Letters to the Editor, March 23
We are infatuated
We have been infatuated with guns from way back, probably even before we were able to gave the Brits a run for their money. One might think that a couple of updated wars would have taken the romance out of it. We have continued to watch “Westerns,” although in the real world Marshal Dillon and the Lone Ranger are fools.
Now we are told that arming schoolteachers “will make a potential shooter think twice.” Wrong! He need not even think once to know that his first target has to be the teacher, big as life, in front of the class.
My friends, the idealistic “Second Amendment” lovers would defend democracy from potential dictators. Barricades in the streets may have brought down the French monarchy: That was 200 years ago. Today we can see what a ruthless Assam can do with modern weaponry. He killed and starved a few thousand of his citizens, in his own Syrian neighborhood of Ghouta.
Democracy rests on the shoulders of an informed electorate, with an eye to the common good. We have our jobs cut out for us.
Hans H. Stroo
Support open textbooks
The truth is, college is expensive. Expenses such as food can be a struggle for students.
According to the College Board, students spend over a $1,000 on textbooks each year. This is because a handful of publishing giants control the market; students must purchase the required materials. It’s a broken market.
Emily Newbury, an environmental science major at SOU, says, “In my classes, I often have to buy books that are very expensive. If I can’t find a cheap rental online, I simply don’t buy the book.” It’s true: 65 percent of students would rather go without a textbook than buy it.
Textbooks are expensive because they aren’t textbooks in the traditional sense. Textbooks for many introductory classes require non-transferable, single-use access codes. These codes grant online access to homework, quizzes and tests needed for the class. However, these codes expire at the end of the term, leaving students without study aids.
An Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group study finds that, in introductory classes, students must pay full price for materials because of bundling. Of the bundles studied, 45 percent were unique to one campus and couldn’t be found online.
Clearly, switching to open textbooks makes sense. Just imagine how students like Emily could succeed with free textbooks.
Really fed up
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a delinquent 8-year old as president? Now you know. Hopefully, at some point, the 30-some percent who elected this dog-and-pony show will get their heads out of whereever they are, accept what they have done to this country and the world, and help change it.
“But wait,” you say, “my paycheck is bigger!” That isn’t going to last — the tax break was never intended to help you. That’s for the rich donors that helped put Trump and the Republican Congress in office. That part’s permanent.
And speaking of the Republican Congress, they have put party above country for decades. It’s time to send them out to find a real job. That increase in your paycheck also came at the expense of environmental regulations. Now companies can pollute to their heart’s content and financial predators are free to do what they want as well.
Pence isn’t much of an option, but a Democratic Congress would start righting the ship of state.
Just say no
There comes a time when we need to say no to any new tax. We’re paying for a new school in Phoenix and may be asked to pay for a new jail in Medford. They may be necessary, but we need to consider remodeling when possible.
Most of us pay hefty federal, state and property taxes. We have some friends who pay over $20,000 a year for their home. Think this over, in 10 years it would be $200,000 and in 30 years it would be $600,000 plus the 3 percent-a-ear additional tax when the assessor factors it in. In time, the city and county will own most of the property. This must not be.
We own some rentals and we know why the landlord needs to raise rents. They are not making a fortune as many believe, especially when we pay for the water, trash, repairs, taxes, insurance and outside lights (multi-family dwelling). Much of our tax issues above are caused by our entitlement programs. Entitlement spending accounts for a little over half of government spending. Until we solve the entitlement problem, we will continue to have excessive government debt and deficits. We are close to a crisis situation now.
People, not buildings
I will not vote for another $100 million building for a new Jackson County Jail to sit among the countless other empty buildings in downtown Medford.
If public safety is truly our goal, (Medford) perhaps policing and new buildings are not the only option. Perhaps a $30,000 to $40,000 survey could explore other options: family planning and education, new and deeper mental health care including addiction treatment, job opportunities, raising minimum wage, etc. Take off the blinders and the options are endless. Inquire about other countries who have much lower states of incarceration (Norway and Sweden). New thinking is required.
Let’s drop our “blinders” that policing and buildings provide public safety. They don’t. Only better social safety supports and a good public school system, that spends money on people, not buildings.
I hesitated at a busy intersection in Eagle Point recently, aware of an approaching bicycle. After letting him cross in front of me, my musings began:
His mama might have been concerned that her adolescent son had his younger brother on the bike (Is that legal these days?) and that he didn’t come to a full stop.
His mama should be impressed that he was attentive to his surroundings and didn’t cross until he was fully sure that I was allowing it.
His grandma would be pleased as punch with the very respectful nod and smile he gave in my direction as he passed, clearly acknowledging his appreciation. You go, boy!
This grandma was further proud as I took one last look in my mirror to see that both boys were wearing helmets.
I thought nostalgically back about 50 years to nice spring days when my teacher-father would bike us the 5 miles to school. He would strap his briefcase and my brother on the rear basket, my sister on the handlebars, and me on the crossbar. None of us had helmets.
My generational reflection: All is still well with my world…at least for today! Thank you, young man.