Punishing poverty

Several days ago, I had the distinct displeasure of overhearing a conversation between two Trump supporters. One phrase in particular caught my attention: “We don’t have a homelessness problem, we have a lifestyle problem.” This statement was couched in a larger conversation which positively assessed Donald Trump’s latest policy of stripping food benefits from counties which have an unemployment rate greater than 6 percent.

Let’s examine both of these positions. The first gentleman clarified to me that if an individual isn’t disabled and is looking for a job, then they should be entitled to full benefits. While that sounds reasonable, both of these men fail to understand the social, economic and environmental pressures which cause poverty and tend to keep people impoverished. Looking for a job is difficult when one doesn’t have transportation, and transportation is hard to come by if one doesn’t have money, and one doesn’t have money if one doesn’t have a job. Let’s also not forget that a county with an unemployment rate of greater than 6 percent is, to begin with, probably not doing well economically. This is a policy of punishing people for poverty.

The second gentleman’s claim was clarified to me again as, “We don’t have a housing problem, we have a lifestyle problem.” This gentleman insisted to me that there are folks who desire poverty and homelessness, and to prove that, he stated that he sees them every day. Let me be extremely clear about this: Nobody wants to be impoverished or homeless.

At the end of the day, conservatives see no problem with the suffering of human beings who are not good economic players. They also misunderstand the causal relationship between poverty and productivity. People that are fed and have a roof over their head tend to be more productive than those who do not. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients who can work, do so.” Additionally, according to Forbes, “99 percent of the benefit dollars were in no way associated with fraud.”

Heartlessness seems to be the conservative brand.

Benjamin Sheppard

Hood River

‘For or against?’

It seems we have no choice but to be “for” or “against” everything these days. Very few seem willing to accept even the slightest possibility that we could be incorrect about anything of consequence. We all put such great thought into our decisions that being wrong is simply not an option.

Are you for or against impeachment? President Trump? Human rights? Black Lives? Blue Lives? The environment? The Wall? National security? Peace?

The votes have been cast revealing that half of all U.S. citizens are all-knowing and brilliant. The other half must therefore be considered ignorant knuckleheads. How can this current situation lead us to a better future?

I feel like omniscience should be left to God and the prophets.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Clean energy now

After Oregon’s Republican senators left their jobs during the last legislative session instead of working on our clean energy needs, we need all of our state representatives ready to show up and produce results on clean energy during the short session beginning Feb. 3.

There is talk already of a possible repeat walkout or other avoidance tactic, despite the urgent need for us as a state to address climate change. Our legislators, all of them, need to hear the clear message that we need and expect robust state legislation to address climate change this legislative session.

Our homes, environment, and livelihoods are already threatened. Our children and grandchildren are rightfully fearful for their futures. Further inaction and/or roadblocking in the state legislature is absolutely unacceptable.

Sen. Chuck Thomsen and Rep. Anna Williams, I urge you to commit to passing meaningful legislation this session to fully transition Oregon to a clean energy economy. We need a firm commitment and a firm delivery date, with clear implementation plans and enforceable benchmarks along the way. Nothing less will move us out of the climate crisis we have collectively created.

Lara Dunn

Hood River

Farewell, Dr. Barbour

Dr. Chris Barbour is leaving Cascade Eye Clinic. He is leaving to follow his dreams to become a professor at Pacific University in Forest Grove.

I have seen Dr. Barbour for years as a patient. Three years ago, I had a traumatic eye injury, a ruptured eyeball and ruptured cornea. Dr. Barbour treated me through this event with the highest level of professional skill and also showed how much he cared for me as a person. What doctor gives you his home phone and cell phone number so you can call him if a serious issue with the damaged eye occurs after hours? That would be Dr. Barbour, who is dedicated to his profession and to his patients.

I am sure the clinic staff will truly miss this doctor, as well as all his patients who see him for their eye care. I will miss him as the doctor who I have had complete confidence in his treatment of my eyes and as a friend. So farewell, Dr. Barbour; you will be missed by all you have touched in your profession. Pacific University will gain a great doctor and a very caring person to train the young individuals to enter his professional field ... I can’t think of a better person to do it.

Timothy Lee

Cascade Locks

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