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Letters to the Editor 2017-11-02

SHAMING IS UNHELPFUL

Katherine, creator of the Friendly Anarchism podcast, advocates “shaming people for their fascist beliefs” in the Oct. 19 EW cover story, “Antifa.”

Publicly shaming those who engage in hateful acts and live by hateful ideologies does precisely nothing to convert ignorance and hatred into understanding and trust. Only real human connection does that.

If the annihilation of fascism and violence against oppressed populations is the goal, the catharsis of the fight against fascist individuals should be irrelevant. Shame the fascist tool, not the person who wields it. There is no “them,” no “other.” There is only the spectrum of ways in which we humans wrestle with our fears and our egos, some much more violently than others.

It takes more courage to listen to a fascist than it does to fight one. Only then will you have the opportunity to share the evidence of their beliefs’ destructive consequences, and only then will the people you claim to protect be safe.

Lindsay Kunhardt, Eugene 

 

FIGHTING STUDENT DEBT

As a student dealing with increasingly high textbook prices, I wanted to show my appreciation for Max Thornberry and his article “Pay to Play” (Oct. 12) highlighting the situation we are facing today. It is an important and often neglected component of the unreasonable debt that is being placed upon students today.

I also wanted to express my delight that you highlighted Open Educational Resources at Lane Community College. I firmly believe that open textbooks are an integral part of the solution. 

Access codes are a particularly nefarious development. I have started working with OSPIRG, a student political group with a presence both at LCC and UO, as getting textbooks cheaper and stopping the use of access codes is one of their top issues.

I would like to encourage my fellow students to get involved, even if that just means letting your professors know that you are bothered by high prices and access code use.

Cole Sabin, Eugene

 

KISSING TRUMP'S RUMP

Apropos “Right Wing Horrors” (EW Oct. 26), the two words that most aptly describe the time we live in are “frightening” and “dispiriting."

And Halloween has nothing to do with it!

While he was still just a candidate running for President, Donald Trump once famously boasted that he could “walk down [New York City’s] Fifth Avenue, shoot someone,” and walk away with impunity (thereby demonstrating both an arrogant disregard of our laws and a callow lack of concern for his fellow human beings).

As reported in The New York Times last week, Trump boasted again after being accorded a “standing ovation” by timorous and self-serving Congressional Republicans, many of whom had expressed dissatisfaction with the resident privately but cravenly kowtowed to him when he appeared before them in what he later characterized as a “love fest”.

It’s easy to imagine the leader of the free world pulling off another stunt in full view of the public that he could later boast about:

 

If Donald J. Trump 

bent over

and pulled down his pants

baring his rump

right smack on the Lincoln Mall,

it’d shock hardly anyone at all.

But of course diehard Congressional

 Trumpists 

would trip all over themselves

vying for a chance 

to be first in line to kiss it.

You wouldn’t want to miss it!

 

Adam Horvath, Eugene 

 

CONTRA SCABS

Standing in support with AFSCME workers at the picket line, there was some discussion about why “scabs” turn their backs on their fellow workers who make a sacrifice for themselves and the larger group. Some people who enjoy benefits earned by unions throughout labor’s history turn away from their fellows, indicating to management and anyone else that they are “good little slaves.”

The word “slave” may be too strong, as slaves got nothing but bare sustenance for harder work than even today; however when comparing the ratio between the raises middle management acquired (19 percent) to those of lower paid employees (2 percent), it is no exaggeration to say that this disparity is a lot less than fair. This is made truer when considering the inequality present to begin with.

Some “strikebreakers” say they cross the picket lines because “they need the money” but add, not noticing the contradiction, that their pay and benefits, even vacation time, are “quite good.” If their pay is so good, why can’t they spare a bit of it in the interest of fairness in a system where hard work is supposed to be valued and rewarded whatever your station in life is?

The ideal of communism (or presently, socialism) is that everybody earns comparable amounts — “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need” (Karl Marx). The aspirations and desires of all fair and good Americans are not far from this. Everyone should be able to earn a decent living in the U.S.

David Ivan Piccioni, Eugene

 

A MODEST PROPOSAL

Here is what I figure is the increase in homeless shelters this winter from last winter, including decisions made by the Eugene City Council on Oct. 23: Dusk to Dawn tents, St. Vincent de Paul, from November to March: 20 more; Nightingale rest stop: 6; Emerald Village: 22. Total new: 48.

Compared to the need, we are not getting anywhere. The homeless advocate shelter creation strategy has failed.

Fortunately there is hope. At a recent City Council public forum, a woman who lives by Monroe Park talked about the “thugs” who inhabit the park, using drugs, bad language, fighting. They scare her so much she is thinking of moving.

Councilor Greg Evans spoke of similar problems at a park near where he lives, which he said are the worst he has seen in the over 30 years he’s lived in Eugene.

This is great. The profoundly alienated surplus people that middle-class society literally has no use for can drive the middle-classers out of their homes, lower property values, de-gentrify neighborhoods and make houses available to be subdivided into cheap apartments.

In the absence of any coherent militant leadership among the advocates, the “thugs” will lead the way. When creation fails, it’s time for destruction.

“Just trying to prove, that your conclusions, should be more drastic” — Bob Dylan.

Lynn Porter, Eugene 

 

BAD BONDS

An apology: In the recent voters’ pamphlet, I opposed the bond measure “Bonds to Fix Streets and Fund Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects.” I did so on the grounds that the 9-1 spending on paving streets to alternative transportation infrastructure was not enough. It isn’t. But I went on to say, “This isn’t the right bond for Eugene.” And for that I apologize. 

Aquila Tax-Free Trust of Oregon, a New York group that manages Oregon Municipal Bonds, identify the Oregon Municipal Bond Investor as “Oregon taxpayers who can benefit from income that is exempt from federal and state income taxes.” 

The logic is this: Lacking tax money for basic services, the city taxes us to buy a bond that will provide tax-free income to the richest Oregonians? 

Outcomes aside, any bond measure impoverishes the community. The $3.8-trillion bond market uses local governments to funnel money upward to the very people who then (Citizens United v. FEC) control our government from the top down. That is oligarchy, not democracy. 

I want separated bicycle lanes, but I cannot support any bond measure. The other day, at the City Club of Eugene, I asked myself, “Who am I? Why am I here?” That was a difficult question.

I realized afterward that maybe we should all ask ourselves the same question. “Who are we? Why are we here?” Try not to leap to an answer. Sit with it. Then look at this bond measure again. 

Otis Haschemeyer, Eugene

 

THE BOND SCAM

The question on the ballot in Measure 20-275 is not whether we should fix our streets, but whether we should buy a bond to do so.

I don’t support the bond measure for several reasons. A relatively peevish one: I resent the city hiring California strategists (the Strategy Research Institute) to tell them how to message the bond measure such that it might pass. The strategists were clear: Passage would require city agents (some official, some not) aggressively promoting the bond.

We’ve seen the city insiders coming out in letters, talks on social media. I find the overlap of scripted terms — “necessary,” “successful,” “accountability,” “responsibility” — and threats of a dark future, such as “if allowed to sunset, streets will begin to deteriorate, immediately!” All too Matrix-y.

But, again, the measure is not about whether we should fix our streets. It is about whether we should buy a bond to do so. The bond market is a trillion dollar industry profiting the top-half of the wealthy one percent.

Local governments can stop buying bonds. The money comes from us. It can stay with us. No need to pay what would in this case be $2.5 million-plus to billionaires like Uncle Phil.

It’s okay, everyone. We can find another way. The city will find another way. No need to be taking our dollars and giving them to the top. There are many dire things in the world, but this is not one of them.

Zondie Zinke, Eugene