Letters - September 18

Buy local food

The American farmer. A person who tries to grow the best food in the world. While all the time being regulated, inspected, and harassed by the very government that wouldn’t be possible without the food and goods we provide.

I hear of CEOs getting paid these enormous salaries, and I watch as farmer after farmer is pushed out of business.

People, think about it; if we didn’t have the abundance of food we have, our entire way of life would not exist.

The average person on the streets of our big cities probably hasn’t the time to worry about where their food comes from. They don’t care. Just keep it coming and make sure it is safe and cheap. But let that food disappear, and then, when it is too late, they will realize, and they will care.

A farm doesn’t appear overnight; it’s not something that you can open in a week or a month. It’s usually several lifetimes in the making. A scholar may look at a farmer and think of that person below himself. Think again, there is a good possibility that farmer is also a scholar, and even if he doesn’t have a degree, his knowledge of the land and of finance would probably put most people to shame.

Our great country seems hell-bent to put anyone remotely independent out of business. I watched as fanatics stopped a timber industry, and put family after family in the poor house. And every day I hear new restrictions that are being applied to our fisheries.

Save the world, but leave a place for humans to exist. Make what we do better, but don’t make it impossible.

Make it impossible for us to make a living. Then you can take all our wheat fields, orchards, crop lands. If people find themselves unable to feed their families, and no money for the basics of life, they will have to give up their land. And when they do what will take their place, homes? Non-productive abandoned fields?

Just keep ignoring what is happening to your neighbors, the people who watch out for the very land that your life depends on. The land that produces the best and the most food in the world. Someday when your child or grandchild goes hungry, and the United States is no longer the world power it is, remember it wasn’t because we didn’t want to farm, it wasn’t because we were lazy, it was because of you. And because a great nation didn’t try to preserve the very people who made our way of life possible.

Buy United States-grown food. A dime more today for better produce is a dime well spent. Show some respect for what we do, get involved, tell the people who are not supportive what harm they are doing.

Our government must stop harassing the farmer. Without their support none of us will have the quality of food, or the security that we now enjoy.

Sue Faulkender

Hood River

Wal-Mart ‘a mecca’

Regarding the Wal-Mart expansion: It would be difficult to invent a realistic issue to prevent Wal-Mart’s expansion. No doubt, the anti-everything groups have done so. Since we humans are not going to “just go away” to please those groups, there is no reason to put up with the “anti’s.” Wal-Mart is a mecca for the economically deprived, or “poor folk” as I would prefer to call us. As we get older — and usually poorer — being able to get our shopping done in one place for less money is a blessing. Klickitat County shoppers really look forward to the few chances that we have to shop there now. Being able to save on food prices is becoming more and more difficult as food product costs are rising with no end in sight. Buying a good-sized freezer and making the Hood River trip would now be worth the time and cost of driving the extra distance. Surely, Hood River would benefit from our shopping excursions?

Barbara Knowles

Goldendale, Wash.

A savings plan

I went shopping for a 12 inch, slim-line, cool white, fluorescent bulb a couple of days ago. My first stop was at Rite Aid, price $9.99. My second stop was at Wal-Mart, price $5.97. My third (and last stop) was at Franz Hardware, price $4.95. Now, all you savings hungry shoppers — where would you have gone for this item?

Marc Cohn

Hood River

‘Slap in the face’

I find it ironic that at the same time that the U.S. is recognizing the sacrifices of their public servants, Oregon is attempting to remove many benefits from those same servants. The timing of the present plan to remove the retirement system of public employees is like a “slap in the face.”

I will bet that any proposed change in the PERS system will exempt the Legislators who proposed and voted on these changes. I think that in most cases the people that we vote for tend to look out for themselves. I would like to see stats indicating which Legislators would be affected and if any would be affected negatively.

We need to reduce the compensation of all public employees, cut out retirement benefits, reduce health and other benefits, and see if anyone wants to work in this sector. It might surprise us. I am sure that we will be overwhelmed by volunteers who have retired from the private sector and want something to do.

Leonard Hickman

Hood River

Move store hearing

There is a Hood River Planning Commission meeting scheduled to be held at the Hood River County Courthouse on September 25 at 6:30 p.m. Its purpose is to take public input on the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter. Once again the Planning Commission has not done their homework. I’m guessing that between one and two hundred people will want to attend. The courthouse meeting room will not accommodate this many people.

There will be confusion and anger as people are forced to stand in the entrance and outside in the corridor. Many people will walk away discouraged and disgusted. It’s a scene that gets repeated at every important meeting held in Hood River County. I wonder if the Planning Commission does this intentionally or by lack of foresight. Both ways are not acceptable and I urge the Commission to pick a larger venue for the meeting. I would suggest the Middle School auditorium.

Laird Davis

Hood River

All birthdays happy

I live in Cascade Locks and used to work at the Hood River News, so read the paper regularly. I feel very emotional about the Sept. 11 article you wrote, on 9/11 birthday kids. Today is my daughter’s birthday. She turned 5. Your article quotes one person saying, “It’s going to be kind of an odd thing because whenever anyone says ‘Happy Birthday’ it’s not a happy day. It’s a really sad day.” This person needs a big hug because this is not true. It is a happy day: a very happy day — he was born and made his parents and relatives very happy. It does not matter what else happened on his birthday that is “bad” it is still a beautiful act of God when a birth ... day happens.

My daughter’s name is Chiara Maria Farrell and we celebrated her birthday on Sept. 11, when it should be celebrated.

Tammy Farrell

Cascade Locks

‘Shrill critics’

I grew up in the Hood River Valley and have lived in New York City for the past two years. On Sept. 11th, 2001, I was two blocks from the World Trade Center on my morning commute to work when the twin towers exploded in fire and death. The horror of that day will be with me until the day I die. As a result, I must speak out having read of recent “peace” events and anti-war letters in the News.

I was a Valley resident from 1989-1995 and a graduate of Hood River Valley High School. I know there are many people in Hood River who support the ideals of freedom and prosperity America stands for and are willing to fight for them. Yet the opinions that are in the Hood River News week after week are those of activists and ideologues who would rather the world be safe for murderous dictators and terrorists like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, rather than their friends and neighbors.

It seems that some people believe even when America is attacked and thousands of innocent people are cut down in an instant, we are wrong to take action to protect ourselves. They appeal to the fear of failure, and claim a war in Iraq would end in misery and bloody defeat. That also happens to be what they said about Afghanistan.

The Hood River News is read by most county residents and is visible at many local events. Many former Valley residents still read the News and have family and friends there. Why is it that only a brave young sailor writing from overseas is the only voice in the community standing up for the struggle that we find ourselves in today?

I am for the first time ashamed of the place I in which I was raised, where it seems that patriots are silent and shrill criticism and guilt-mongering rules the day. Say it isn’t so. Please prove me wrong, Hood River.

Cameron Conger

New York, NY

Wal-Mart, ‘as is’

I occasionally shop in the Hood River Wal-Mart and I do not find it to be a bad place at all. There is a feeling of warmth and community there. I know that many people in our area rely heavily on the savings that Wal-Mart offers and in this Wal-Mart serves the community.

With this in mind please consider a recent experience:

A year ago I visited a Super Wal-Mart outside of Savannah, Ga. The experience of visiting that store was very different than shopping in the Hood River store. Once I was inside the super center I was overwhelmed by the size of the space. The experience was more like walking into an expanded Home Depot store than the existing Wal-Mart. It was difficult to even see the other side of the store let alone walk there. The feeling of the place was depressing and alienating; endless racks of endless choices, few employees, acres of asphalt out front.

With a store that size there is no such thing as running in quickly to grab some needed item. The distances are just too big.

It is the gift of our times to have absolutely everything we want presented to us for sale. Every color of every item in every size; but is the promise of unrestrained consumerism worth its cost to our souls, community and world?

I left the Savannah Super Wal-Mart with the items that I had come for but I also left with a sick feeling that what I had just experienced was the future of shopping.

Please help to keep Wal-Mart in our community, just the way it is.

John Mayo

White Salmon

Question U.S. policy

I read with great interest the letter from Erik S. Parks in Wednesday’s paper. He reminded me of the pride I felt as a child singing the Star Spangled Banner. How I’d love to still feel that way today. My disillusionment as an adult has been painful, as if discovering that the father I love and admire is committing terrible crimes. Some who read Erik’s letter will note that he fails to question why the people of the Middle East are so antagonistic toward him and his fellow soldiers. It’s hard to ask this question because we love our country and want to believe in its ideals.

I think that most people in America earnestly believe that we are a benevolent country. The picture of the U.S. as a force for good in the world is so strongly ingrained that it’s very difficult to challenge. Yet the sad and painful truth is that we are hurting and exploiting the peoples of the world much more than we are helping them. If you love this country I implore you to find out the truth for yourself. You can begin by reading these words of George Kennan, who in 1948 as head of the State Department’s planning staff following World War II was a chief architect of U.S. foreign policy.

“We have about 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so we have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.”

Loving your father means summoning the courage to confront him when he’s doing wrong. To this day, our foreign policy has followed Kennan’s directive. If you are disturbed by his greedy and mean-spirited words, perhaps you’ll be willing to explore further to uncover the facts about what we are really up to in the world. I recommend reading “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn and “Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II” by William Blum.

Paul Woolery

White Salmon

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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