Saturday, September 1, 2012
Jon Laraway’s letter of Aug. 22 caught my eye, not so much for its “content” but for its suspiciously familiar language. Sure enough, about 95 percent of the “letter” was cribbed from a website called blogmocracy.com.
Let’s leave aside the obvious mistakes in the “history” served up by this popcorn machine of Reagan-worship and at least agree that the banking/lending crisis has its roots way before the events of the last five years. There’s been plenty of greed and bad decisions on both sides of the aisle for many decades.
Whatever the outcome this November, there’s plenty of work to do. But please, please, can you be honest about your sources when you serve up the warmed-over agitprop? It’s just plain Bush-league to pass this off as your own creation.
Keep multi-use of basin waters
The concept of the Columbia as a “river of commerce” now certainly includes the economic value of tourism, recreation and company attractiveness to our Hood River area. The Port of Hood River is charged with developing these economic values but must also consider the impact of its decisions on the quality of our unique geographic lifestyle.
The trading-off of public access to a section of the river used for a variety of sports in favor of leasing the river access to a for-profit pay-to-play single sport provider disregards the public interest in favor of commercial activity.
This attitude, as well-intentioned fiscally as it may be, has been an on-going bone of contention between the Port and the citizens of Hood River for many years. The Port needs to consider its position carefully as administrators of this public trust!
Deregulation is culprit
The story line that Democrats caused the recession of 2008, forced banks to give home loans to poor people who then defaulted is like blaming one apple for being rotten when the whole tree is infected. The Aug. 22 letter by Jon Laraway states this recession story and blames Democrats for running up the national debt.
He has one thing correct: Yearly deficits did decline; yet the national debt nearly doubled from 2001 to 2008, going from $5.6 to $10.2 trillion. Bush paid for the Iraq-Afghanistan wars ($1.4 trillion) and the Medicare part B drug benefit ($300 billion), off budget through supplemental spending bills.
Supplemental bills hide the true size of the federal deficit. So Bush used accounting tricks to make it seem like his budgets were dropping.
The last time the federal budget was balanced was under Clinton. Bush inherited a surplus of $245 billion. For 30 years, Republicans campaign as fiscally conservative but govern spending like drunken sailors.
Many economists believe the cause of the horrible recession of 2008 was due to banking and commodity trading “deregulation.” In 1999, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act set off a wave of corporate mergers and allowed banks, insurance companies and securities firms to play on Wall Street.
In 2000, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was passed that allowed the abuse of credit default swaps, which are essentially insurance policies covering losses on securities in the event of a default. Think, bookies trading bets, with banks and hedge funds gambling on whether an investment (say, a pile of subprime mortgages bundled into a security) will succeed or fail.
Because of these deregulation bills, a $62 trillion market remained hidden and unregulated; a staggering amount of money worth more than the entire U.S. stock market in 2008. Wall Street’s biggest players, which now contained everything from your checking account to your pension fund, ran a secret casino!
And when there wasn’t enough money to cover their bets that went south, Bush and Henry Paulson passed TARP to bail them out.
Unregulated free market speculation was at the root of the meltdown of 2008. Now which political party is always championing deregulation?
Reject cable park plan
It’s my considered opinion that closing Nichol’s Basin to public, non-motorized access would deny hundreds of people — tourists, seasonal residents, long-timers young and old — the use of one of the area’s premier multi-use recreation sites.
I don’t live in Hood River, but as a lifelong Columbia Gorge resident, I visit, recreate and spend my money there often. One of the main draws for my family is the open waterfront and Nichol’s Basin.
Just one personal example: The local triathlon club meets there and encouraged me in my first foray into open-water swimming some years ago. Just this past weekend, I took my brother there for his introduction to open-water swimming. Sharing the water were kayakers and stand-up paddlers — representing both recreation and local businesses.
This sort of open multi-use access has nurtured the variety of water sports which have arrived and thrived in the Hood River area in recent years. Closing the basin in favor of a single water-use would be irresponsible — and it’s utterly unnecessary.
A public body ought to have the most careful thought and pressing need to restrict customary uses of a public space, especially when doing so would degrade community livability. There simply is no need to do so at Nichol’s Basin.
Please do not close down this fantastic public, shared water access: The developer will profit, but the entire local community will lose. Studying Nichol’s Basin infrastructure, use and needs is a reasonable idea. Closing it to community access is not. Do the right thing and reject the cable-park proposal.
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Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest 2016
Kiteboarders in action during the pro competition Friday at the 16th Annual Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest in Stevenson. All photos by Ben Mitchell. Enlarge