Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Don't miss 'Avalon'
Broadway, Beware! You have some amazingly great competition from little ol' Hood River!
Some friends and I saw the opening show for "Avalon: A?Steampunk Musical Romance" written and directed by Mark Steighner. We kept nudging each other, asking "Are these professionals on tour?" Wow, what a show!
Combining fabulously intricate costumes from the Victorian and Punk eras with simple but very clever sets, the show tells a love story similar to Tristan and Isolde - in the Industrial Age.
A full orchestra and huge cast deliver music and a story that are quite amusing, visually delightful and sound unbelievably excellent. We never wanted the music to end! We were stunned by the depth and complexity of the songs that these folks sang with such clarity, energy and dead-on tone.
The lead characters not only acted very convincingly, they sang huge ranges of notes as if singing was their first language. I want a CD of the show!
All this for only $8; $5 for kids - the best entertainment I've gotten at any price for quite a long time.
Don't let this show slip past you. It only plays through Nov. 19.
White Salmon, Wash.
Middle class suffers most
The nation is engrossed these days with the question of how to revive the American economy. The Occupy Wall Street movement is preoccupied with the question of how to redistribute income and wealth that is concentrated at the top of America.
The economist Robert Reich says the two questions are related. First, consider the growing income disparity between the rich and the rest of America. The Congressional Budget Office recently showed that between 1979 and 2007, income grew 275 percent for the top 1 percent of households in America but just 40 percent for those in the middle.
One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and ambition of top earners and to assume that a rising tide lifts all boats. But that is not what has happened.
Over the last decade, the top 1 percent have seen their incomes grow 18 percent while those in the middle have actually seen theirs drop. Three decades ago, American CEOs made 40 times as much as the average worker; now they make 200 times as much. All recent growth has gone to the wealthiest people in this country.
We like to think of ourselves as a middle-class society but we now rival many Third World countries in terms of income inequality.
President Obama's proposals to raise taxes on the rich have been roundly criticized by some. Tax the rich and they'll stop hiring and investing, the argument goes, and this will hurt everyone. However, during the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were much higher and the country created 40 million jobs between 1980 and 2000. Historically, there's just no correlation between tax rates on the wealthy and economic growth.
It's not high tax rates that are keeping businesses from hiring, expanding, and investing; it is low demand. Since most demand comes from consumers in this country, the majority of whom are middle class, it is the eroding middle class that is largely responsible for the current economic anemia.
Cutting government spending and services to revive the economy will hurt the lower and middle class further. Cuts in education, social services, Social Security and Medicare are felt most by those at the bottom and in the middle.
Certainly some cuts in spending are necessary and forthcoming but we have to balance that with tax increases. Those at the top can most afford these increases. Such an approach makes economic sense and is supported by most Americans.
I would like to make you aware of a public notice that has been posted in the Hood River News the last couple of weeks. It is a proposal for a cellphone tower placement on Fairview Drive.
The property owners of 3790 Fairview Drive plan for a 165-foot-tall cellphone tower on the north end of their property, near Rocky Road. This gigantic tower, which will be within the National Scenic Act boundaries, will dominate the view from "Fairview Drive," as well as from adjacent neighborhoods.
As you traverse Fairview Drive, the backdrop on Mount Adams and the Gorge will now contain an ugly, domineering centerpiece. Other neighbors will get to look at it from their back doors.
Being a visual disaster is not the only problem. Potential health effects of continuous EMF (electromagnetic frequencies) and radio waves are a serious concern which I personally do not want in my neighborhood.
Here is the website to see the public notice from the American Tower Corporation: http://www.publicnotice-ads.com/OR/search/view.asp?T=PN&id=114\1192011_17508054.HTM
At this point, if you have concerns about this cellphone tower please contact the American Tower Corporation by Nov. 21: Jenna Metznik, compliance director, 10 Presidential Way, Woburn, MA 01801; firstname.lastname@example.org
Join 'Occupy' discussion
Like the majority I am frustrated with the spectacle taking place in our capital. But I am puzzled by the reaction of many to the Occupy movement that has now arrived in the Gorge.
From some I hear that they don't understand what it stands for and others say they don't want to know anything about it but just want it to go away. But should it?
The minute our politicians are elected they begin looking at funding sources for the next election. The big money they need comes from corporations and there is no longer any question about who really controls this country.
For those who say the problem isn't here, it's in Washington: Do you really expect Washington to change? The pressure must come from the 99 percent who are currently disenfranchised and right now the Occupy movement may be the best opportunity to find our voice.
It is unconscionable that we live in a nation where so many must decide whether to cut back on necessary medications or skip meals. At the state level it seems incredible that Oregon frequently ranks at the top of states with the highest hunger rates.
And why is improving the economy always linked to increased consumption when this country already consumes a hugely disproportionate share of the world's resources? Don't we need to frame this discussion differently?
Every community in the Gorge should be having the kind of conversations that are taking place in Mosier. To those who want specific goals, remember that the many problems that have been foisted on us by home foreclosures, jobs going overseas, escalating health insurance costs - to name a few - are going to require major changes and can't be easily packaged and solved overnight. Democracy requires participation and it's messy.
It would be a mistake and a missed opportunity to dismiss Occupy the Gorge because of media coverage of Occupy movements in some cities. If we are to have any voice it requires conversations with others in our communities and right now Occupy the Gorge is providing that opportunity.
Invite them to your community and begin that conversation.
I traveled to Eugene to watch the high school girls cross country team in the state championships. I was thrilled to see our principal, Karen Neitzel, had also driven down to watch the students compete. And then she was continuing to Coos Bay to watch the volleyball team!
What a lucky community we are to have this kind of dedication from our educators.
The letter to the editor titled "Cruel Irony," published on Nov. 5, contains a glaring error. The fourth sentence of the third paragraph should read, "By Dec. 1, 2011, my students will have spent 10 class periods (four weeks) testing."
Please excuse the confusing, albeit unintended, hyperbole.