UO PUTS MONEY FIRST
I am very thankful to everyone taking measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 on their own accord. I am also grateful that the governor, along with other states, is now making restrictions mandatory as cases have hit an all time high. I work in a restaurant near Broadway. I am going to be out of work soon but am happy to do my part in helping. However, it baffles me to see that the governor and Lane County officials are not addressing the serious lack of accountability on campus.
I ride my bike through campus to get to work. During the day it’s astounding to see the huge groups of people not wearing masks. At night when I get off after ten it is a complete madhouse. Parties are happening everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Every single night. A friend of mine who is a professor at the University of Oregon told me that they encourage students to come back and move in with hopes of a winter term in-person. Why do we have college kids in dorms right now? Let alone sororities and fraternities where there are 60-plus people living under the same roof?
Why is the UO and Eugene not taking accountability for this huge mistake? All these questions are rhetorical. It’s because the UO makes money off of them. Exploiting our at-risk individuals is less important than the mega money-making monster that is the UO.
SAY NO TO NW NATURAL
Despite NW Natural’s best attempts to convince the public otherwise, the fracked gas utility is more closely aligned with the interests of the fossil industry than they are with their customers. Polls show us that the majority of Americans support dramatic action to address the climate crisis, yet NW Natural is still perpetuating the same lies about “natural” gas being a source of clean energy.
After years of fighting against the Jordan Cove fracked gas pipeline, our community isn’t falling for these lies. We know that natural gas is just as destructive to our climate as coal. We know that the extraction, transportation and combustion processes are dangerous to the health of anyone living nearby. And we know that these impacts, as well as the broader impacts of the climate crisis, will disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.
But there’s a clear step that our city can take right now to lead the way in the fight against fracked gas. Eugene has the opportunity to take a stand and refuse to renew their franchise agreement with NW Natural until the utility agrees to halt the construction of all new gas infrastructure, end their subsidies for people to transition onto their dirty fuel and pay for the damage that they have already caused through irresponsibly pushing fracked gas onto our community.
It is time for Eugene to take a stand.
My favorite local store that has oodles of great gift shopping ideas, terrific staff, a history of service to the community and a thorough scrub at the check-out after every customer passes through. It is The Kiva.
One year I gifted family members with rice and beans from The Kiva. But oh what rice! And an amazing swirl of beans. From fine chocolates to fine wines, hand-dipped candles, fascinating indoor plants and much more, The Kiva is my first choice. Gift cards for local gifting helps, too!
BILLS DON’T STOP IN THE FREEZE
What would you rather choose between: paying for groceries or paying your rent? Neither, right? Well, the reality is, most students right now have to make this tough choice. As the pandemic rages on, taking jobs and loved ones with it, more and more students have become food and housing insecure as their ability to retain a job has become more difficult.
I work at an art museum on my college campus, but recently we have had to close to the public because of rising COVID cases. I am out of a job until further notice. My income has stopped, but my bills are still rolling in.
In March a COVID relief bill was passed, which allocated $14 billion to colleges and universities. There has been no relief since then, however, and students are struggling more than ever. That is why we are calling on Congress to provide at least another $14 billion for institutions of higher education in the next COVID relief bill and, most importantly, to allocate funds to colleges based on overall student headcount rather than full time enrollment. This would better serve low-resourced schools and support students who are experiencing food and housing insecurity.
No one should have to worry about how they are getting their next meal or whether they will have a place to live tomorrow, amid trying to get an education. Part-time students are still full-time humans.
JUST TRYING TO MAKE A LIVING IN 2020
I am a small business owner here in Eugene. A couple of days ago I received an eviction notice from the lawyers of the owners of the shop space I rent. It is in a light industrial zoned area.
My original lease ran for two years. I am in my third year of occupancy. During the second year they requested that I sign an amendment to the original lease that would have restricted what I was able to do work-wise in pertaining to the my assigned parking spaces. I checked online for two things. One, was I required to sign the amendment? I was not, so I did not. Two, I checked with the city to see what the specific zoning restrictions for light industrial are. I learned in fact I was in compliance with light industrial zoning.
I attempted to explain to them that all I was trying to do was make a living, which seemed to fall on deaf or uncaring ears.
I believe that they want to maintain a high-end pretty neighborhood in a working light industrial zoned area.
At this time, it would be extremely difficult to comply with this eviction, for several reasons. Essentially my only income for 2020 has been Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Finding another suitable location is difficult, because I have been looking on and off for the last two years, hoping to find a location that would allow me to work without being hassled in my attempts to put food on my table.
The U.S. Supreme Court majority, in this layman’s view, has acted despicably, for three main reasons.
They seem to have put paid to stare decisis, since a short while ago they (a different “they” to be sure) gave the state the power to limit attendance in houses of worship.
The Constitution restricts the court to controversies. The case is moot. So there is no controversy, as the dissenting Chief Justice Roberts noted, and the court is acting without the sanction of the Constitution.
Although conservatives rail against judicial activism, here we have activist conservatives overturning recent court doctrine and doing so without an actual controversy.
All this aside from the illogic of judges making public health decisions. Being honored and obeyed in one learned profession does not give them wisdom in a radically different one. The citizens are now like the wife in a traditional marriage, obliged to honor and obey and about to be regularly f****d.
LET’S AIR OUT THE WHITE HOUSE
As his delusion of winning a second term wanes, President Donald Trump throws a “Hail Mary’” in hopes of deodorizing his legacy. In a speech today, he acknowledges that Big Pharma drastically discounts its drug prices and that middlemen are responsible for the high drug prices. Then he contradicts himself and turns against Big Pharma, “who don’t like me,” and puts the responsibility for high prices on them. To take Big Pharma to task he appoints Alex Azar, former Big Pharma executive and lobbyist, to do the job.
For four years we have awaited his most incredible health plan, which will reduce costs; sadly, this plan did not move at warp speed and we are still waiting. To help with this health care price reduction plan he added Seema Verma to Azar’s staff. She is best noted for asking the state governors to charge Medicaid patients and to raise the price for emergency visits.
I think more deodorant may be needed for the legacy and to fumigate the Oval Office.
Henry J. Bielefeld
THE FAMILY OF HUMANKIND
With family in four different states and two foreign countries we’ll not be gathering around one big table as in years past. We’ll be in small family bubbles where we live. I’ll be here wearing my old UO sweatshirt celebrating the wins of our football team. I’m also celebrating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our President-elect and Vice President-elect. Biden said in his acceptance speech that he will be president, not of red or blue states, but the United States. What a challenge we all have to build bridges, not walls.
As someone who worked as a registered nurse and a volunteer welcoming foreign students to Oregon, I often quoted Carl Sandburg’s prologue to the beautiful “Family of Man”:
“Alike and ever alike, we are on all continents, in the need of love, food, clothing, work, speech, worship, sleep, games, dancing, fun. From tropics to arctics humanity lives with these needs so alike, so inexorably alike.”
So, this week and in the weeks ahead, I’m thankful for my family, my neighborhood where we come from different backgrounds, different faith communities, different political parties but live as neighbors caring for each other. Most of all I’m grateful that I can still help build bridges that bring hope, health and peace right here where I live.
WE NEED A GLOBAL PANDEMIC RESPONSE
The election of President Joe Biden means an effective and secure response to COVID-19, domestically and globally. Biden has emphasized the importance of creating a global coalition to develop a vaccine and help ensure the entire world is safe from the virus. During a speech in Delaware, Biden said, “It is essential to coordinate the global response during a pandemic, and the United States should be leading that response as we had in the past. We should be leading a coordinated global approach on the science, not disregarding experts while pushing dangerous and disproved drugs as if they’re treatments.”
A global response to the pandemic is essential to eradicating the virus because COVID-19 has no borders. We all must work together to ensure everyone around the world is safe. In addition, it is so important to stand in solidarity with the world’s poor because they are being disproportionately affected. COVID-19 is threatening to push 115 million people around the world into extreme poverty. The United States needs to prioritize an increase in the International Affairs Budget to ensure that marginalized communities around the world are protected and a global defeat of COVID-19 is achieved.
THE DISSONANT APOCALYPSE
As the Chump train-wreck careens down the track with all loyalists on board, destination RatFuckery (quoting Tom Tomorrow) it was perfect timing to see Jerry Ritter’s, Greg Williams’ and Doyle Srader’s opinions in the same issue. Although Srader’s greatly-needed piece didn’t name it as such, the Ritter and Williams letters highlight what they all alluded to: cognitive dissonance. As Srader so rightly points out, it is a human trait most humans don’t want to own, consciously.
Social psychologist Leon Festinger, through his studies of human behavior and decision making, showed among other things that when people are confronted with facts that are counter to beliefs they’ve grown conditioned to believing, even when those deeply held beliefs are baseless and/or have little merit and validity, they will still cling to their original decisions. In essence, they are supporting something that goes against their own self-interest — like smoking when you know it may kill you, or voting for something, someone, that doesn’t have your best interests in mind. This is cognitive dissonance, and neuroscience.
Many evangelicals now perceive their god to be a Biblical figure, causing “Christian” actor Jon Voight to label leftists as evil and insinuate Biden is Satan. Never mind their god’s incessant deceit while holding the Bible upside down; the country in a suspended state of purgatory.
To them, and anyone, I recommend Leon Festinger’s book When Prophecy Fails to have a “Revelation,” if they choose, about the imminent apocalypse of our own armageddon of belief systems.
Sean S. Doyle
THE PROBLEM ISN’T ELSEWHERE
Greg Williams (“Biden Will Sell Us Out,” Letters 11/12) has bought his party’s line that the country will go to hell in a handbasket with Joe Biden as president. He clearly hasn’t noticed how bad things are now for many, many people who are not like him, and who are greatly relieved that the petty tyrant who demonized them was fired by the American people.
As far as blaming all the little Third World babies being born for the larger world’s problems, the lifetime resource use of a baby born in a wealthy country, much of it taken from poor countries, is about 13 times that of a baby born in a poor country. A mother there would have to raise 13 children to adulthood to equal the planetary impact of one baby born to an American mother. The African average fertility rate is only 2.5 times the U.S. rate, and many don’t survive the first few years. Conservatives like him seem to be very good at externalizing their demons. In truth, they’re usually much closer to home.
CHECK YOUR EGOS
An analogy is made in the movie Legends of the Fall where the same woman has an emotional/romantic relationship with three brothers. The metaphor is that the woman is like pure clean water satisfying the siblings. One of the functions of water is to generate life. In this movie, the water who served as a bond between the men froze and turned to ice, fracturing their unity.
This analogy appears also in activism. Activists who are working on a particular problem are for the most part in agreement about that primary goal. Every one of them also has other issues to which they are also committed. When these affiliations are brought up, sometimes disparity appears, putting in danger the original focus or intention of the group. It is as if the water we treasure so much, freezes into ice derailing us into our primitive instincts.
The “enemy” or groups fighting for the fruit of capitalism, are not as restricted as we are. Their goal is making a lot of money and, in that, they find solidarity. This once solidified, can serve as a launching pad to other business ventures. They work hard, aren’t restricted by ethics, nor do they analyze their actions’ future impact.
Activists need to check our egos before going to work with others. While we are fighting for our lives, the future of life and justice, we should never forget that our “enemy” is just as human as we are.
David Ivan Piccioni
DON’T BELIEVE ANY OF THEM
The unquestioned obedience and utter submission of Oregonians in accepting the fascist edicts of ignorant politicians (Kate Brown, Joe Biden, Donald Trump) and Big Pharma’s lobbyists (Tony Fauci, Bill Gates, the CDC, the WHO) is on par with the childish and illogical belief systems perpetuated by religious salespeople.
A TIME TO MOVE FORWARD
Joe Biden is president-elect, taking office Jan. 20. It’s time to face our problems head on. We have several major issues that need immediate attention. First, equality and justice. We must work to stop systemic racism, starting in our own lives and throughout our communities and we must provide homes for everyone. Second, transition to clean energy and conservation of resources, especially protecting and restoring forests and implementing regenerative agriculture. Critical thinking and using the scientific method help us understand the truths of the climate crisis, toxic pollution and mass species extinction. Third, we must implement fair elections and enact strong campaign finance reforms. Wealthy corporations and individuals have bought legislators and laws that have enriched them and voters have been suppressed at the expense of the people and the planet. Any elected public servant that is not on board should step down and get out of our way.
NONCOOPERATION AND NONRECOGNITION
Our democracy is in a precarious state. Although we can hope for the best, we must prepare for the worst. During the next two months Americans will be required to stand up and nonviolently defend our fragile democracy. We must not just wait passively.
The Electoral College votes must reflect the respective popular votes of each state; constitutional process must be followed. Coups can overthrow modern democracies gradually, as in Germany, or suddenly, as in Chile. Looking seriously at this reality, we need to find ways to make a decisive difference for the better.
Coups are prevented and democracy upheld by the actions of concerned citizens. Let’s urge politicians and civil society — unions, schools, businesses, employers, all of us — to pledge nonrecognition of any federal power seized illegitimately. Let’s encourage non-cooperation, demonstrations, political advocacy, and work stoppages if necessary, to ensure a peaceful transfer of power to the duly elected president.
COMMERCE, NOT CONFLICT
As a country that is heavily reliant on exporting it is in the U.S.A.’s interest to create a larger consumer market around the globe. Only 5 percent of the world’s population is in the United States, meaning that 95 percent of the world’s consumers are on the international market. By uplifting those who currently live merely to subsist, we start the wheels of development. Giving people the opportunity and hope to grow out of a desperate situation will yield a return on investment since these people will now be able to work, produce, and earn an income. The Chamber of Commerce has come out and echoed this same train of thought. The evidence is clear that stabilizing and creating middle classes around the world is beneficial to the U.S. export economy.
From a national security standpoint, we can start to stabilize regions of the world by limiting the desperation. It is human nature to survive, and if there is no one else to get medicine, food and security from, people will end up as foot soldiers on the wrong side of history. We must learn from the examples of the past. Post WWI Germany perfectly illustrates how poverty and desperation can lead to a national security threat. Afghanistan, Sudan and Somalia are all examples of how extreme poverty ends up co-opting men and women into terrorist organizations. Additionally, several four-star generals have emphasized the role of foreign economic development in our maintaining national security. They know best that wars are not won with guns alone.
Arjuna Fournier da Silva
STOP WORSHIPPING WINDMILLS
If you want to protect the human food supply, we need to ban biofuel production, ban industrial windmills and end all subsidies and mandates for solar energy. We should finance research into promising new exotic energy sources that have high energy density and which produce electricity continuously 365 days a year. Bring home all of our troops, get out of NATO and all foreign entanglements, and replace gunboat diplomacy with a crusade to ban nuclear weapons. Even a small nuclear war will shut down food production and kill billions of people worldwide.
Everyone should watch two free YouTube videos. “Balloons in the Air: Understanding Weather and Climate” is by father and son scientists Ronan Connolly and Michael Connolly. They systematically destroy the greenhouse gas theory through analysis of over 20 million weather balloon data recordings. “Planet of the Humans” is director Michael Moore’s exposé of the renewable energy disaster.
In the 16th century we carbon based human animals burned people alive as “weather witches.” Today we worship windmills and blame cow farts for bad weather. It’s insanity piled upon insanity.
The Republicans have broken the 250-year unwritten tradition of a voluntary peaceful transfer of power, up until now always honored by the loser of a presidential election. President Joe Biden can not magically fix this tragedy. The Republicans will just get better at overturning elections. The next time they succeed with their cynical loophole tricks great and small, along with their avalanche of lies, it will become even harder to fix our broken election system. If we fail to act now, the next great American event could be the complete hollowing out of democracy.
We need new federal legislation.
1. An oath to tell the truth. Every elected or appointed person in the federal government who takes an oath also swears under penalty of perjury to always tell the truth, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There must be a penalty or public officials will never watch their words.
2. Congress could make it a federal crime to falsely allege voter fraud. The law might state that voter fraud complaints must be submitted first in writing to local election boards with a sworn affidavit, and if a complaint has merit, the board can send it to the state’s attorney general’s office.
3. Congress could pass a “fairness doctrine” law requiring a fact-checking “truth scroll” on the bottom of the TV screen of news programs. Untruths and lies told yesterday will show up today in the fact checking scroll.
BEZOS SHOULD CLEAN HIS OWN HOUSE
On Nov. 16, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) announced a $100 million gift from Jeff Bezos’ $10 billion Earth Fund to protect the Emerald Edge region in Canada and the United States, which TNC calls “the largest intact coastal rainforest on Earth.” Other efforts to tackle climate change and advance the science will also be supported.
Bezos’ Earth Fund is undeniably a move in the right direction, which all the world’s 2,000 billionaires will have to emulate sooner or later or they will go down with the rest of us. However, for Bezos to continue to make money (to give away or not), he has to go on selling crap we don’t need from all too many sources that don’t pay living wages or their fair share of environmental costs or taxes, not to mention wiping out or buying out small, less efficient local shops, polluting the air with transportation emissions and pretending that the mountains of cardboard, plastic and styrofoam are someone else’s responsibility.
As for the latter, he should institute a company-wide policy to recycle such materials, as well as old electronics and appliances purchased through Amazon, and, if necessary, build the recycling facilities himself, creating even more jobs. Nice that Bezos is going to help protect and restore the planet, but he needs to clean up his own business at the same time.
IT’S ALL ABOUT CORPORATE POWER
Examining President Donald Trump’s goals concerning unfair trade deals, immigration, China’s government and regulations, let’s consider a little history. During Ronald Reagan’s Republican administration, the United States transformed from the largest importer of raw goods and exporter of finished goods, to the largest exporter of raw goods and importer of finished goods.
Democratic President Bill Clinton signed NAFTA in his first year in 1992, but it was formulated during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush’s Republican administrations, and updated with the USMCA in Trump’s Republican administration. Normalization with China commenced in 1979 in a conference between Democratic President Carter and Deng Xiaoping, but the Chinese trade systems were then formulated during the Reagan administration. These agreements, developed by American Corporations through the Republican Party are two of the building blocks of globalization.
The American government doesn’t “send” industries abroad, nor do Mexico and China “steal” American factories. Industries are located to foreign countries by their corporate owners to take advantage of cheaper labor and less regulation. Likewise foreign workers don’t “steal” American jobs. Corporations and businesses hire foreign workers because they work for lower wages and don’t unionize.
Consolidation of corporate wealth and power are standard Republican policies. Cutting taxes for the wealthy and reducing corporate regulations were Republican President Trump’s major accomplishments. The economy grew at the same steady rate from 2009 until 2019, negating the need for these changes in the tax laws and regulatory structure.
Stripping wealth and power from the working and middle classes is at the root of our nation’s problems and has been for 40 years.