Letters to the Editor for Feb. 13, 2012

By Baker City Herald readers February 13, 2012 10:15 pm

Ending political polarization

To the editor:

Polarization is apparent in our deadlocked Congress and among the American electorate.  The Left and Right seem to be talking past each other in an atmosphere of mistrust, even outright contempt.  This estrangement was examined in detail in the latest installment of Bill Moyers' excellent new TV show in an episode titled "How Do Conservatives and Liberals See the World?" (at BillMoyers.com).

Economic inequality is an example of a contentious issue that seems to be ignored or minimized by conservatives, but strongly emphasized by liberals and the Occupy Movement.  Here's some information.

The celebrated increase of 240,000 jobs in January doesn't really address the pattern of wage stagnation that began in the early 1980s, when union-busting, computerized automation, and off-shoring good-paying jobs started eroding our once-prosperous middle class. Our economy and worker productivity has grown by 55 percent since then, but 80 percent of all the additional income generated has gone to the top 1 percent.  For the rest of us, two-income families with debt have now replaced the security of families with a single wage-earner and savings accounts for college and retirement.  These conditions worsened with the Great Recession, triggered by irresponsible behavior of unregulated investment bankers.  According to the Associated Press, 48 percent of the U.S. population now falls into the low-income or poverty level of earnings.

In partial response, liberals are proposing increases to historically low income taxes now enjoyed by the wealthy, both to support key components of the social contract for retirement, health, and education, and to reduce the national debt.  Conservatives call instead for even more corporate domination, even lower taxes on millionaire incomes, and even further cuts to government spending.  This, even though government spending at all levels fell by 2.1 percent last year, already dragging down the economy.     

Must we wait for the November elections to resolve this? Or can we find it in our hearts to break through the psychology of separation and find creative, meaningful solutions? Is it possible, for example, to achieve the positive cooperation (and resultant economic boom) we witnessed following World War II? 

I certainly hope and trust that we can.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

Volunteers did so much for kids

To the editor:

Department of Human Services would like to thank everyone that donated time and supplies to create 249 scrapbook pages for life story books for our foster children.

We would also like to thank all the people and businesses that were willing to donate door prizes and food. Thank you for making a difference in a child's life!

 Theresa Dent

Community Development Coordinator, Oregon Department of Human Services, District 13