Political system must find a home for compassion

Another Voice

By SCOT BERGERON

Special to the News

Did you see him? He was near the on-ramp down by the Hood River Bridge. He was in a wheelchair. His right leg was gone just below the knee. He was holding a sign for passing cars to see. It read “Homeless Vet.”

I have not been able to get the vision out of my mind. I thought that it would go away, fade, get buried in the busyness of my life, but it hasn’t. Therefore, I’ve surrendered to that part of me that won’t let the image fade and it is that part of me that you’re listening to now. We all have that part of ourselves, the part that knows when something is wrong. We, myself included, usually look the other way, ignore it, and bury it under the busyness of our lives. We carry on assuming that someone is working on the problem, so I don’t have to deal with this now. Besides, I can barely support myself let alone a homeless person. Am I alone, or do you say these things to yourself too?

I just can’t understand why a country as rich and powerful as the United States should have ANY homeless people, let alone a veteran who lost his leg fighting in our army. There have been people sleeping under the Burnside Bridge in Portland for as long as I can remember. I moved here in 1989. This is not acceptable! Not only is it not acceptable, but also it’s crazy! We are superior creatures; we’re smart, imaginative, and enormously capable! We can do so much better than this. Can’t we? Don’t we have the capability to take care of our people?

Then why aren’t we doing it? I have a theory as to why there are so many “things” wrong. I am thinking lately that OUR government doesn’t exist. Oh yes, there is A government, but observation shows me that it’s not OUR government. I believe now that there is a level in politics, probably somewhere around the federal Representative/Senator level, or perhaps lower, where it becomes so expensive to run a campaign that politicians must start to operate in the interests of those entities that fund their campaigns rather than operate in the interests of the People.

I also believe that there ARE very good people ready to work in our political system to make things like homelessness a thing of the past, but they never get placed before us to be voted upon because working in the best interests of the people won’t get them the money they need to buy 30-second spots on television. Television and radio campaigns cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Only through large special interest donations can funds like those be raised. At that point, a politician begins working for the interests of the sponsors and not for us. There is no money to be made by providing homes for the homeless.

The original “constitutional” government and willing participants are out there, waiting to be brought forth, but until there is free airtime for all candidates, we’ll never see them. We’ll only see on television and hear on radio those candidates who will do the bidding of the interests that fund them. We might have to look a little deeper than major networks and newspapers to find the candidates who would represent the people. In the 2000 election, many people didn’t even know there were more than two candidates for president.

Pay close attention to who gets “commercials” for 2004; they’ll be all bought and paid for.

*****

Scot Bergeron lives in Cook, Wash.

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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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