Day: June 21, 2013

Grow but save farmlands

The importance of agriculture in our area is apparent the moment one drives a few miles north or east of Keizer—especially in the summer months. Thousands of acres of prime farm land is bursting with the crops of the season, berries, nuts, wheat and many other products. Marion County offers consumers the world over a bounty of quality food that families have grown for generations. Some see all that acreage and dream of residential and commercial development. But for the grace of the late Governor Tom McCall the fear of a continuous metropolitan sprawl from Portland to Salem could be a reality today. Just as McCall and state legislators 40 years ago understood the importance of sustainable use of our land, we must continue to be the heirs of that legacy. While we can’t stop progress—and we wouldn’t want to—we can certainly be the masters of our destiny. That is no ordained notion that development needs to encroach on Oregon’s birthright of some of the finest agricultural land in the nation. The Willamette Valley may not produce as many pounds of farm products as California’s San Joaquin Valley, but our goods are as prized for their quality. Keizer’s Housing Needs Analysis calls for the city’s population to grow by over 10,000 people within 20 years. The city has three choices: grow up, grow out or grow not at all....

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At the mayoral summit

To the Editor: A few weeks ago I was invited to, and attended an informal “summit” meeting of the titular heads of their respective communities: our own Mayor Lore Christopher, and Sheila Stuart of Cambridge England (who just ended her second mayoral term). This was pretty much a gimme for me as I have the pride of being Sheila’s father and have been able to observe her unambiguity of purpose as she journeys through life.  The visit put me in mind to attempt a comparative study of some of the similarities and differences of the respective governances we live under. I had just finished reading Bill Moyers’ On Democracy and was astounded to learn that American congressional legislature tolerates the activities of apparently limitless numbers of political lobbyists, many of whom are former legislators. The political action committees choose these folks as they are intimately familiar with congressional procedures and many of the legislators themselves. In Moyers’ 6-year old book, he had estimated the number of lobbyists  at that time to have exceeded 16 per legislator with funding by the corporations of more than $12 billion that year. I had asked Sheila whether that means of persuasion of purpose was allowed in Parliament. Earlier she had been invited by her party wonks to sit in on sessions of Parliament. They were probably curious as to whether they should try...

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Smartphones lead to dumb choices

By DON VOWELL It is now fairly certain that smartphones are the cause of nearly every problem in America.  That includes financial, driving, educational, workroom, health and social problems. First things first.  If you are checking your phone you are not multi-tasking, you are checking your phone.  Neuroscientists say there is no multi-tasking—you are quickly switching focus.  The time you lose flitting back and forth is called “switching loss.” A California State University professor decided to research the study habits of 263 students of varying ages in their own “ideal” study habitats.  This group, fully aware that they were being observed, made only about two minutes on average before stopping to send a text, or use some form of social media.  About 65 percent of their time in total was used to study, and retention was lowered.  Education is not being helped by smartphones. Not much needs to be said about smartphones and driving.  Everybody reading this has likely had to wait behind a phone user that’s failed to notice the light is now green.  Again, if you are checking your phone you are not driving. At elementary schools a phone would be confiscated if a student began checking it in class.  I bet most employers would really like to have that policy.  How much wages are paid each day to employees checking Facebook, texting, or tweeting?  I hope...

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Would libertarianism work in the U.S.?

By GENE H. McINTYRE There are quite a number of self-proclaimed libertarians as federal and state government office-holders these days.  Since so many Americans vote them as their representatives in capitals across the nation as well as D.C., it is wondered to what extent those voters know what political philosophy and related objectives these people seek to establish for this nation. Defined, libertarians possess the virtue of a clear creed: They believe in the smallest government possible and view anything government does —beyond protecting people from violence, theft and enforcing contract—is illegitimate. That means that such government programs as public schools and colleges, state and federal agencies established for the many purposes they serve Americans,  environmental regulation, food stamps, and a whole host of others upon which millions of Americans depend for their very survival, would not exist under libertarian rule. We would, by that government design, be characterized by a deep suspicion of authority, the strong belief that organizations are suspect, a fervent devotion to transparency, and the assumption that individual preference or  individual liberty is supreme.  Under it, for the most part, each individual/family unit would be on his/its own and would survive or perish by inherited wealth and the good fortune or luck of their individual, enterprising successes. What’s come of this thinking and dreaming about “perfection” through pure liberty is that it is highly unlikely...

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