Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Inequality isn't about income, it's about decisions

Income inequality is a favorite topic currently. But currently the worst inequality is between people who are successful in life - the middle and upper classes - and the underclass. Sociologists have identified some characteristics which separate these two groups: Wait until marriage to have children and stay married; get a good education; stay out of jail; don't do drugs or abuse alcohol; and, have some sort of a spiritual life. Successful people share most or all of these characteristics; the underclass demonstrates few or none of them.

Progressives claim that pointing out these differences is "blaming the victim," saying that it's their own fault they're poor. But that isn't so; instead it's pointing out that our behaviors have consequences. Mostly this is just common sense. The pregnant high schooler who drops out of school to raise her baby is beginning life with two strikes against her, as is her male counterpart who drops out of school and then does something that gets him locked up. Druggies' and alcoholics' addictions are what land them on skid row.

Now we're talking about averages here. Some individual women are taller than some men, but on average men are taller than women. While some people play by the above rules yet through no fault of their own wind up poor, in general, people's behaviors are a good predictor of whether or not they will be successful in life.

So what can the government do about the extreme income inequality between successful people and the underclass? Very little. As long as there are people who behave in self-destructive ways, there will be an underclass, people about to go under financially for the third and last time. Even if the government were to institute a 100 percent income tax, and then pay every man, woman and child in the country the exact same amount of money, there would still be some who could exist very comfortably on that money while others would constantly run out of money long before they ran out of month.

There are just some tasks which the government is unable to do.

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Fire victim says thank you to all who helped

I want to send out a personal and heartfelt thank you to all of the emergency personnel who responded to the apartment fire at the Blue Ridge Apartments on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Without the quick response of the Baker Rural Fire Department, the Baker City Fire Department, the Baker County Sheriff's Office and the American Red Cross, the fire, loss and damage would have been exponentially worse. I am humbled by the number of personnel who came out and grateful to those who were able to stay into the evening to see that we were safe.

As well, for Chris at the Red Cross, pulling a one-man-show; he was with us all day and then into the night to see that we were all set up and safe at the Oregon Trail Motel. Thank you as well to the hospitality of the staff at the Oregon Trail Motel. Our community is blessed to have such caring and competent people in these positions and my family and I are humbled and grateful. If I forgot anyone, my apologies, it was a bit of a blur that day.

Heather J. Cromwell

Baker City