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Letters to the Editor for Oct. 14, 2015

Union-bashing column lacks supporting statistics

I am unsure of what “a research fellow of labor economics in the Center for Data Analysis at Heritage Foundation” is but after reading James Sherk’s inane diatribe “Unions offer little for workers” ( Baker City Herald Oct 12) it appears to be an impressive-sounding, overly long title meaning anti-unionist. Mr. Sherk tends to cherry pick his supposed facts and make giant sweeping observations with brazen abandon to support his agenda.” Union representation has fallen because most workers see little value in it.” Is it possible that union representation has fallen (if in fact true) through nationwide job losses and a concerted effort to employ part time, minimum wage workers in order to avoid any additional benefits or health care coverage?

 “Unions have little ability to raise wages anymore.” Huh! Collective bargaining? Strikes?

Mr. Shreck then acknowledges that a union member may be better paid but “primarily because organizers target higher paying companies.” I would love to see the facts backing up that statement but, alas, he produces none. “The decline in union membership is due to a decline in worker demand for union representation.” Could it be that many migrants, and other underpaid workers (example: Walmart), jobs are put in jeopardy for even talking to a union? How much representation is allowed overseas where our jobs are being shipped? I’m guessing none! Mr. Sherk continues his ramblings with some obscure handpicked stories of union evil doing, even concluding that being a barber has no safety concerns (Really? scissors, razors!) or need of licensing.

  Here are just a few things I know about unions and what they have tried to accomplish for all union and non-union workers:  A living wage, the weekend, 8-hour work day, a lunchtime, paid overtime, group health care (cheaper and somewhat more affordable), pensions, job safety, child labor and anti-discrimination laws...Lastly I want Mr. Sherk to know that sometime around mid morning, when he is done with his union bashing, he can grab a cup of coffee, take a break, and relax for 10 or 15 minutes — thanks to unions.

Mike Meyer

Baker City

We can’t trust Hillary Clinton in an emergency

In her 2008 presidential campaign, then-Senator Hillary Clinton stated that she should become president as she alone had the competency to handle 3 a.m. emergency phone calls. Well, Secretary of State Clinton got such a phone call at 8 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2012: The U. S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was under attack.

It is still unclear why we had a consulate in Benghazi in the first place. The area is a hotbed of Islamic jihadists and is one of the most dangerous places in the world for Westerners, especially Americans. In the months leading up to the 11th anniversary of 9/11, there were several attacks upon western installations in Benghazi, severe enough that the British withdrew their people. Faced with a deteriorating situation, Ambassador Stephens repeatedly requested security upgrades for his consulate. These were denied.

The U. S. government regarded Benghazi as an acutely dangerous post, yet the consulate’s security apparatus did not meet the minimum standards for such installations. By law, the only person who may wave security protocols is the Secretary of State, which then was Hillary Clinton.

On Sept. 11, wave after wave of Islamists armed with firebombs, rocket propelled grenades and mortars attacked our consulate. Outgunned and overwhelmed, four Americans were murdered, including Ambassador Stephens.

But afterwards, on Sunday talk shows, U. N. Ambassador Susan Rice claimed the Benghazi attacks were a spontaneous reaction to an obscure YouTube video produced by an Egyptian Coptic Christian. That video had indeed been a minor issue in another demonstration a few hours earlier in Egypt, but in Libya, the video was a non-event. Yet the Obama Administration clung to this line for several months, as President Obama had said that al-Qaida had been decimated while the well-organized Benghazi attack said otherwise.

Facing Congressional investigations into Benghazi, Mrs. Clinton famously asked, “What difference does it make?” The Benghazi attack reveals her incompetence in discharging her duties as Secretary of State, and was followed by a massive cover-up. It also showed why we do not want her in the Oval Office receiving those 3 a.m. emergency phone calls.

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Is Baker passing up pot of taxes?

Oregon’s marijuana stores have done a brisk business since recreational sales became legal Oct. 1. Retailers reported sales topping $11 million during the first week.

None of those sales was in Baker County.

Letters to the Editor for Oct. 12, 2015

Wildfires highlight need for bold action to stop global warming

This year’s catastrophic wildfires in Baker County and surrounding areas provide ample justification and motivation to take bold action against global warming by all levels of government.

Unless we curtail and replace carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and until we find the money to properly treat overgrown forests, we almost certainly face ever-increasing danger and destruction.

But, when it comes to creating a safe and sustainable future for our county and our state and our country, there are a couple of “elephants in the living room” that must be addressed and overcome: 

1) Deception, confusion, and denial about the growing concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere which cause global warming, and 

2) Deception, confusion, and denial about the growing concentration of extreme wealth in the hands of a very few that deprives us from making needed infrastructure investments, like alternative energy sources and forest treatment to minimize wildfires and protect our watersheds.

It is essential that we overcome these roadblocks and get needed political action at the federal level, and we should all press for it.

For example, we need to price fossil fuels out of the market. CO2concentrations for hundreds of thousands of years have been around 285 parts per million (ppm). Starting in 1800, they grew to 399 ppm today — a 40 percent increase during those 215 years, mainly due to human activity.  A revenue-neutral carbon tax would promote consumer decisions based on the true total cost of oil, gas, and coal.

We also need much higher taxes on extreme wealth. With increased revenue, we can pay for not only forest treatment and restoration, but also for increased wage supplements to combat needless poverty, and for other infrastructure needs, such as free college tuition, road and highway maintenance, and so much more.

Pope Francis pointed the way during his recent visit when he told us, “Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to our future generations.”

Let us all work together to press for increased governmental intervention for the common good.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

Whose guns do the politicians think they should control?

With all this “gun control” talk, I haven’t heard one politician at either the state or national level say how they plan to take away guns from criminals and bad guys....just law abiding citizens who own guns.

Gary McManus

Baker City

Crime statistics mislead

There are at least a few well-known aphorisms that highlight the fallibility of statistics.

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” — often wrongly attributed to Mark Twain, although its actual origin is uncertain — probably is the most repeated.

Misleading statistics sometimes are innocuous.

But it’s no minor matter when the source of a statistic is such a respected agency as the FBI, and the figures in question purport to show how often violent crimes happen in Baker City.

Walking pace reveals the heart of any community

The best way to see a town — any town, whether it’s the one you’ve lived in for decades or one you’ve never before visited — is by walking its neighborhoods.

You won’t cover a great deal of ground, of course, at the placid pace of a mile or two per hour.

But this strikes me as a clear case in which quality, in terms of what you’ll see, hear and smell, trumps quantity as expressed in miles traveled.

Because from a car, or even from a bicycle, you’ll inevitably miss some of the details that reveal themselves to a pedestrian. 

Hopeful after Haggen

The short, strange saga of the Haggen grocery store in Baker City has attracted considerable attention among local residents.

Which is no surprise.

We all have to eat, after all.

And although the slated Nov. 25 closure of the Haggen store at 1120 Campbell St. won’t leave shoppers without an option, we have over the decades become accustomed to having two major grocery chains — Safeway and Albertsons — from which to choose our staples. 

Letter to the Editor for Oct. 5, 2015

Co-sleeping is 100 percent preventable cause of death

My only purpose as Baker County Medical Examiner is to try and prevent deaths from occurring in this county. I wrote a letter several years ago after we had three infant co-sleeping deaths in a short period of time. This letter urged readers to avoid co-sleeping with infants. Some people thought this was an unnecessary intrusion into family affairs.

Fortunately, doctors at Eastern Oregon Medical Associates (St. Luke’s Clinic Baker City) agree that there is a significant risk of death to young infants sleeping in the same bed with their parents. Medical personnel at EOMA counsel every parent of children born in Baker City to not co-sleep with their infant children.

Two more co-sleeping deaths have occurred in Baker City in the past four months. This has nothing to do with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is not a preventable cause of death. Co-sleeping is a 100 percent preventable cause of death. If a child is not present in the parents’ bed, it will not die from co-sleeping. Parents do not think that they will roll over onto their child and prevent it from breathing. However, an infant lying wedged next to a parent may not be able to lift and turn its head and may suffocate. Parents who are sleeping very soundly because of taking drugs or alcohol provide an additional risk of infant death.

There is nothing wrong with cuddling an infant in bed or on a couch. When it is time for the parents to sleep, the infant needs to be put in a crib or cradle. It is no different than using a car seat for the child. It is what provides life-saving protection from asphyxiation.

Dr. James Davis

Baker City

After another tragedy

President Obama, in talking about the man who shot and killed nine people Thursday morning at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, said the U.S. has “become numb” to mass shootings.

We disagree.

And we’re pretty sure Roseburg residents do too.

Nor do we concur with Mr. Obama’s description of the nation’s response to Thursday’s tragedy as “routine."

Feds find money to build

With the federal government rolling up billion-dollar annual bills for fighting wildfires, a public building in Baker City that costs a bit less than $1 million might seem mathematically insignificant.

But we think the structure the U.S. Forest Service is building this fall is noteworthy.

Not because the $889,000 in public dollars the agency is spending on the building near the intersection of 11th and H streets will hamper its firefighting campaign in a meaningful way.

Letter to the Editor for Oct. 2, 2015

Study shows direct link between childhood trauma, many adult problems

Many of you may know of or may have heard about the lasting effects of trauma in childhood. But if you haven’t, please allow me to elaborate. The ground-breaking Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs study (1998) took a look at how childhood trauma affected adults later in life. The study asked mostly middle-class, white (74.8 percent), employed, college-educated (75.2 percent) adults who were patients of Kaiser Permanente whether they experienced the following things in childhood: verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, neglect, loss of a parent through death, separation or divorce, having a family member in prison, witnessing violence at home, or living with someone with a mental health issue or a drug or alcohol abuse problem. In order to calculate a person’s ACE score, the researchers gave one point for every category, regardless of the number of instances that occurred within that category. 

Here’s what they found: Almost two thirds (63.9 percent) of the 17,000 adults surveyed experienced one or more ACEs in childhood, while 12.5 percent reported having four or more ACEs. (The ACEs that were most common were physical abuse, living with someone who abused drugs or alcohol, and loss of a parent.)

The researchers, Dr. Vincent Felitti and Dr. Robert Anda, further found that experiencing these ACEs greatly increased the risk of disease and participating in harmful behaviors. They discovered that a person with four or more ACEs had a 160-percent higher chance of having diabetes, 190-percent higher chance of having cancer, 220-percent higher chance of experiencing coronary heart disease, and 240-percent higher chance of experiencing a stroke. Having four or more ACEs also increased a person’s chances of being an alcoholic (by 740 percent), using injection drugs (by 1,030 percent), and attempting suicide (by 1,220 percent). 

Clearly the ACEs study implicates that disease and risky behaviors likely harken back to an adult’s early experiences in childhood, where, shrouded by secrecy, decades later, reappear as forms of disease and addiction. 

For additional information, please visit the following websites: Adverse Childhood Experiences Study on the CDC website, ACEs Too High, and the Center for Youth Wellness. 

Brandy Dougherty

Mental health promotion and prevention coordinator

New Directions Northwest

Baker City

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