators what you can do that will make game-changing investments in our kids. Our young people are entering an uncertain world filled with complexities and challenges, and they're going to need all the help they can get.
Dying For a Living Wage
I have heard a lot of chatter about a lot of things during this last election cycle. Among the long list of gripes is the apparent fact that many folks are receiving hand outs through federal programs that are publicly funded. Many consider that the taxes they pay are being wasted on nere-do-well druggies, bums, and other assorted low life characters. And sadly, there are enough of those kinds of folks that it seems entirely true. It's not though.
Consider this: many of the recipients are single working moms, special needs families, and low income working couples with and without children. It's worth noting that if women, (and maybe someday, men) were receiving free birth control along with their food stamps we could at last begin to thin the ranks of welfare people. It's not a cure, but it's a start, and it's pennies spent to save dollars.
Another thing is that a lot of folks on the dole are actually working. They're just not making enough money to get by. If they were, they wouldn't need publicly funded help. If people are able to take care of themselves, then the taxpayers don't have to. It's not a cure, but it's a good start. There are a lot of businesses out there that do not offer a living wage. A big portion of their profit margin comes from the fact that their labor costs are so low. In reality, this means that tax payers are indirectly subsidizing all those businesses by offering partial support to their workers because their employers simply refuse to. If everyone who worked and put in an honest day's labor was paid an honest day's wage, they wouldn't be on welfare in the first place.
Now, it's perfectly possible to slam the door on all those folks by simply defunding the support programs that offer at least partial support to those who under earn, but it's more expensive in the long run. That's because the more disenfranchised folks you have, the more folks we have in our society who believe they don't have a future, the more unstable it becomes—susceptible to crime, discord and even insurrection. That is the edge upon which we now totter.
It's a bad beginning to the rest of our future. And it doesn't have to be that way, it's possible for everyone to have enough.
Let's talk about the nere-do-well folks. Many have seen them get free medical and dental help, low cost housing and other aid and naturally, many resent that. But why? Is it perhaps because we also have many needs, yet the help is unavailable to us? Maybe we should not resent so much that someone else got help, but that we can't receive similar aid when we need it? Think about that. Is it an ethical and moral practice to provide healthcare as a market commodity? Right now, the working class folks are fighting over crumbs from the table. That's absurd and criminal. We built the damn table, where's our seat at it?
The American people have been taking a fleecing for a dog long time now, and from the looks of it, the same fine folks who brought that, are now rubbing their hands together in anticipation of way more of the same in just a few day's time. Think about that. They are not coming to your rescue. They are coming to loot. Wait and see.
LETTER OF THE WEEK
David: Keep fighting the noble fight, even if the only recognition you ever get for it is this $5 gift card from Palate.
—Nicole Vulcan, Editor