Democracy, Taxes and Rights

Online extra letters for April 13


It is a dark day for our democracy when state legislatures expel members for speaking out against gun violence instead of focusing on sensible action to end a preventable epidemic killing our children in school and on the streets.

The Tennessee Speaker of the House called the lawmakers’ actions “unacceptable,” but what is truly unacceptable is ignoring the senseless mass shooting of three children and three adults, ignoring the fact that gun violence is the No. 1 killer of children, and ignoring those begging and pleading for change and for their lives.

Additionally, gun violence disproportionately harms Black people, yet the legislature expelled two Black lawmakers, from predominantly Black jurisdictions, which will undermine the representation and voices of that community.

Curtis Taylor 


April can bring new beginnings. Curiously and, perhaps, appropriately it also brings Tax Day, that dreaded deadline to pay what’s owed to one disappointing vendor of a federal government that purports to provide our national security. Dramatic perhaps, but true. When we take a look through the lens of genuine security, the product the government offers does quite the opposite. 

Strung along for decades with ideas that “might makes right” — the more weapons we design, produce and use, the safer we are — we’ve let Congress allocate nearly half of the total money collected as federal income taxes from job and retiree pay checks to the Pentagon or U.S. military. Our military gets the most funds of any military in the world, and it is more than the next nine countries’ military budgets combined. And many are U.S. allies. Another distinction: The Pentagon is the number one institution of carbon emissions in the world!

It’s clear our government knows how to make war and hefty carbon pollution, but how does it score on the fundamentals of peace?

Though ours is the richest country in the world, we bear the largest per capita prison population, student test scores stagnant or declining, and a long list of troubling issues that cumulatively spell national disaster, death of our dangling democracy and severe community suffering.

Tuesday, April 18, noon to 1 pm, in front of the Eugene Public Library, Planet vs. Pentagon will table with federal budget info. We invite you to participate in the annual People’s Penny Poll. We give you 10 pennies that you allocate among five major departments of the U.S. government. Come share your priorities, conversation and ideas, and help bring about a true People’s Federal Budget.

Gwen Jaspers


In my early 20s, I organized to get Roe v. Wade passed, so I eagerly resubscribed to Ms. magazine when it re-emerged. What a joyful surprise this month when I came across the “last word,” which was a full page quote from a Feb. 16, 2023, speech Oregon’s Sen. Ron Wyden gave on the Senate floor.

He really nails it when he says unconstitutional laws, even when passed by the Supreme Court, that harm the nation and its people, must be ignored. President Abraham Lincoln ignored Dred Scott (The Supreme Court held Black people could never be citizens). Sen. Wyden says we should ignore restrictions on mifepristone, “the abortion pill,” since a judge in Texas banned its use. He states “The Constitution, and the right it affords Americans, are what we must defend.” Agreed! And thanks Sen. Wyden.

Debra McGee

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We welcome letters on all topics and will print as many as space allows, with priority given to timely local issues. Please limit length to 250 words and include your address and phone number for our files. Email to or mail to 1251 Lincoln St., Eugene 97401.

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