I wrote an open letter to President Obama chiding him for focusing on the deficit and not paying attention to jobs. To my surprise, I just received an answer. And in all fairness, I must say that he has done quite a bit about the job situation in spite of the opposition from Republicans in the House and the Senate.
Following is a list of the things done to create jobs and to help the unemployed that he cited in his letter:
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; The Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act; The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010.
The letter also mentions legislation to help small businesses with tax breaks and better access to credit. And he also mentions extensions of COBRA benefits to help people with health care when they lose their jobs.
To encourage job creation in the United States, he says he is replacing tax laws that send jobs overseas with new incentives to create them here at home. His administration is also helping Americans return to work by emphasizing job training in industries that cannot be outsourced.
Also, he wrote, recently laid-off workers receiving unemployment benefits have new opportunities to pursue higher education and job training programs, including easier access to Pell Grants. Available assistance may be found online at http://gousa.gov/aU7 or at www.Opportunity.gov or at www.CareerOneStop.org; or call 877-872-5627.
I hope this information, straight from the president's office, will help some of you who are still looking for jobs. And I hope that this will also encourage President Obama's supporters (like myself) become more supportive.
His is not an easy job under the best of conditions, and the conditions that he has been up against have been unprecedented.
Unless I am wrong, on Cascade Street by the post office, just below the handicapped parking where the limit is for 10 minutes, the first spot below the handicap space is free all day.
It needs to be enforced.
Sign of hope
Here's to Gary Bencke, whose memorial was here in Cascade Locks Friday. Attending were Parkrose High School friends, neighbors, a fellow artist, other book lovers and his caregivers. The tales shared made us smile and glad to have known him.
Gary lived here for probably 30 years and touched us in different ways. He loved his dogs, books, his works of art; and he had an uncanny knack of salesmanship. He liked to discuss sports and politics and was known to put signs in his yard to express his views of the city's administration.
He discussed issues with more than one city council person, and it led to friendships between them. They didn't always agree, but they respected one another; what an example for us all.
At his memorial sharing a meal were folks from both "sides," sitting across the tables and side-by-side, showing no animosity to one another. Upon leaving, both "sides" were shaking hands or giving hugs.
Is it a sad commentary on life or a sign of hope that friends and neighbors on both "sides" met in a respectful manner to honor his passing? For me, it's a sign of hope.
On the corner of Venture and WaNaPa is a bench with Gary's favorite greeting, "It's a wonderful day in Cascade Locks," and he believed that. Thanks, Gary, for being you and giving us back the feeling of a community, hopefully not just for an afternoon.
I am deeply moved by the comments of ex-presidents Bush and Clinton, and Vice President Biden at the United Flight 93 memorial dedication on Saturday. They described ordinary Americans, who with no preparation and facing certain death, acted as one to decisively thwart the threat to the seat of our government and the people who work and live there.
This seems disconnected from what I am experiencing every day. I see members of Congress, while unwilling to risk the slightest political advantage or a dollar of support, single-mindedly seeking re-election rather than acting as statesmen and doing the job that we elected them to do - solve the pressing problems facing our country.
I see advantaged Americans, who benefited enormously from their imprudent bets laid within the investment banking industry. While their actions parlayed into the largest deflation of the American economy since the Great Depression, they are going to great lengths to avoid paying taxes rather than supporting efforts to repair the damage to our economy that they caused.
I see middle-class Americans who refuse to look and see that their wealth is being siphoned away by executives of large corporations whose cost-cutting actions actually reduce our competitiveness even as their own fortunes swell. Isn't it strange that our tax code supports their actions rather than encourage them to face the global economy using American talent to out-think, out-invent and out-produce our global competition?
If 40 ordinary Americans can do what they did over Shanksville, why can't the rest of us, with no personal risk, join together and do whatever it takes to save our economy and more?
I say, "Let's roll." Call, write, email, Twitter or Facebook your reps and let them know what your priorities are and where your vote will go. Sign petitions to demand congressional action or even constitutional amendments to create a barrier between the Congress and special-interest handouts that contaminate legislation and control our elections.
Texas is experiencing the most severe drought and the longest continuous high temperatures in their recorded history. Wildfires are burning out of control. Rivers and lakes are drying. Aquifers are being bled. Agricultural losses run into the billions of dollars.
Gov. Rick Perry denies that climate change is occurring. He declares that if he is president he will prevent any attempt to address the issue of global warming. His solution to Texas' problem is to pray for rain.
Why the climate change deniers? In the face of good science that not only establishes that change is occurring and why it is occurring, why do they continue to deny these truths?
There are probably many reasons to deny this reality. Two stand out.
One is that corporations that exploit and use "big energy" - petroleum, coal, big transportation, power generation based on fuels - and their CEOs will lie to protect their assets. In this they are like American tobacco companies that lied to us for decades about the dangers of smoking.
And many governmental representatives, including Rick Perry, whose campaigns were supported by the above economic forces, will be climate change deniers. (As Mollie Ivans put it, "You have to dance with them that brung you.")
The other major reason is misinformation in this age of delusion. "Big Energy" can buy enough media to "brainwash" a significant part of the population. To those deniers, I suggest you inform yourselves. Read "Scientific American" and "American Scientist"; review books by Stephen Schneider, Bill McKibben, Lester Brown and Christian Parent; look into reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Only as an informed public can we fight against those economic forces that have and will destroy the quality of the climate as we know it. We can communicate with our representatives in government, letting them know we see through these damaging fabrications that deny climate change. It is important that we let our representative know that we must have clean energy.