dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog

Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

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Housing Affordability Plans Won’t Work; Focus Instead on Civic Pride

May 10th, 2019 by dk
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Eugene cannot remedy its affordable housing shortage for one simple reason. We won’t allow it. The only sure solutions — rent controls or endless subsidies — give government more control than we will surrender.

If affordability was all that mattered, a simple solution would be obvious. Start storing toxic waste downtown. Cheap housing would appear overnight, along with a few high-paying government jobs for people willing to wear hazmat suits. Simple isn’t always good.

Fortunately, city officials can encourage a broad spectrum of housing options by doing less than they are doing now. Loosening regulations slowly and watching how builders and buyers respond could go a long way toward promoting the sustainable infill that we say we desire.

The question then becomes, “How can we be sure market forces don’t move too quickly, upsetting what current residents value about their neighborhood’s character?” It’s a fair question, but, again, most easy answers invite heavy-handed government controls.

We’re back to the same conundrum. How do we guarantee citizens a wide array of housing choices without giving government officials Soviet-style authority to do the choosing for us?

It seems we have only two choices in this funhouse of residential economics — the roller coaster of market-driven pricing, or the merry-go-round of competing ideals. Either one will make your stomach churn if you can’t step away and clear your head for a while. Ready to try something completely different?

Here it comes: participatory budgeting projects.

These projects can create wonderfully unique points of neighborhood pride. If people want to stay where they are, market forces won’t tempt them to sell to higher bidders. Gentrification slows or stops completely. Neighborhoods become more resilient. I’ve seen it work in Rennes, France’s largest college town.

It could work like this. City leaders devote one-tenth of one percent of its general fund to participatory budgeting projects. That pot of money, $344,000, would be spread across Eugene’s 23 neighborhood association boundaries.

Each neighborhood would receive $15,000. How will residents spend that money to improve local livability and enhance neighborhood character? Proposals would come from residents, and it could be for anything at all.

A panel would vet each proposal, reviewing budget constraints, legal liabilities, and verifying technical qualifications. That’s the extent of government oversight, except to arrange a street fair where each neighborhood chooses which project they want funded.

This is done by giving every resident a bag of beans to be used in the voting. They can give a few beans to every project or they can give all their beans to the one they like best. A simple kitchen scale weighs the results at the end of the fair, and the funded project proceeds.

A neighborhood in Rennes loves its notable birdsong at dusk and dawn, so residents funded a birdhouse, outfitted with a microphone inside and a solar-powered speaker. Now everybody can hear baby birds nesting in the area, reminding residents every day why they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

We want affordability without sacrificing desirability. Each neighborhood has a unique story. Let them tell it. Participatory budgeting projects simply amplify those stories.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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Alley Valkyrie: Where is She Now?

May 5th, 2019 by dk
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Alley Valkyrie left Eugene five years ago this week, shortly after the homeless camp Whoville was shuttered and dismantled. Five years can pack plenty of changes into a 30-something’s life, so where is Valkyrie today? She’s living in France with her French musician husband and with her famously irascible cat, Squirrel.

Although our paths never officially crossed during her years in Eugene, I visited her recently in Rennes, France’s largest college town. She and her husband showed me around their adopted town and invited me to their favorite after-hours haunts.

Valkyrie clearly reveled in chatting with somebody whose verbs she could conjugate without effort. She’s learning French quickly, but she still thinks in English. That’s important, because Valkyrie thinks out loud better than most people I’ve ever met. Either that, or she had been saving her thoughts for the next native English speaker and I was the fortunate recipient.

Valkyrie was eking out a living in New York City as a street vendor in 2004, when she met some friendly activists affiliated with Cascadia Forest Defenders. They invited her to come to Oregon and participate in their tree-sit protest in the Willamette National Forest.

After three weeks in the forest, she came into town and stumbled on Saturday Market. She immediately knew two things, but only one of them consciously.

She knew that street vending her art could be easier, surrounded by a collective like Saturday Market. She saw that a few rules kept things organized, allowing a family of sharing and support to grow naturally. Somewhere inside, she also must have known a similar network was needed for Eugene’s homeless population.

Whoville provided that loosely organized system of support. In March, 2014, Valkyrie learned that the camp would be forcibly shut down in early April. She recruited a dozen sympathizers to enter City Manager Jon Ruiz’s office and then refused to leave. That was the bang she went out with. The protesters were arrested, though all charges later were dropped.

Valkyrie never wanted to be the leader and lightning rod she became for the homeless in Eugene. The notoriety and threats were more than her introverted spirit could sustain. “People I once considered friends wouldn’t look me in the eye anymore,” she told me. “I just had to get away.”

She settled in Portland five years ago this week. Two years ago, she moved to the Brittany region of France.

Brittany has always maintained a certain distance from Paris, partly by refusing to squelch its citizens’ separatist urges. The region’s history, culture and language have remained distinct. That suits Valkyrie just fine. Outliers will always be quicker to invite radical thoughts.

She believes the French government may prove to be more supple than America’s. France has had five constitutions and three revolutions over the past two centuries, while America is still working with its original model. She sees a future for herself in France, but there’s just one little problem.

She can’t make any trouble that might hurt her chances of gaining citizenship in a few years, but she won’t stop supporting the causes that animate her.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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Individual Exceptionalism Imperils Us All

May 3rd, 2019 by dk
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Our 2019 measles epidemic has passed, so now would be a good time to discuss lottery winners, antibiotics, public retirement funds, vaccinations, gun rights and the Electoral College.

Americans value their individual rights, even when they harm the common good. Each individual is exceptional, and so it follows that every instance of an individual exercising his, her, or their right is likewise exceptional — therefore, not subject to rules that should otherwise apply.

Many state legislatures, including Oregon’s, are struggling to tighten vaccination exemptions, in response to the measles outbreak. Impassioned parents storm state capitols, insisting that their situations must remain exceptional. Maybe they should and maybe they shouldn’t, but the matter must be considered open for discussion.

Alas. discussion itself is a group activity designed for individuals to seek a common understanding — a common good. So you can see why we’ve become so brittle with one another. Anything less than total acceptance of your exceptionalism is proof positive that I haven’t listened. Both sides feel disrespected. All we can agree on at that point is that there has been — in the worst case, there can be — no real discussion.

Microbial bugs cooperate better than we do, and it shows. We’ve been using antibiotics so prolifically that they are losing their effectiveness. We take them to ward off viral infections, although they will do no good. Lazy doctors and suffering patients insisted for decades that taking an antibiotic would do no harm.

Now we see that’s not true. Bacteria have mutated to overcome the antibiotic, evolving into several “superbug” strains that are immune to our medicines. Humanity is falling behind, because humans are not sticking together.

Instead, we’re racing in the opposite direction. Oregon and other states are considering new rules that will favor the individual over the collective. Lottery winners may soon be able to keep their windfall hidden from shysters, neighbors and family. States typically give winners a full year to claim their prize. If that year of anonymity doesn’t provide ample protection, the instant millionaires could pay for whatever extra help they need.

Speaking of windfalls, public retirement plans in many blue states — Oregon included — threaten to bankrupt state budgets, except that bankruptcy may not protect something as large as a state. It may not be allowed.

When government funding becomes untenable, society begins to fray on its edges, and gun rights become frightfully relevant to individuals determined to assert their rights.

We can only hope for leaders who will lead us out of the hole we’re digging for ourselves. Those leaders must speak to us as a single, whole, united nation. Instead, we encourage those who will pander to our worried individual selves.

Will we find a leader who can unify us? It’s less likely if we abandon the localism embedded in the Electoral College. Choosing a president by popular vote may sound good. Each individual vote would count equally, but there will be less whole that can become greater than the sum of its parts.

The measles epidemic has passed, but not its underlying cause.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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Brexit Needs STAR Voting

April 26th, 2019 by dk
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It’s a shame that Mark Frohnmayer is busy designing affordable electric vehicles and working with others to repurpose EWEB’s steam plant, because Britain could use the voting innovation he champions. Democracy has been hacked, and the former software entrepreneur’s STAR Voting model could hack it back,

As soon as United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May approached opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, a new set of possible solutions to the Brexit imbroglio emerged. May’s Conservative Party wants out of the European Union — lock, stock, and tariff-free barrel. Corbyn’s liberal cohorts in the Labour Party see Brexit as an overly simple solution to a problem that’s only gotten more complicated since voters approved it in 2016.

Almost three years after the first referendum, every citizen in the United Kingdom has an opinion about what should be done. Just about the only path forward that could be acceptable to May, Corbyn, and the leaders of the European Union would be a second referendum.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, a second referendum would resemble Brexit itself in this important respect. Another vote sounds simple, until you begin to implement it.

Politicians are wary to ask the same question a second time. Nobody wants to be accused of not heeding the voters’ original decision. But asking every citizen to endorse or reject the agreement forged by May and the EU would be equally unattractive.

Dig into any complex document deeply enough, and everyone will find something to dislike. We’ve seen this already inside the British Parliament, and that’s among people who didn’t have to quit their day job to study the 585-page document that May and the EU drafted. The potential for demagoguery around a second vote is enormous.

If a second vote is agreed, all sides will battle over how it’s framed. The answer will be “Yes” or “No,” but what will be the question?

If only democracy’s election apparatus could accommodate something other than a binary choice. Decision-making among intelligent people is always a nuanced endeavor. It’s too bad we can’t do the same when our decisions are made collectively.

With Frohnmayer’s STAR voting model, Brits could weigh in on several alternatives at once. Some like everything about May’s plan except how it handles the Irish border. Some would prefer to follow Norway’s path, preserving economic ties with the EU, but not much else. Some would rather see Britain crash out of the union quickly than watch leaders wring their hands over the details.

With STAR Voting, everyone could choose all the alternatives they like even a little, giving leaders a clear picture of which plan makes the most sense to the most people. That would give everyone what they need — a path forward.

Instead, what we’ll likely see is a simple vote to address a complex issue. Voters won’t feel heard, because any nuanced or middle solution they may prefer will not appear on their ballots. This wasn’t a dangerous problem when elected officials could craft compromises between themselves, but that ship has apparently sailed.

Binary voting makes simpletons of us all, but it has especially enfeebled democracy’s leaders.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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Oregonians Are Sturdy

April 26th, 2019 by dk
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Oregonians are a sturdy bunch. During the flash floods this week, how many strangers appeared with a winch, ready to pull somebody away from peril? The snowstorms in late February left many without power for a week or longer, and yet not a single death has been attributed to the storms.

Last month, Jeremy Taylor and his vehicle was stuck in the snow for five days on a desolated road near Bend. Taylor survived on taco sauce, according to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. I’ve lived in places where people want to call 9-1-1 from a drive-thru lane when they can’t open their fast food flavor packets. Oregonians can live on them, when they need to.

Compare this to other regions of the country. Mudslides in California, heat waves in Chicago, tornadoes in Alabama, blizzards in the upper Midwest — these stories invariably end with body counts. It seems every winter, a dementia patient in Minnesota or Michigan dies from a trek to the mailbox wearing slippers.

Oregonians are made of tough stuff. Volunteers happily do rigorous and dangerous work. Ski patrols rescue hikers in the mountains. Chainsaw gangs clear paths in the woods after a windstorm. Neighbors gather every weekend to remove blackberry roots from a local cemetery. The Owen Rose Garden hosts a monthly work party to keep it looking just so.

SOLVE Oregon has coordinated volunteer efforts to clean beaches and riversides around the state for 50 years. Last month, 5,000 volunteers picked up over 10 tons of litter and marine debris along all 362 miles of our coastline. For many Oregonians, the biannual cleanups have become a family tradition.

The Willamette National Forest covers more than 2,500 square miles of central Oregon, including almost a million acres in Lane County. After the recent snowstorms felled thousands of trees, forest officials came up with a brilliant plan to clear out a good bit of that deadwood.

They doubled the amount of permitted firewood Oregonians are allowed for forage from the forest floor, increasing the limit this year to 12 cords. Harvesters pay $10 per cord, which amounts to two pickup truckloads. There’s no extra charge for the mind-clearing retreat in the forest.

Oregonians who heat with wood and drive a pickup truck know a bargain when they see one, but so does the forest maintenance staff, according to their announcement. “It is a cost-effective way to collect firewood and will help us reopen roads sooner and remove downed wood that could later dry out and become fuel for wildfires.”

Last year, the forest yielded more than 2,000 cords of personal firewood. This year especially, there’s plenty more where that came from. In what other state can government outsource some of its maintenance work and charge anyone with a pickup truck and a free day for the privilege?

Officials caution residents to use extra precaution when traveling forest roads. Snow loads can shift quickly, and road conditions may deteriorate unexpectedly. Bring extra blankets and water. In case there isn’t a winch-wielding stranger nearby to help, keep some ketchup packets in your truck.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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Happiness: We’ve Swapped Eudemonia For Bliss

April 26th, 2019 by dk
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I seem to have a theme going about words whose meaning has changed since our country was founded, so let’s talk about something that might be more relevant to you than high crimes or misdemeanors (which used to mean failure of duty, not minor infractions.)

If you’ve wondered why happiness is so hard to hold onto, it’s worth knowing that happiness wasn’t regarded as a possession at all until about a century ago. Happiness, to our Founding Fathers, was synonymous with “living a good life.” Happiness was more a verb than a noun. The concept was rooted in a term Aristotle favored: eudemonia.

You may not know that word, but you know its cousin: pandemonium, which means, literally, “all little spirits” or movement in all directions. Eudemonia means “good spirit” or striving for good. That’s what happiness meant in 17776.

So when Thomas Jefferson was writing our Declaration of Independence, he thought he was improving on Locke’s 1689 “Two Treatises of Government.” Locke had his own trinity of inalienable rights: life, liberty, and property. Jefferson knew that property rights were already a flashpoint in colonial America, so he subbed in “the pursuit of happiness.”

As long as happiness was measured as striving for the (spiritual, higher, common) good, all was well. The government’s role was to protect its citizens’ lives, their freedoms, and their ability to strive for a common good.

If supporting the welfare of others was what every American wanted to do, government’s involvement can be very limited. Every American should contribute his or her own eudemonia — striving for good. Jefferson’s goal was to make government as irrelevant as possible to its citizens.

Alas, words change. And people do too. Sometimes people change words, but more often words change people.

Happiness started as an elegant encapsulation of the democratic ideal. If we’re all looking out for one another, no tyranny could ever take hold. We affirmed in our founding documents that we were all equal and together, striving for good.

But democracy didn’t give us rapid economic growth. Capitalism did. So “happiness” was taken over and redefined by the mercantile class, to sell its goods. Everybody wants to feel happy. In fact, hadn’t we been promised exactly that? Wasn’t government required to give us everything we desire?

Property, from Locke’s pen, was self-limiting. It was possible to have too much property, as American soldiers showed King George III. Happiness, at least in the modern sense, is not self-limiting. Nobody ever believes they have too much of it.

This points to a gripe I have with the so-called Happiness Index. What pollsters are able to measure and call happiness is really more accurately described as the absence of envy.

Cultures with less economic diversity are the places where people report more happiness. Rich Scandinavian countries and poor Latin American countries score near the top. What matters isn’t wealth. It’s whether commonalities with peers are keenly felt. That was America once. Today’s America is less happy in the modern sense because we’ve stopped striving for the common good, which was America’s first definition of happiness.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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Trump Can Be Impeached for What He Has Failed to Do

April 26th, 2019 by dk
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Now that Robert Mueller’s [redacted] report has become available for all [redacted] eyes to see, we can look for ward to weeks or months of speculation about what the report has revealed, and what the redactions continue to conceal.

The president’s detractors will be searching for direct evidence to prove the specific causes for impeachment required by Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution: “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Most are looking for “high crimes,” but it’s this president’s “misdemeanors” that are in clearest view.

To the framers of the Constitution, misdemeanors were not barely criminal actions like shoplifting or jaywalking. In fact, misdemeanors did not represent actions at all. “Misdemeanor” in 1789 meant “failure to fulfill one’s duties.” It meant not showing up for work, not taking seriously one’s obligations.

The definition follows an ideal expressed in traditional confessional prayers, asking forgiveness for “what we have done, and … what we have left undone.” Good deeds purposely left undone were misdemeanors, and they were as invidious as high crimes, when judging a president’s fitness for office.

President Trump makes no effort to conceal his misdemeanors. Mr. Trump has visited one of his golf courses, or played golf elsewhere, 182 times since becoming President. That’s roughly every fourth day since he moved into the Oval Office. His daily appointment calendar was recently leaked, showing plenty of “executive time” when he was in the residence watching television — and very few meetings — on most days.

We’ve had presidents who napped during the day and it didn’t stop the government from running, because the executive branch of our government is staffed with thousands of presidential appointees. Hundreds of those positions have been left vacant by this president, with no apparent intention to fill them.

Half a dozen senior staff and cabinet posts are being filled right now by those who have the word “Acting” in front of their title. Mike Mulvaney was already a cabinet secretary as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, but he is also now moonlighting as Trump’s Acting Chief of Staff. The president is purposely bypassing the scrutiny of the Senate’s advise and consent, which the Constitution requires.

Trump has allowed the government’s longest shutdown in history. He has threatened to close entire federal agencies, and the nation’s southern border — without the support of Congress. He has instructed his Justice Department to not defend laws that were passed by Congress. His Treasury Department refuses to hand over his tax returns, flouting an unambiguous law that has been on the books for nearly a century.

He hasn’t divested his business interests, tempting foreign powers to stay at his hotels to curry favor. He has overruled professionals and his own top advisors to give security clearances to his children and two dozen others who were not deemed qualified. He ignores laws, professional advice, legal counsel, administrative rules, and accepted practices whenever he chooses.

Long story short, he’s less culpable for what he has done than for what he has left undone. No one needs to look behind the [redacted] redactions to see that.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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Eugene Should Recruit a WNBA Team

April 26th, 2019 by dk
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Is Eugene ready to support another professional sport franchise? Yes, I think so. Our longtime support of the Eugene Emeralds has shown there’s a professional sports audience here. Lane United Football Club has committed to six home soccer matches at the rebuilt Civic Park, as soon as it becomes available.

The University of Oregon’s recent success in football, softball, and basketball has added to the city’s legendary reputation for hosting some of the best track meets on the planet. Hosting the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Championships in 2021, we expect our reimagined Hayward Field will captivate a worldwide audience.

Eugene’s bona fides for hosting sporting events are unquestioned, but do you notice anything missing from our current offerings? Only the Emeralds host more than a half dozen annual competitions. Only Lane United fields a team that plays the best competition available. Only some University of Oregon teams play indoors, or feature women athletes.

What’s missing represents an opportunity.

Eugene should gather a group of investors ready to relocate a WNBA franchise to Eugene in 2020. The professional women’s basketball currently has 12 teams. They play a regular season of 34 games through the summer. The closest franchises are in Las Vegas and Seattle.

Portland had a team, but it folded after only three seasons. Back then, each team was owned by the same local NBA owner, but WNBA teams are now independently owned. Oregon hasn’t had a professional women’s team to root for since 2002.

Some of the most successful WNBA franchises are not in major cities. If you’ve never heard of Uncasville, Connecticut, then you probably don’t know the name Geno Auriemma either. But if you’ve followed women’s basketball, you know what juggernaut teams — and a devoted fanbase — Auriemma has built at the University of Connecticut, 35 miles north of Uncasville.

Synergies with collegiate competition have proven more reliable than with local NBA teams. The women play the game a bit differently. Their fans would say it’s better.

Is UO Head Coach Kelly Graves building something comparable to Auriemma’s success here in Eugene? It’s not too soon to begin planning for it. The Oregon Ducks have built the largest fan base in the PAC-12, with room to grow inside the Matthew Knight Arena.

When Sabrina Ionescu announced she would not leave school a year early to pursue her career as a professional player in the WNBA, she made her motivations as clear as a pass off the pick-and-roll. She remains devoted Graves’s vision when he recruited her. She could come to Eugene and help build a program and culture that would continue long after her four years.

That’s the “unfinished business” she decided she couldn’t walk away from — even though she was projected to be the No. 1 pick in this year’s WNBA draft. We can extend the success she’s brought to this town and her sport by moving a WNBA franchise here.

We want to watch her and some of her teammates play professionally, and then those she has inspired, in the sport — and town — they love.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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All Shoppers Need a Better Mirror

April 26th, 2019 by dk
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Are you a frugal consumer, buying only what’s on sale? Are you a conscious consumer, rewarding sustainable practices? Are you a local consumer, favoring nearby makers and growers? Are you a used goods consumer, reusing what’s already been produced? Are you a holistic consumer, weighing your options for each purchase?

If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions or a dozen more just like them, then you are a consumer. That’s worth noting, as we mark Earth Week. We all agree that over-consumption is a problem for people, society and the planet. But consumerism is the deeper problem.

Consuming is not at the root of the problem. Consumers are.

If you and I think of ourselves as consumers — of any stripe — then we stand poised to consume. Inevitably, we will sometimes consume too much. “But,” we’ll think to ourselves, “at least we did our consuming in the most [insert self-aggrandizing adjective here] way possible.”

Do you see the problem here? As long as our consuming habits build our self-esteem and affirm our identity, we perpetuate the real problem. We work so hard to improve our consumer habits, overlooking how those efforts reinforce our identity as consumers.

If we think of ourselves first as consumers, what is likely to be the solution to every problem we encounter? Now you’re getting it. Our sustainable, organic, woke, local thriftiness makes us feel empowered and esteemed. Where can we turn when our purchasing power produces more purchasing and less power?

This is our shared dilemma. But because everybody is in it, none of us recognize it. If everybody is in the same boat, our surroundings lose their boatiness. So (deep breath), what should we do?

The answer is, “Almost anything, except shopping.” Dig a hole. Call your mother. Take a class. Hit the gym. Go for a walk. Organize a closet. Solve a puzzle. Be something other than a consumer for a little while.

That’s not to say you won’t be consuming something. You may need a shovel or a shoe or a shelf for your non-consumer tasks. Buying something because of what you’re doing is different from buying things because it’s who you are. Buying isn’t the problem; building our identities around what and how we buy is.

The simplest fix we can achieve collectively is becoming a national movement, organized by PIRG and other consumer-interest organizations. Eight states are currently debating Fair Repair or Right to Repair laws. They would give consumers and third-party repair shops access to the same repair information (and specialty tools) as product manufacturers. Until a few days ago, Oregon was among those states.

State Senator James Manning (D – Eugene) was a chief sponsor of HB2688, along with Rep. Rob Nosse (D – Portland). A hearing was held on April 22, Earth Day, but it won’t pass out of the House Business and Labor Committee this session. Talk has already begun to bring the bill back in 2020.

We should each have the right to fix our own stuff. But our stuff is not what most needs fixing. It’s us.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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No Collusion! Explained

April 5th, 2019 by dk
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There was no collusion. There couldn’t have been. Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin wanted to embarrass and weaken Hillary Clinton, but in different ways. Putin wanted Trump to win the presidency. Trump wanted to narrowly lose.

Putin aimed to weaken America and its democratic ideals as much as possible. He knew he could make the democratic world order quiver if not collapse under the weight of a chaotic and acrimonious election.

Trump saw nothing wrong with participating, so long as it boosted his own celebrity and wealth. He planned to keep his day job as a real estate mogul, a television star, and a spokesperson for white male victimhood. He never wanted to live in the White House.

Public testimony from Trump’s sycophants paint a clear picture of a man who launched a political campaign to burnish his brand. He picked his sidekicks as costars in his reality show, never expecting they would have any real responsibilities.

Everyone thought Hillary Clinton would win the race. Trump cast himself as the star of the Washington Generals, losing to the Harlem Globetrotters, but just barely. All that mattered was that the crowd got a good show.

But then something went wrong. Thanks to the Electoral College and Democratic overconfidence, Trump became the dog that caught the car. Trump’s Plan B became Plan A.

Putin’s feigned interest in a Trump Tower Moscow would have to wait a few years. Putin must have snickered at Trump’s proposal of the penthouse suite as a kickback. Trump couldn’t understand that Putin’s graft was on a much grander scale.

Putin may have pretended to like the idea of Ivanka’s spa catering to the ultra-wealthy who suspiciously hang around the Russian Kremlin. It was only fair. After sending Russian cronies to Florida and New York to launder their money with overpriced real estate, the Trump family wanted their turn to hide its wealth from tax authorities.

It was as if Putin promised to sell Trump a condo with private access to all the up-and-comers in the neighborhood. Only after the sale was completed did Trump realize his unit had no windows at all, but shared a thinly insulated wall with the building’s elevator. Trump failed to read the fine print, and had no one to blame but himself.

Which is exactly the opposite of what he had wanted. Trump aimed to narrowly lose to Hillary, so he could blame the crooked media for his underserved misfortune. This is the role he has perfected in the media for decades. It was the role he was born to play.

I can picture him scheming with Roger Ailes and Bill Shine, two Fox News executives fired for sexual improprieties. Together, they could take over Fox News or launch a competing network. Bill O’Reilly, similarly deposed, would be their headline star, after Trump himself.

He must have been envisioning constant access to the airwaves to question every move made by President Hillary and Obama before her, without ever offering better ideas. Indeed, that describes pretty well how he spends his days, neglecting the job he inadvertently won.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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