Tuesday, December 18, 2012
We need protection
Three days after a gunman opened fire at Clackamas Town Mall and killed two people, a shooter has gunned down more than two dozen people, mostly children, in Connecticut.
When is it going to end? These perpetrators were clearly insane. Or evil. Or both. There is no help for that. But what made it easy for them to accomplish their sick ends was the availability of guns and gun paraphernalia in the United States. I mean, who needs a bulletproof vest? Likely someone who plans something evil! You don’t need a semi-automatic for hunting or self-defense.
How can gun manufacturers sleep at night? How can our government sit by and do nothing as our citizens are slaughtered? When can we feel safe? This sort of gun-created mayhem makes the United States seem like a Third World country. And it’s happening a lot.
Only hunting rifles and simple small arms should be allowed in the hands of private citizens. Period. People carrying guns designed for mass murder should be arrested and their guns confiscated. Second Amendment? So what! Now is now, and we all need protection against these sick murderers.
Wendy and Richard Best
Ironic is right! I agree with Leonard Hickman in his letter to the editor (Dec. 15) he stated that the decision the City made about Walmart affects us all; just not the City.
Leonard is right; even if Walmart decided to build a Marketplace only (and I hope they do) this council as it stands now and the Becky Brun group will try their best to not let it happen.
It is time the majority of the folks in this county have a say on who will serve us!
‘No’ to 16-story cell tower
A multinational corporation from Massachusetts wants to build a 16-story cellphone tower in our small town. Because the location is within a scenic area and on land designated rural-residential, county planners have to decide whether the tower will be “compatible with the surrounding area,” including compatible with “the visual character of the area.”
I’ve read the proposal, and the corporation’s own numbers show that the tower is clearly not compatible, for at least three reasons:
First, the tower would be 160 feet tall, which the corporation admits is 2.75 times as tall as the “highest existing trees” in the area (58 feet).
Second, a Hood River County planner estimates that the visual width of the tower would be 30 feet at the bottom and 20 feet at the top; if we take an average width of 25 feet, then the total “visual bulk” of the tower would be 4,000 square feet (160 x 25). For one of those 58-foot natural trees to have that much visual bulk, it would have to be a perfect cylinder 69 feet in diameter, all the way from the bottom to the top. Personally, I’ve never seen a fir tree look anything like that.
And third, the proposal includes a computer-enhanced photo showing what the tower would look like from Fairview Drive. In the photo, the tower is twice as tall as the Washington hills behind it and significantly taller than the peak of Mount Adams.
Does any of this sound “compatible” to you? As one of the protesting neighbors says, don’t let this mistake turn Fairview Drive into Spoiled View Drive. I’m sure the property owners are wonderful people, but in this case, please tell the planning office to just say no.
Social Security not broke
Baby boomers, Social Security is not broke. Social Security is not welfare or an unfunded liability. It is funded by an earmarked tax. Only broke if not paid back.
When Social Security was established, it did not carry reserves. Current workers paid in and covered benefits of current retirees. In 1982, under Reagan, Greenspan created a fix as there would not be enough current workers to cover the baby boomers. He proposed, for the first time, that current workers (baby boomers) would not only pay to cover their parents’ generation, but would begin to fund their own retirement.
Greenspan raised the payroll tax on baby boomer generation to create a reserve to cover their retirement. Since 1984, the Social Security payroll tax has paid in more than paid out each year until we now have $2.7 trillion in reserve. It was estimated the reserve would need to be drawn on starting in 2010 when baby boomers started to retire.
This extra money paid was loaned to the government, added to the general fund and paid out for things like tax cuts and wars. Also in 1981, Reagan reduced the top tax rate from 70 percent to 50 percent and again in 1986, to 28 percent.
The money being paid into Social Security and added to the general fund, hid the fact we were not taking in enough tax to cover our expenditures. It hid past deficits. The Social Security trustees report shows there is enough reserves to pay 100 percent of all benefits for next 21 years; after that enough paid in to cover 75 percent of all benefits. There will be an eventual shortfall but not because of benefits.
Social Security was established to cover 90 percent of income. Today it only covers 84 percent. Greenspan did not take into account income inequality.
The payroll tax only taxes the first $110,000 a person makes. It does not tax capital gains earned. Any talk about cutting benefits, changing the cost of living or raising the eligibility age only slows the rate it will be paid back, taking benefits paid for. Social Security has not added to the deficit; it covered past deficits.
Hwy. 35 alert
I think it’s been proven how dangerous Highway 35 is, and with winter bearing down on us, and temperatures at or below freezing, one section of the road in particular scares me. Locals may nod their heads in agreement and picture the exact spot: above Central Vale intersection but below the viewpoint.
The area is shaded all day and any ice remains, which can be deceiving when the rest of the highway may be basking in sun with dry or melted pavement. Locals traverse cautiously over this section. It seems only right to me that signage and/or flashing caution lights be installed to alert drivers, local or otherwise.
Many locals also know to switch to the passing lane heading south on Highway 35 at Odell junction because of south-going cars coming out of Odell … “merging,” not “stopping.” Should the right lane on Highway 35 be exclusively for cars leaving to enter Odell and the through traffic be directed to use the left lanes? An idea a road engineer might best answer.
Some states erect small, simple white crosses, marking those spots where drivers have lost their lives. In memory and as constant reminders for all of us to slow down and use some caution and common sense in this fast-paced world, we as a community may want to consider such crosses. It’s only too sad that there would be so many.
Something for everyone
Sequestration and tax increases: There’s something for everyone. If we simply drive off the fiscal cliff, automatic cuts in the federal budget will begin, making huge reductions in the national debt for the foreseeable future. This should cheer the hearts of all Republicans.
At the same time, if we let the Bush tax cuts expire, tax revenues will increase in a big way. This should please the Democrats.
All of this is the result of much touted bipartisan legislation signed by President Obama. This should make all of us proud.
Bottom line, step on the gas!
John F. Brennan
The time to act is now
Like many people around the world, I am appalled and deeply saddened by the massacre that took place on Friday in Newtown, Conn. We must act to prevent these kinds of events from occurring again.
Our first order of business is restricting the weaponry that can take out so many people in such a short time. Doing so will matter: Australia’s 1996 assault weapons ban was followed by more than a decade free of fatal mass shootings, and accelerated declines in firearm deaths.
By contrast, the number of mass shootings per year has doubled in the U.S. since our federal assault weapons ban expired in 2004.
Please implore our representatives in congress to work to impose immediate restrictions on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. If there is any moment when we’ll have the political will to accomplish this, it is right now.
You can go to congress.org and address all our representatives at once.
Stop the publicity
I would suggest that one partial solution to the gun violence we have recently seen is for major news channels and news agencies to stop broadcasting the names and pictures of the shooters. Do you believe there was a connection between the Clackamas Mall shooting and the Connecticut shooting? I do.
The news channels are — in a twisted way — glorifying the perpetrators. I’m not a mental health expert, but it’s not hard to understand how a sick mind can see mass killings and then suicide as a way to make their mark on the world.
In the same way news organizations don’t publish the names and pictures of victims until families are notified out of respect for the families, we should do the same for these situations — out of respect for all of us.
No laws needed; what we need is a voluntary coalition of major news channels and news agencies. Yes, the word will get out and yes, there will be pictures, but not in major newspapers and magazines and not on national TV.
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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