Timber vs. recreation

At a time when the timber industry is using this summer’s smoke and fires to push Congress for a “fix” that just happens to be more public lands logging, it is good time to remember who the timber industry’s biggest competitor is. It’s not environmentalists. It’s the outdoor recreation industry.

Outdoor activities in Oregon, like hunting, fishing, camping, and river rafting, generate 172,000 direct jobs in our state. That’s three times as many as the wood products industry. Those jobs create a whopping $5.1 billion in salaries and wages and add $749 million into state and local tax coffers every year.

But no one wants to camp in a tree farm. No one wants to float or fish a river surrounded by eroding clearcuts. When the timber industry wins control of our public lands and logs the heck out of them, Oregonians with outdoor rec jobs lose.

The tree farms go up like firebombs, not old forests that have been protected and properly maintained. So let’s protect more old forests on our public lands. When we do, we are protecting Oregon jobs and the tax base, and reducing fire risk too.

Bryant Helgeland

Ashland

 

A tax on teachers?

It is hard to understand what Republicans like Oregon Congressman Greg Walden have against getting a good education. Why are Republicans so intent on increasing taxes on students and teachers? It is common knowledge that the costs of college have skyrocketed, yet Republicans have voted to take away the interest deduction that students pay on their school loans.

Why is Walden punishing grad students who get a tuition waiver? The Republican tax plan taxes students as if they’d actually received the money instead of a waiver.

What’s up with the attack on teachers who take money out of their own pocket to purchase school supplies for students who lack funds for supplies? The Republican tax plan discourages teachers from acting benevolently by taking away the tax incentive.

It’s awful that school districts lack funding to buy supplies for all students, but Republicans take a bad situation and make it worse. Without the tax break many teachers will likely stop buying supplies.

Why does Walden support classrooms where some kids have supplies and the poorer kids do not? Clearly it’s time to elect a new Congressman.

Howard McEwan

Ashland

 

Trump's separate reality

After delivering his American Carnage address, Trump claimed he had the biggest inaugural crowd ever and that he only lost the popular vote due to massive voter fraud. Since then he’s made an additional 1,628 false or misleading statements (fact checkers are keeping track). For contradicting him with facts, he declared our free press “the enemy of the American people” and calls whatever he doesn’t want to hear “fake news.”

Trump’s pathological lying discredits our nation and insults our intelligence, but his True Believers don’t mind. His “alternative facts” and crackpot conspiracy theories are what they like about him. The dumber he sounds the louder they cheer, as if to drown out the steady drumbeat of the Mueller investigation. Their idea of real news is “Pizzagate,” the DNC’s murder of Seth Rich, the long-debunked Uranium One conspiracy or whatever witless distraction Republicans trump up next.

The first casualty of war is truth and we’ve had plenty, but Trump is waging war on truth itself. Meanwhile, supporters are blaming his dismal job performance on a “Deep State” conspiracy (I am not making this up). We don’t have a partisan divide in this country, we have separate realities.

Michael Steely

Medford