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home : opinion

Government's disaster response is - disastrous
Remember Katrina? Well, life hasn't changed much when it comes to getting help from the government. Politicians make a speech, declare an emergency and call for a study. In eastern Washington we're at the study stage - see the accompanying story submitted by the State Emergency Operations Center.

Fortunately in the meantime, neighbors and friends in North Central Washington and across the country have reached out to help. The emergency relief center is Pateros has trucks waiting in line to deliver food, clothing, generators and emergency supplies. Meals are being prepared and people are working around the clock to do whatever needs to be done.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 More...

Letters to the Editor
Thursday, July 31, 2014 More...
EPA's carbon pollution rules
Some national business organizations have hammered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for proposing new rules on carbon pollution from existing power plants, cutting carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030, using 2005 levels as a baseline. What planet are they on?

It's ludicrous to pretend that climate change isn't happening, or that it won't affect every industry. It's beyond comprehension that large business advocacy organizations, including the US Chamber of Commerce, think that our government should stand by and do nothing, while climate-related disasters in 2012 caused more than $139 billion in damages, while U.S. taxpayers shelled out $96 billion in climate-related damages in 2012 alone.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 More...
Disaster Assistance and Eastern Washington Wildfires
Assistance provided to date

A proclamation of emergency for the 20 Eastern Washington Counties by Gov. Jay Inslee on July 15 ordered state agencies to assist affected communities and for that assistance to be coordinated through the State Emergency Operations Center. Assistance provided to date includes Washington National Guard helicopters for dropping water and ground troops to assist with fire-fighting and other activities to support affected communities. And acquisition of food, water, supplies, and equipment such as emergency power generators.

At the request of Gov. Inslee, President Obama on July 23 granted an emergency proclamation that provides direct federal assistance to help with emergency power generation for critical facilities. The federal government will pay up to 75 percent for eligible costs. This proclamation is limited in nature, and does not provide for assistance to people whose homes have burned, or for permanent repairs to damaged public infrastructure, for example.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 More...
Supreme Court ruling may strike down Washington state law
By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in Harris v. Quinn that home care workers in Illinois cannot be forced to pay dues to a union they do not wish to join. Home care workers, often family members, provide in-home care for disabled people and receive Medicaid payments administered by the state.

The court ruled that Medicaid beneficiaries and others participating in state entitlement programs are not full-fledged state employees, because they are hired by individuals and work in private homes, and therefore cannot be required to pay union fees against their will.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 More...
Here's one fix for our imperfect marketplace: Paid Leave
As a business person, there is one economics lesson I learn over and over again: The marketplace is essential but not perfect.

It is not perfect in a variety of ways, but a big one is that not everyone can be a winner. 

I don't mean winner in the sense of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. Rather, a winner in the sense of middle class-with access to some discretionary income. 

There are a variety of ways to lose-and they're not all bad. The marketplace creates losers of the inefficient or passé. Or the rich who make poor investments. But some consequences are so awful, such as starvation, that we, as a society, will not accept them. So we have food stamps.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 More...
State asks if Court will fine taxpayers for McCleary response
Circle your calendars for September 3. That is the date we'll start to get a feel for if the state is on a crash course for a full-fledged constitutional crisis or if the respective branches of government will respect the separations of power. The first attempt to back of the current dangerous path was filed last Friday when the state submitted its brief arguing against several proposals to hold the state in contempt concerning its response to the McCleary school funding lawsuit.
Thursday, July 24, 2014 More...
Fire on the mountain creates mountain of need
Fire is an ever present danger here in Eastern Washington and last week we were reminded once again just how sudden and devastating it can be.

Our friends and neighbors in Pateros and Brewster will never be the same after last weeks firestorm wiped out entire neighborhoods in those communities. The good news is no one died. The bad news is many are now homeless.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 More...
Our best insurance policy
Much as we may hate to admit it and don't want to think about it, our burning of fossil fuels and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere increases the greenhouse effect. This results in climate change.

It costs us. Local costs include the loss of agriculture in the Yakima Valley as less summer snow melt is available for irrigation because more winter precipitation falls as rain in a warmer climate. National costs include the billions of dollars the U.S. Government spends annually on imported oil and subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and the trillions of dollars of property value that will be lost as sea level rises, which is subsidized by the National Flood Insurance subsidies.

Thursday, July 17, 2014 More...
Death by government
One of Ronald Reagan's favorite aphorisms was: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

I thought about these words today when I noticed something less usual in America anymore: innovation coupled to a work ethic and a service-minded attitude. This very combination carries millions of Americans to success, or at least it used to before it got 'helped' so much by government.

Thursday, July 17, 2014 More...
Quality of life includes sustainable economic growth
Chelan County Public Utilities officials have been on tour around the county seeking input to their strategic plan. With a powerful video narrated by a young girl, they remind us that half a century ago local people took bold action to build the dams that now provide abundant, cheap and environmentally friendly power. It's a great story of the ability of a free people to work together to build a better life for themselves and the future generations that call this place home.
Thursday, July 17, 2014 More...
Letters to the Editor
Thursday, July 10, 2014 More...
It's time to give college graduates a future with freedom from debt
The U.S. Senate held a vote recently to bring up legislation allowing student debt holders to refinance old loans at lower current interest rates. The motion to debate the "Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act" (S. 2432) garnered a 56-38 majority but fell short of the 60 votes needed to open debate.

Republicans cast 37 of the 38 "no" votes. Only three Republicans joined 53 Democrats and Independents in voting to debate the bill.

For members of the college and high school classes of 2014, and for past graduates, this effort to tackle the student debt issue is sorely needed. For whether their degrees are in math, science, history or English, our graduates are coming out of college schooled in something else entirely: the crushing weight of student loan debt.

Thursday, July 10, 2014 More...
What's a negative interest rate?
The concept of negative interest rates seems so strange. Can a bank actually charge you for depositing money with them? That's not the way it's supposed to work.

Here's another way to look at it: You pay me; I'll keep your money safe. In this era of low interest rates and freaked out investors, that's essentially what savings accounts have become. When you look at it like that, it doesn't seem quite as strange.

No, your local bank isn't going to start charging you to keep money with them anytime soon. Yes, they'll continue to pay you absolutely nothing. But the European Central Bank is taking that a step further by charging a 0.10% interest rate to banks that hold money with them. The idea is simple: By charging the banks to keep their money with the ECB, hopefully the banks won't park their money there. Instead, they'll start putting that money to more economically productive things, like loaning it out.

Thursday, July 10, 2014 More...
Supreme Court takes right turn
In an amazing turn of events it appears the Supreme Court has started to come to its senses and recognize our Constitution is still an important document. Two significant decisions last week have hard line left wingers having heart palpitations.

In one case, the court reigned in the unholy alliance between public sector unions and the Democrat party in the Harris v. Quinn decision saying unions cannot collect dues from "quasi-employees." The case involved a group of home health care workers in Illinois. The "workers" were primarily family members who were being paid with Medicare funds to provide care to disabled family members. The state ruled since they were being paid with state funds they should be considered employees subject to the SEIU union contract covering health care workers and therefore subject to mandatory union dues. The "workers" objected and took the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Thursday, July 10, 2014 More...

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