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Letter to the Editor for June 30, 2014


Two-parent family remains best option for society

Sociologist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, “Much of the social history of the Western world … has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.” We have inherited from our ancestors something which works: the two-parent family. A man and a woman marry for life and provide a home for their children. It’s not perfect; we humans aren’t perfect. But numerous studies have established that this is the best environment for raising happy, healthy children — it works.

Then a generation ago along came no-fault divorce and the sexual revolution. Both sounded good at the time, but once adopted, they have led to the single-parent family. Single parents want to raise happy, healthy children, of course, and many do. But they are laboring under a handicap. They are trying to do by themselves a job best done by two people.

Mr. Sowell, a black man, was appalled at the destructive effect this change has had upon the people of his race, particularly the young men. Huge numbers of them spend significant amounts of time in jail, and all too many are murdered in gang violence. They make the neighborhoods in which they live hells on earth.

Some claim that this is evidence of racism in our society, but it’s not. The rate of out-of-wedlock births in our inner cities is around 70 percent. The refusal of these young black men to marry the mothers of their children deprives them of the civilizing impact young women can have on them, and significantly increases the odds that their sons will share their unhappy fate. For them, the single-parent family most decidedly does not work.

We whites should not feel complacent. As the rate of our out-of-wedlock births continues to increase, our young men are sharing the same pathologies afflicting young black men. We’re just not as far down that path as they are.

Western civilization has tinkered with the institutions of marriage and of the family, and the results have not been good. But we have not learned from our experience, and continue to replace what works with what sounds good.

Pete Sundin

Baker City


Another chance for Langrell

Five months ago we recommended Baker City Mayor Richard Langrell give up his largely ceremonial title but remain a city councilor.

Langrell has declined to do so.

But now it seems some of his colleagues might be willing to rescind their decision, made in January 2013, to elect Langrell as mayor.

(In Baker City the elected councilors, not the voters, choose the mayor.)

At the end of Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Councilor Clair Button said he believes at least three of the seven councilors have asked Langrell to step down as mayor.

The Council might discuss the issue, and possibly vote on a measure to remove Langrell as mayor, at its next meeting, July 8.


Letters to the Editor for June 27, 2014

We need to organize to fight global warming

A small group has been meeting to discuss the changing climate and the global warming that is causing it and what we can do about it. Soon we are going to call a public meeting of people seriously concerned about global warming who, like us, feel that we should be organized.

When I approached my nieces about joining such a group each declined, saying in effect: “My plate is too full already.” These are young women with young children who will be adults, doing the world’s work 40 years from now. That is, they will be only if enough of their parents come to realize that efforts to save the habitability of the Earth is the most important work of their entire generation. No other generation ever had a more important task.

Many disbelieve “all this global warming stuff,” citing evidence of one-time rivers and forests in the Sahara and palm trees and crocodiles in North Dakota as proof that the present warming is but one more normal variations of Earth’s climate. However, there is one critical difference between now and then. This time the warming is caused by 35.6 zillion (however many that is) tons of carbon we have put in the air, and which we must slow down adding to until the Earth’s various carbon traps catch up. This we do by such things as switching from gas to electric autos, from coal to solar power, and greatly reducing the number of jet flights. We must somehow get the coal and petroleum corporations to leave in the ground $20 trillion worth of coal and crude that they would like to have us buy and burn.

Sooner or later we must have the government in our struggle and on our side. For this we must be organized, for being organized we are a movement, and movements move governments as nothing else does. Enough people concerned with global warming can keep the Earth habitable for when your kids are running it. You young parents, we need your talents, your energy and your numbers.

Dan Martin

Baker City

I’m a veteran who received excellent care from VA

I am a veteran. I receive all of my medical care since 1999 at the VA medical facility at Boise. My experience with this VA medical facility is quite different than that reported in a recent editorial which appeared in the Herald and which is being reported in most of the major news media.

I have received excellent and timely care consistently during this time span. While under the care of the VA medical system I have suffered two events which could have been either life devastating or fatal. One involved prostate cancer and the other a blockage of a carotid artery. Both of these events were dealt with in a timely and efficient manner.

I believe that the news media has a duty to investigate and report a complete story, not just what gets people’s attention.  There is a bright side to the VA medical facility story that should be addressed. I know. I’ve been there.

Sig Siefkes

Baker City


A watershed moment in history turns 100


Exactly one century ago from Saturday, the world changed in a way it never had before.

Perhaps it is hyperbolic to deem June 28, 1914, the most momentous day in human history.

But if this indeed qualifies as exaggeration then it is of the mildest variety — the antithesis of, say, referring to “You Light Up My Life” as the best song of the 1970s simply because it sold the most records.

What happened on that day, in Sarajevo, Bosnia, a city little known outside Europe, is a frail teenager named Gavrilo Princip fired a pistol into a car.

Princip’s bullets killed two people: Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie.

Franz Ferdinand was the nephew of Franz Joseph, emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.


Feds: Slow down on ESA plan


The federal government can devote about as much time and money as it wants to writing rules and laws, yet bureaucrats seem to believe the citizens affected ought to be able to read reams of badly written jargon in a couple of months.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and 42 other lawmakers think citizens are being shortchanged.

We agree.

Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should heed the legislators’ advice and give Americans more time to comment on three proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

These changes, which were unveiled on May 12, could result in more public and private land being designated as critical habitat for threatened and endangered species.

If enacted, those changes could have a major effect on the use of public and private land in Baker County and elsewhere in Oregon.

We’re thinking here in particular of the looming possibility of the sage grouse being listed as threatened or endangered, a decision the Fish and Wildlife Service is supposed to make in 2015.

And yet with so much potentially at stake, the two federal agencies proposed to give the public just 60 days to comment on the changes to the ESA.

Walden and the other lawmakers suggest adding six months to the comment period.

That’s a reasonable request.


Merit pay better than COLA? Maybe


We endorsed Baker City Manager Mike Kee’s proposal to give the city’s 16 non-union employees a 1.5-percent cost-of-living raise, the first for that group since 2011.

The City Council disagreed.

The Council did craft a potential compromise, though, and one that could be an improvement over Kee’s plan.

Councilors recently voted 6-1, with Mayor Richard Langrell opposed, to give Kee authority to award raises of up to 2 percent to non-union staff who have done well on performance evaluations.

Our support for this idea is not without reservation because it’s possible that all of the city’s non-union staff will end up with a bigger raise than what Kee initially proposed — 2 percent compared with 1.5 percent.

That would be too generous.

It defies logic to believe that each non-union employee has performed at such a high level to warrant the maximum pay raise possible.

You won’t find that sort of unanimous excellence at any organization, public or private.

That caveat aside, we prefer giving raises based on merit rather than a spurious cost-of-living basis.

Ultimately, the Council’s decision has put the onus, and rightly so, on Kee.

If he decides to give each non-union employee the full 2-percent raise councilors allotted, then we expect he will explain in some detail, to the public and the Council, why the workers’ performance justified the maximum reward.


Bracing for fire season


The rain that doused Baker County earlier this week was no mirage.

But neither is the warm sunshine that quickly replaced the sodden clouds.

And sunshine, not downpours, has been the defining characteristic of this spring. Until Wednesday, in fact, this spring was the driest in the county since World War II.

With the whole of summer yet to come, the odds are high that the fire danger will escalate quickly as July progresses.

Which is not to say big wildfires are a near certainty in Baker County.


Letter to the Editor for June 20, 2014


Writer didn’t mention effectiveness of vaccines

In a recent guest opinion published in another local paper, Baker County resident L.E. Castillo criticizes a new Oregon Health Authority vaccination requirement that parents who opt out of having their children vaccinated watch a “vaccine education module.” Castillo bolsters his objection by citing several studies showing that some children suffer adverse effects from vaccines. 

Based on these studies Castillo advises parents “not to vaccinate your children until you’ve done some homework.” As an alternative to vaccination, Castillo recommends “homeopathic vaccine alternatives.”

Castillo makes no attempt to present the overwhelming evidence that vaccination prevents deadly epidemics that used to plague the world. 

Parents magazine has this to say about vaccination: “The odds of experiencing a vaccine-related injury are greatly outweighed by the dangers of catching a vaccine-preventable disease. The measles vaccine, for instance, can cause a temporary reduction in platelets (which control bleeding after an injury) in 1 in 30,000 children, but 1 in 2,000 will die if they get measles itself. The DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis/chicken pox) vaccine can cause seizures or a temporary ‘shocklike’ state in 1 in 14,000 people, and acute encephalitis (brain swelling) in 11 in 1 million. But the diseases it prevents are fatal in 1 in 20 cases, 1 in 10 cases, and 1 in 1,500 cases, respectively.”

Bottom line is that Castillo leaves out of his guest opinion the most important information that parents should have in making the decision to opt out of vaccinating their children. 

Gary Dielman

Baker City


Failing to take care of veterans: No excuses


The federal government does a pretty fair job of making sure our soldiers, when they fight on our behalf, have cartridges for their rifles and shells for their artillery.

But after the battles, when these men and women get sick, they often don’t get so much as a “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” from our supposedly grateful nation.

The widespread failures of the U.S. Veterans Administration, and in particular its medical care apparatus, are of course appalling.

People who don’t even work, much less risk their lives carrying out our country’s policies, will be sitting in a doctor’s office maybe a day or two after they notice the symptoms.

Veterans, meanwhile, wait a month.

If they’re lucky.

In Oregon, by and large, veterans are not even that fortunate.


Law can’t deal with all issues


One trait common among lawmakers is the confidence that they can solve every problem by passing a law.

The futility of this notion is of course obvious to anyone with even a passing knowledge of human history.

Murder, for instance, has been a crime in most parts of the world for centuries.

Yet people keep killing each other, and in pretty much every country.

Probably no type of tragedy prompts more proposals from lawmakers than a fatal shooting at a school.


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