Thursday, January 31, 2008

The New Junkies

It is somewhat frightening when one considers the unhealthy diet that most Americans have adopted these days. Incidents of obesity and diabetes are drastically on the rise to the point where these two conditions are becoming something most Americans have to look forward to, and all to often it is a condition that manifests itself in children in middle school and high school.

Though diabetes can now be controlled pretty well with medical intervention the underlying fact is that it will one day it will kill those with the condition. They may go blind. Circulation problems may one day cause them to lose a leg or two. Their kidneys may eventually fail.

Just because you can eat something it doesn’t make it food. Products that are bad for you are priced to encourage those with little money to buy them. Just because you can buy something is a grocery store doesn’t mean they should be eaten.

What would happen if certain unhealthy foods that lack useful nutrition to humans were excluded from eligibility for payment with food stamps? If you were on food stamps and suddenly faced with the fact that you can no longer buy snack cakes wouldn’t you consider providing fruit for a snack to your family instead?

It is difficult to change the shopping habits of people, but if we were to give a responsible nudge to those on a budget to make better choices, we could help prevent diet based disease down the road which will lessen the burden of the tax payers.

It may sound easy on the surface, but you can bet that Hostess and Frito Lay will lobby this action to death. They may even add vitamins to their products to make them more food like, but nothing they can do can possibly turn that stuff into food.

If food stamps were only able to buy unprocessed meat, eggs, bread, dairy, fruits and vegetables; an epidemic health crisis among the poor may be stopped and reversed.

How about if we take this a little further? How about making it so school lunch rooms are only allowed to vend unprocessed nutritious food. The government runs or subsidizes all sorts of food programs across the country. It’s amazing when you consider just how many there are out there from Head Start to VA Hospitals. Everyone in the military has to eat. It would be to the long term advantage of the government to stop pushing processed foods.

I understand that there are those who will say the government should get out of the free meal business, but the fact is that will never happen, and even if it does move food responsibility over to one of the “thousand points of light”, the government still has oversight and control of what is placed into the mouths of recipients. They need to lead the way to get America off junk.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sea Fog Threatens Livelihood of Coastal Community Once Again

Over 2,000 ships lie scattered at the mouth of the Columbia River. Each holding crews between 10 to 300, their people dead, or if lucky merely their livelihoods destroyed as they pulled themselves out of the raging surf, many remaining on the shores shipwrecked, struggling to stay alive. The Pacific Graveyard is littered with the bones of many a nautical old timer, sage captains and novice deck boys alike, blinking lights luring the desperate to what appeared to be safe shore; sea fog shrouding shifting sands, sharp rocks, and crashing waves. Too late, the desperate found the false lights belonging to Wreckers, far worse than pirates, using the fog and lights for the Wreckers’ devices. In the end the Wreckers’ pockets full, the desperates’ pockets as empty as their eyes.

Long gone are the days when fog would ground the fleets and leave this community dependent on its capricious whims for its economic survival. We no longer need to worry about fog, our economy diversified and growing. No false lights of Wreckers luring us astray. A storm blowing means we depend on our neighbor for a borrowed hammer, a shared generator, a pot of coffee and a game of gin rummy. But now, once again, a forecast of an unnatural event has come in and it isn't the winds we have to worry about, nor the frozen pipes.

While the weather man is predicting icy blasts of Nordic frost for the area this weekend we heard a blanket of fog, its tendrils weaving up from the blinking lights of the Cannery Pier Hotel, quietly blanketing the nooks and crannies of the city, filling some heads with doubt and others with visions of undeserved grandeur. The fog seems to have entered the minds of many, and, like the psychedelic mushrooms that grow so well in many areas of the damp rain forest, causing them to believe they are the center of the universe and all must bend to their will or suffer the dire consequences.

The Son of Sam’s 4-123 has begun its labor pains. It is hoped that it is premature, coming much too early to be saved. In attendance, ripping it from its womb, are the wet nurses of the Columbia Pacific Alliance for Social Justice. Justice, to their mind, can best be served, by depriving the constituents of their right to allow their duly elected commissioner from serving out his term. They want him recalled and to have someone appointed in his place, their plan enforced, their agenda addressed, or consequences must be suffered, by all.

That’s right, appointed. Those living in district three won’t be allowed to vote for someone to replace their commissioner; they merely get to vote to toss him. Then this Group (they have designated themselves a group with a capital “G”), who have already threatened the remaining commissioners with similar retaliation if crossed, will continue their goal of dominating the board -and our county- with their will, their say, their vision. This they have avowed on their website.

Is their vision good? Is it bad? Who is to say? We won’t get a chance to VOTE on it to know, ever. In the back of our minds will be the knowledge if we don’t vote as the Group tells us in their daily paper, they will recall the person we voted for, and they will appoint the person they intended to win.

Clatsop Citizens For Open Government, CCFOG, are rolling the fog over our heads. This is their vision of open government. Telling us ahead of time, tongue in cheek, that the fog is coming. Blowing their horn, waving their lanterns, laughing at us. They have no intention of opening up the government process, their intention is to close it down. They have ninety days to do it. Friday and Saturday, January 25th & 26th are their target dates but they can drag it out until April 22nd. It is no mistake their acronym can be pronounced sea fog. Their intent is death for our community (our consequence for an earlier defiance?), left to fend for ourselves as the shipwrecked once did, and profitable only for their chosen few.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The New Face of Clatsop County

The face of a community is important. For many that is one of the reasons they oppose LNG corporations putting even one terminal on the lower part of the river, it ruins the face of the community, in their mind.

For many the Riverwalk in Astoria is the face of the community, showing an eclectic community, loving the outdoors with an artistic bent. There are those who still cling to the days of yore looking wistfully to the mooring basins, in their minds eye each berth full of fishing vessels or looking out to the river where rafts of logs from old timber stands are gently pushed to market by tugs.

With a shudder many of us turn our faces from a spreading mall, the word making our shoulders shrug and noses lift. What is the face of Seaside? Cannon Beach? All of it is Clatsop County and whatever face you don’t want certainly you do want it to have one, or even two or three. So, have you googled our county lately? If a business has, they won’t be pleasantly surprised.

We now have a new face of being unprepared for disaster. You felt proud of our abilities during the storm? Not the Daily A! Suddenly, after 200 years of sustaining all sorts of disasters and catastrophes, it has dawned on our daily paper and one of our commissioners that our disaster mitigation plan isn’t finished yet. Funny, it wasn’t finished after last year’s storm, (or the year before that or that or that) but our lone commissioner that’s publicly bitching out the county manager while posing for the editor of the Daily A, didn’t notice the lack of the mitigation plan then. No one had. Why? Because, it really doesn’t matter, all that much, in the grand scheme of things.

Will a project or two have to wait to get funding? Possibly, but so will half a dozen others for lack of something else. It’s not that big of a deal, because it was already being taken care of and no one thought it was a big deal until the Daily A manufactured the story. What is a big deal is when the area’s only daily newspaper writes it up as a big news story and puts it out on the Associated Press as a big news story and suddenly, that is what Clatsop County is known for. How many businesses will want to move to the area if they think they will be hampered with costly building delays while waiting for mitigation plans to be put into place? Thank-you, Daily Astorian, for manufacturing the news and giving our area its new face. It wouldn’t be so bad if the news was real and it was an actual problem to be contemplated and resolved, but the fact that it’s being made up is irksome.

This is the same paper bemoaning the county commissioners approving zone changes for LNG corporations to move in. It seems that this newspaper’s editor doesn’t want any growth, any new businesses or industry whatsoever, and it will do its best to make sure growth doesn’t happen whether it means maligning individuals or a county as a whole.

What is ironic is not so long ago the Daily Astorian’s editor complained, "Deceit is in the saddle. The Wall Street Journal too frequently carries business news that befits a supermarket tabloid. Our president is using deceit for the third time in his career to smear an election opponent. We stand on the edge of a very slippery precipice.” One wonders how he looks in the mirror when he shaves in the morning.