The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, August 04, 2015, Image 4

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

America’s un-Greek tragedies
Founded in 1873
STEPHEN A. FORRESTER, Editor & Publisher
LAURA SELLERS, Managing Editor
BETTY SMITH, Advertising Manager
CARL EARL, Systems Manager
JOHN D. BRUIJN, Production Manager
DEBRA BLOOM, Business Manager
HEATHER RAMSDELL, Circulation Manager
Long live the festivals
Astoria Regatta is revived. Will
the Music Festival survive?
he passing of another edition of the Clatsop County Fair
is a reminder of the vitality of our rural agricultural cul-
ture. Last week our photographer Joshua Bessex evoked the
sights, smells and sounds of the fair. It is a delight to discover
a new generation of boys and girls who are raising animals
through the 4-H program. The fair is also a window on the
home grown culinary and ¿ber arts.
If the fair has passed, the Astoria
Regatta cannot be far behind. The
signature event — the Grand Land
Parade — is Saturday. Not that
long ago, the Regatta was on hard
times, as its leadership waned. The
Astoria chef Peter Roscoe took the
lead in reviving the festival’s lead-
ership. This year Kevin Leahy has
a major hand in running things.
We take the operations of our
festivals for granted until they hit
a rock. After some years of main-
taining the festival’s direction, the
absence of Lektro President Eric
Paulson caused an earthquake.
That’s when Roscoe arrived. It is
not unusual for a festival as old as
Regatta — over 100 years — to
have a break in smooth sailing. The
Pendleton Round-Up, 105 years
old, had its lean leadership years.
Now we are witnessing a sim-
ilar, but more tentative transi-
tion in a much younger fete, the
Astoria Music Festival. That top-
ic was alive in last week’s Friday
Exchange section.
Whether or not the conductor
Keith Clark has another festival
in him — without funded profes-
sional management — the festival
is approaching a post-Clark era,
whether he and his supporters will
admit or plan for that. The longer it
is postponed, the more likely that
the music festival will become the
responsibility of another organiza-
These festivals — Scandinavian,
music, county fair and Regatta —
feed our regional economy. They
also make our culture richer.
Long may they live.
Traf¿c fatalities
deserve action
Deadly highways shouldn’t
come as surprise
e as a local society manage
to rationalize or gloss over
the individual traf¿c fatalities that
occur with alarming frequency in
Clatsop County. So our story last
week ¿nding such deaths here
between 2004 and 2014 is excep-
tionally attention-grabbing. This is
a horrifying statistic that deserves
The deadliness of our highways
— particularly U.S. Highway 101
and U.S. Highway 30 — shouldn’t
come as a surprise. Just a few
years ago, a similar analysis of
the decade that ended Dec. 31,
2009 found a similarly disturbing
death toll. Over at least the past 15
years, the density per mile of fa-
tal accidents between Astoria and
Rainier on Highway 30 resembles
that on the Interstate 5, which has
far heavier traf¿c. Highway 2 is
almost as bad, as is Highway 101.
One of the pragmatic uses of
such information is to identify par-
ticularly dangerous intersections
or other highway hazards. Last
year, crash statistics led the Oregon
Department of Transportation
to name a -mile stretch of U.S.
Highway 101 from Camp Rilea
Armed Forces Training Center to
Surf Pines Lane as a priority safety
improvement project. Getting the
work done depends on funding.
The majority of fatal accidents
in Clatsop County aren’t caused by
faulty roads, but by drivers trav-
eling too fast for conditions and
straddling or crossing the center-
line, according to crash data. This
comes as no surprise to anyone
here. It is common to observe mo-
torists traveling 0 mph or more
in 55 mph zones, particularly on
Highways 30 and 2. Add to this
the fact that there are many curves
and it’s easy to see why vehicles
sometimes stray from their own
lanes. Weekenders in a hurry to
get here and residents in a hurry to
get to Portland appointments take
dangerous chances every day of
the year.
It is a mystery why the statistics
reported last week do not make
any reference to alcohol and drug
impairment as a factor. Crashes
reported in The Daily Astorian
certainly sometimes indicate such
Getting into the heart of the
matter from a public policy stand-
point, one of the greatest single
contributors to these deaths is lack
of adequate law enforcement. This
isn’t necessarily a criticism of lo-
cal Oregon State Police, who pre-
sumably do the best they can with
the resources at hand. But speed-
ing and other forms of dangerous
driving are not getting enough at-
tention, perhaps for want of suf¿-
cient funding.
Cross the bridge into Paci¿c
County, Wash., and try traveling
to South Bend or Longview go-
ing 0 mph. Speed enforcement
is far more intense. People up to
and including Bill Gates have been
ticketed. Whatever Washington
state is doing, it is more effective
than Oregon in averting high-
way fatalities. Looking at 2013,
in Washington there was one fatal
for every 1,000 residents, while
in Oregon it was one per 12,500.
(Both were safer than the nation-
wide rate of about one fatal per
9,00 residents.
These aren’t meaningless data
points, but human beings who
came to sudden, violent ends. They
were fathers, mothers, daughters
and sons. They leave rending gaps
in survivors’ lives.
If these deaths were from ban-
ditry, heroin overdoses or gunshot
wounds, it would be an infamous
scandal warranting a massive in-
vestigation. The senseless loss of
innocent people on our roads de-
serves an equally strong response.
between Puerto Rico and the
mainland use U.S. ships, raising
transportation costs even further.
Puerto Rico, then, is in the
n Friday the government
of Puerto Rico announced wrong place at the wrong time.
But here’s the thing: while the
that it was about to miss a island’s economy has declined
bond payment. It claimed that sharply, its population, while
for technical legal reasons this hurting, hasn’t suffered anything
wouldn’t be a default, but that’s like the catastrophes we see in
Europe. Look, for example, at
a distinction without a differ- consumption per capita, which
has fallen 30 percent in Greece
So is Puerto Rico America’s but has actually continued to rise
Greece? No, it isn’t, and it’s import- in Puerto Rico. Why have the human
ant to understand why.
consequences of economic troubles
Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis is ba- been muted?
sically the byproduct of a severe
The main answer is that Puerto
economic downturn. The common- Rico is part of the U.S. ¿scal union.
wealth’s government was slow to When its economy faltered, its pay-
adjust to the worsening fundamen- ments to Washington fell, but its
tals, papering over the problem receipts from Washington — Social
with borrowing. And now it has hit Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and
the wall.
more — actually rose. So Puerto
What went wrong? There was Rico automatically received aid on
a time when the island did quite a scale beyond anything conceivable
well as a manu-
in Europe.
facturing center,
Is Puerto Rico’s
boosted in part by
status as part of the
a special federal
U.S. all good? A
tax break. But that with Europe,
recent report com-
tax break expired
missioned by the
in 200, and in
any case changes
government argues
in the world econ-
that its economy
omy have worked
hugely from is hurt by sharing
the U.S. minimum
having an
wage, which rais-
es costs, and also
manufacturing fa-
by federal bene-
vors either very-
¿ts that encourage
low-wage nations,
adults to drop out
or locations close
of the workforce.
budget —
to markets that can
In principle these
but it’s not
complaints could
of short logistic
be right. In partic-
chains to respond
ular, even econo-
quickly to chang-
mists who support
enough to
ing conditions. But
a higher U.S. mini-
Puerto Rico’s wag-
mum wage, myself
deal with
es aren’t low by
included, generally
really big
global standards.
agree that it could
And its island lo-
be a problem if set
cation puts it at a
too high relative to
disadvantage com-
productivity — and
pared not just with
Puerto Rican pro-
the U.S. mainland
ductivity is far be-
but with places like the north of low mainland levels.
Mexico, from which goods can be
But the evidence that minimum
quickly shipped by truck.
wages or social bene¿ts are really a
The situation is, unfortunate- problem is, as one careful if older
ly, exacerbated by the Jones Act, study put it, “surprisingly fragile.”
which requires that goods traveling Notably, Puerto Rico’s low rate of
New York Times News Service
labor force partic-
ipation probably
has more to do
with outmigration
than with welfare:
When job oppor-
tunities dry up,
young, able-bodied
workers move else-
where, while the
least employable
stay in place. You
see the same phe-
nomenon in Appa-
lachia, where the disappearance of
coal-mining jobs has induced many
workers to leave, while the remain-
ing population makes heavy use of
the social safety net.
And how terrible is that, really?
The safety net is there to protect
people, not places. If a region-
al economy is left stranded by the
shifting tides of globalization, well,
that’s going to happen now and
then. What’s important is that work-
ers be able to ¿nd opportunities
somewhere, and that those unable
for whatever reason to take advan-
tage of these opportunities be pro-
tected from extreme hardship.
There is, of course, the problem
of maintaining public services for
those who remain. Compared with
Europe, America bene¿ts hugely
from having an integrated nation-
al budget — but it’s not integrat-
ed enough to deal with really big
regional shocks. And Puerto Rico
faces some risk of a death spiral
in which the emigration of work-
ing-age residents undermines the
tax base for those who are left, and
deteriorating public services then
lead to even more emigration.
What this tells us, in turn, is that
even for a part of the United States,
too much austerity can be self-de-
feating. It would, in particular, be a
terrible idea to give the hedge funds
that have scooped up much of Puerto
Rico’s debt what they want — ba-
sically to destroy the island’s edu-
cation system in the name of ¿scal
Overall, however, the Puerto Ri-
can story is one of bad times that
fall well short of utter disaster. And
the saving grace in this situation is
big government — a federal system
that provides a crucial safety net for
American citizens in times of need,
wherever they happen to live.
Our sex-obsessed Congress
“The last time you
the Planned Parenthood
videos, if you’re infu-
had sex, did you use a
riated by abortion, you
condom?” asks Courtney
should be channeling
o appreciate the dumbing Pate, a nurse practitioner.
more money to Title X,
down of American politics, China shakes her head.
not less.
Pate hands her a bag
consider this: Conservative of condoms and warns
Since 190, inÀa-
Republicans, indignant about her that if she doesn’t use
tion-adjusted spending on
Title X family planning
abortion, are trying to destroy a one every time, she risks
has fallen by two-thirds.
government program that helps
Now the House proposes
“like not being able to
prevent 345,000 abortions a have a baby when you
eliminating it altogether,
while the Senate propos-
want to.” Pate also grills
Inevitably in politics there are her on whether she has
es a 10 percent cut.
good ideas and bad ideas. But oc- told her sexual partners about the
This in a country where half
casionally there are also moronic infections and whether they are of all pregnancies are unintend-
ed, where 30 percent of American
ideas - such as the House Republi- getting treated.
can proposal to kill America’s main
When Pate steps out for a mo- teenage girls become pregnant by
family planning program, Title X.
ment, I ask China if her boyfriend age 19.
The Guttmacher Institute, which
The upshot would be more will accept condoms. China looks
pregnancies, more abortions, more doubtful and says, “Maybe.” Pate studies reproductive health, calcu-
AIDS, more sexually transmitted overhears and comes roaring back. lates that Title X family planning
infections and more women dying “If he doesn’t wear a condom, he centers prevent about 1 million
of cervical and breast cancer. End- doesn’t get any sex,” Pate declares. unintended pregnancies a year, of
ing the program would impoverish “These are the rules: No condoms, which 345,000 would have ended
in abortion. It says that every year
young mothers and impede the for- no sex.”
mation of stable two-parent fami-
China tells me she doesn’t have Title X clinics avert some 53,000
lies that conservatives rightly argue any other way of getting birth con- cases of chlamydia and 8,800 cases
help overcome poverty.
trol or treatment for sexually trans- of gonorrhea, and save the lives of
mitted diseases. 1,100 women who would otherwise
that House Re-
Without this clin- die of cervical cancer.
In other words, Title X prevents
publicans are try-
ic, she says, she
ing to eliminate
might well be an abortion about once every 90
pregnant and be seconds.
Family planning investments
bipartisan initia-
spreading infec-
also offer hedge fund-like returns,
tive that is one
of the country’s
China for a condom or IUD can avert more
also offer
anti-poverty suc-
leaves, Pate cau- than $12,000 in average Medicaid
hedge fund-
cesses — and also
tions her again: spending on a childbirth. Guttmach-
perhaps America’s
“Somebody says, er calculates that every $1 invested
like returns,
most successful
‘Let’s have sex in public family planning services
anti-abortion ini- for a condom
without a con- saves $ in public expenditures.
dom,’ you say, This is a program that saves money
Title X began
‘No, I don’t want as well as lives.
or IUD can
Opponents of Title X preen and
in a Republican
any needles in my
avert more
butt! I don’t want moralize, even as their behavior
that of Richard
to see that crazy has dreadfully immoral conse-
Today, than $12,000
lady in the clinic quences. Conservatives empha-
size that poverty is often linked
4,100 clinics sup-
ported by Title
I also met to personal irresponsibility. Are
X provide fami-
Doretta, who after youths like China irresponsible
ly planning and
a pelvic exam at when they have sex without a con-
spending on
also often test for
the clinic received dom? Sure they are! They’re kids.
HIV, cure sexually
a diagnosis of What’s harder to understand is
a childbirth.
transmitted infec-
possible cervical the irresponsibility of Republican
tions and screen
cancer. The good House members.
My question to them: Do you re-
for cervical and
news is that it was
breast cancer.
found early and was treated, and she ally want to increase the odds that
kids like China will get pregnant,
I visited a Title X clinic in Bal- is expected to be ¿ne.
timore. Republican members of the
Title X isn’t directly related will spread disease, will become
House, this is what you’re trying to to the furor over video footage impoverished single mothers, will
showing Planned Parenthood staff get mired in a cycle of poverty, will
A tall 1-year-old girl, nicknamed members speaking cavalierly about get abortions — or will die of breast
China (she doesn’t know why; she’s fetal tissues; the Republican ef- or cervical cancer — and do you re-
not Chinese, is being treated for fort to eliminate Title X goes back ally think this is moral behavior to
gonorrhea and chlamydia.
much earlier. To those offended by be proud of?
New York Times News Service