Have the doomsayers of global warming made you uneasy about impending droughts, famine and costal flooding? Forget about it.
Congress fixed the flooding problem in 1968 with National Flood Insurance. It had two parts. One part helped people with flood losses. The other part limited development in flood-prone areas. People knew the risks and wanted to live by the water anyway. So congress withdrew the limits on low-lying development. Thus, for 50 years the taxpayer has been underwriting flood damage. So forget about it.
Regarding drought and famine, American agriculture is so astonishingly bountiful that we convert a huge corn crop to ethanol. This is then burned as motor fuel at a loss to the taxpayer. So forget about it.
Carbon fighting and climate fixing is a fool’s errand fit only for bullies and the people they frighten. So forget about it.
Support firefighter bill
Another traumatic fire season may be over — but now it’s time to voice support for our local federal firefighters. I would like to encourage valley residents to write or call our federal representative, Dan Newhouse, to encourage him to sponsor and vote for the bipartisan house bill, “Tim Hart Wildland Firefighter Classification and Pay Parity Act.” This bill will provide long-overdue changes to the federal firefighting pay classes, benefits, and re-classification from forestry technician to wildland firefighter.
Wildland firefighters face enormous physical and mental risks in their jobs, not only the direct danger of being on the fire line, but also a higher risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases and, tragically, it is a profession with one of the highest rates of suicide. Federal wildland firefighters have a starting wage of about $13 an hour, and begin as temporary, seasonal hires, meaning they do not accrue retirement benefits or year-long health insurance. Pay does not rise quickly despite years of service and substantial knowledge and skills.
Year after year, the Methow has seen the devastating impacts of climate change-driven wildfires, and firefighters work tirelessly to keep our community safe. Locally, these are the same folks that can’t afford to live here anymore. It’s not just a Methow problem — there is currently an exodus of wildland firefighters from the profession due to lack of pay, benefits and support. There were several hundred unfilled firefighting positions in the U.S. Forest Service this summer, several were right here in Winthrop.
This bill is a crucial step toward properly compensating and supporting the people that keep us safe and allow us to live in the fire-prone paradise that is the Methow Valley. Let’s voice support for our local wildlife firefighters and call or email Rep. Dan Newhouse today!
What is the common good?
A community by its very nature must foster inclusiveness and consider the welfare of all its members. And as I see this community starting to become more divisive and discriminating, dividing us up into us and them yet again, I feel strongly the need to speak out.
When local businesses start saying who can be served and who can come into their businesses and who cannot, it is not only not good business, hurting the bottom line, but it fosters us and them division in the community. Have we withdrawn from the idea of the greater good?
When the prospective ski hill was the community divider more than three decades ago, a number of local businesses had signs to keep out people opposed to that ski hill. At that time, a group of us was working to start Confluence Gallery and a main intention in doing so was to bring the valley together. And the name “confluence” means coming together.
And now I see this separation happening again. The terrified will stay home in any case, a personal decision, but seeing businesses starting to discriminate again makes me wonder how far we have actually come toward being a real community.
Our local economy is important. Our mutual support is important, including letting each of us make our own personal decisions. But seeing fear destroying the common good is something I hoped to never have to witness again. Are we here for each other or aren’t we?