Opinion » The Mailbox

Letters 3/15-3/22

Readers heavily respond to the Gas Tax and Roads Editorial

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Contributions of the Poor

I appreciate and honor the poor among us because they walk, cycle and use public transportation, contributing very little to the carbon emissions polluting our air. They use very little water and do nothing to pollute our water resources with exploitative resource extraction and indiscriminate waste disposal. They do not destroy the earth with chemicals, fertilizers and infinite miles of concrete and asphalt. Affordable housing is rarely affordable but Mother Earth offers acceptable accommodation for tents. There is no need for mega houses and buildings to display greed and status

The un-privileged contribute very little to the war machine, bankster bailouts, corporate subsidies and other capitalist "rob the poor to enrich the rich" schemes. The bottom 1 percent and the top 1 percent share the common ground of paying minimum, if any, taxes. The capitalist mantra of PROFIT OVER PEOPLE based on insatiable greed is not a factor for the economically challenged. Most of their possessions extend to what they can carry on their backs. Shopping locally is imperative and they are committed to reuse and recycle. A consumer driven lifestyle is not a priority.

The criminal justice system is often their primary interaction with government services. Police target activities such as drug and alcohol use in public whereas the affluent and privileged can indulge in similar activities in the security of their homes. The poor have little reason to believe police will protect and serve them. They take care of each other and many have dogs to protect them and their meager belongings.

Our poor neighbors provide those of us who are privileged an opportunity to appreciate our common humanity recognizing that the only significant difference between people is disparity in income. Community volunteers who interact and support the poor demonstrate to all of us that caring, sharing and tolerance are values that supersede greed, status, bigotry, hatred and racism. The poor remind us that everyone is entitled to dignity and respect.

I praise you for your contributions to our community.

— Sue Bastian, Privileged White Person

Bicycles Don't Belong in Wilderness Areas Unless You Want Them Destroyed

Bicycle enthusiasts claim wilderness managers get "hip," and adapt to a generational shift in how young people recreate. Yet, if the law must change to meet new demands (no matter the Wilderness Act intended to secure these lands as wild for FUTURE generations) then why not allow runners in their spandex, polyester mesh, brightly colored outfits pushing fully accessorized baby joggers? They, like bicycles are non-motorized. What about tricked-out non-motorized go-carts?

Won't happen? Think again. On March 2, HR-1349 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill allows bicycles, strollers, wheelbarrows, survey wheels, measuring wheels, game carts as well as motorized and non-motorized wheelchairs in any wilderness. Lest you forget, in 2016 Senate Bill 3205, The Human Powered Travel in Wilderness Act was introduced.

Once modified, additional outdoor recreation enthusiasts will demand equal access to wilderness. Consider geocaching, once allowed in our Badlands Wilderness. Geocaching draws fewer enthusiasts and causes less environmental damage than bicycles.

Finally, consider another eventual demand; commercial Pole Pedal Paddle-type races in wilderness. Won't happen? The 1964 Wilderness Act Section 4 (d) (6) "Allows commercial services within wilderness areas...to the extent necessary for activities which are proper for realizing the recreational or other wilderness purpose of the area." Hikers/Backpackers, imagine stepping aside for hundreds of bicycle endurance racers on wilderness trails.

This month the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests want to know how you want them to manage your wilderness areas.

— Gladys I. Biglor

In Response to, Gas, Cars and Roads (3/16)

Your opinion column published March 16 was off to a good start..."Roads are one of those core government services that are a great reflection of a community" then, you lose traction and make a left (yes, that left) turn.

The cure to Bend's road ills resides squarely amidst the process of establishing budget priorities and wrapping our collective heads around realities such as what negatively impacts the life of our roads. Weather shouldn't be much of a surprise nor population influx or studded tires.

Bend began building an infrastructure for a population of 250,000 in the late 90s and it backfired in 2008. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be a lesson brought forth in the memories of the committees doing Bend's planning and budgeting. Where are we spending tax dollars that are not necessary for the city to function? We built, they came, now we're in trouble.

Bend continues to create revenue generators such as parking fees and the resultant ticketing / fines (paying an outside contractor to police parking meters and to issue parking violations for a fee), TRT's, rental home permitting — ad nauseam. Eventually this could be a recipe for the demise of Bend's primary source of income/livelihood — tourism. Nirvana for many, but realistically, we know it's not in the cards, ergo - time to get grounded and to plan/budget (including contingencies) accordingly.

We're already taxed into oblivion – another gas tax (it should be taken for granted that it'll NEVER go away) is a BAD idea, and if left to the voting populace to decide, will be reaffirmed.

Tax and spend is not a panacea in this case. Bend has no reason to mimic the Fed.

— Bill McMillan

If the only route to solve our problem was through increased revenue, a gas tax would make more sense than taxes that only hit the locals. We have developed a revenue stream from residents, in order to support tourism. Tourism should pay its own way. So when the time comes to increase revenue this option should be explored.On the other hand, we do need to look at the issue of government waste. Frequently those opposed to any tax increases cry about waste, without providing intelligent examples. However, the city has repeatedly given us ammunition to question the judgement of government waste. There is a funnel of money that the city dishes out, paying too much for property. The cynical part of me wonders, how much graft is going on with our tax money in Bend. Our sheriff's office has a long history of corruption, so why wouldn't we have that taking place at the city level as well? Maybe an outside audit is in order.

— Randy McBride, via facebook.com

Most of the people I talk to who are for the gas tax are not from Oregon. Oregonians have a long history of denying our government sales and other hidden taxes. Is our tax system perfect and fair? Absolutely not. I drive probably twice the miles of an average Bendite because of my business. However, I assume, I do half the damage to the roads because I do not use studded tires. Should we tax people who use studded tires so they pay their fair share of road damage? The real problem is government spending. Bend's revenues are up significantly and yet there has been little increase in road funding. Just look at our city's epic failure with snow removal this winter. I'm sure the city will gladly take donations for road repairs. Let's start a collection fund jar in local businesses? In the meantime, keep your hands out of my pockets. I work everyday. I earned it.

— Joshua Pearson, via facebook.com

My 2¢ on the gas tax — I'm a mechanic. I run a shop in town. I can honestly say that if the gas tax was implemented and used to fix our roads most of you would save more money on repairs than five freaking cents a gallon (that's about 75¢ a fill up if you drive a gas-guzzling SUV). If you fill up twice a week every week of the year that's $78. That's less than one hour of labor at your average repair shop. Blown tie rods and ball joints will cost you hundreds of dollars a year. Not to mention tire wear from messed up alignments. So when you all open your mouths to complain about "another tax holding you down" maybe actually think for a second instead of denouncing every tax as bad and think about the end result.

— Shawn Sweetman, via facebook.com

LETTER OF THE WEEK

Shawn – Best argument I've seen in favor of the gas tax—and the tie between the life of your vehicle and poor road quality—that I've seen yet. Thanks for that, and for not losing your cool on that thread, as some others did...have a cup of coffee on us.

— Nicole Vulcan, Editor


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