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Opinion

Opinion

John R. Charles, Jr. President, Cascade Policy Institute

Cascade Policy Institute has submitted a letter to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requesting that the agency enforce contracts with TriMet for three light rail projects: the Yellow Line, the Green Line, and the Orange Line. Each project received substantial federal funding, which came with contractual obligations to provide minimum levels of service. TriMet has not met those obligations.

For both the Yellow and Green Lines, TriMet is supposed to be providing 8 trains per hour during peak periods. Current service on those lines is 4 trains per hour.

For the Orange Line, TriMet is supposed to be providing 6 trains per peak-hour. Current service provides only 4.6 trains per hour.

All three lines are also traveling at slower speeds than promised, and ridership projections have been missed by large margins.

Under FTA policy, the agency is empowered to demand repayment of federal funding if grant recipients fail to meet the terms of funding contracts. In its letter, Cascade Policy Institute is asking that FTA require TriMet to begin operating light rail lines in accordance with grant agreements within six months or begin paying back the federal funding. Continue reading

Eco darling natural gas gives way to wind, solar and battery electricity – and slave labor

When Berkeley, California last year became the first U.S. city to ban the installation of natural gas lines to new homes, Mayor Jesse Arreguín proudly stated, “We are committed to the Paris Agreement and must take immediate action in order to reach our climate action goals. It’s not radical. It’s necessary.”

Phasing out natural gas-fired electric power generation by 2030 is bedrock dogma in the Green New Deal. In fact, it’s become an unholy crusade. So it should be no surprise that climate alarmists would jump at the chance to ban new natural gas lines. Many other cities in California have already followed Berkeley’s lead, as has Bellingham, Washington. More gas bans are in the offing nationwide.  Connecticut lawmakers actually want a law that would pressure insurers to stop insuring homes that have gas appliances or heating systems!!

But Takoma Park, Maryland, which proudly bills itself as “the Berkeley of the East,” wants to go even further. City officials have proposed to ban “all gas appliances, close fossil fuel pipelines, and move gasoline stations that do not convert to electric charging stations outside city limits by 2045.” The Takoma Park proposal also mandates all-LED lighting by 2022 for all buildings, including single-family homes. Composting would also become mandatory. Continue reading

Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)

When President Trump responded to criticism about his use of Twitter, he said “I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.” That struck me as very true.
The President owes his success to his ability to speak directly and informally to the American people, without the heavy filter of the news media. Those who long for the good old days where American Presidents were very formal do not realize how much power that ceded to an unelected media that thinks of itself as the Fourth Estate, claiming vital importance in a free society.

I have been appalled that so many of those I once respected in the media have defected to the Dark Side, spewing little more than political propaganda, disguised as expert commentary or even “balanced journalism.” Yet what we have witnessed may be simply ‘business as usual’ in the mainstream media that we finally recognize as heavily biased journalism, supporting an out-of-control identity politics and government domination of everything including science.

My awakening came on election night 2016 when Donald Trump won the Presidency. The journalists I had long admired were despondent and even crying at the outcome, while I could not stop cheering. I knew that Trump would be transformative, because few septuagenarians would undertake such a monumental job unless they intended to make a big difference. Trump has certainly pleased those of us who voted for him. In fact, he has done much better than I expected he would, in the face of non-stop attacks. Continue reading

Eric Fruits, Ph.D.

At the first—and likely only—public hearing on Metro’s “supportive housing” tax measure, one resident asked a question on everyone’s mind: “Our money isn’t being spent the way it should be now, so what assurances do we have that this will be any different?”

The question highlights the fact that trust in local government is at a low point. Among Portland areas voters who have an opinion of their local government, approximately one-third have an unfavorable opinion of Metro or county government and more than 40% have an unfavorable opinion of their city government, according to a survey by FM3 Research.

With more than a billion dollars a year in new taxes heading to the ballot in 2020, voters deserve assurances their hard-earned money won’t be wasted or soaked up in administrative costs. If all the measures pass, some households will pay thousands, literally thousands, more in taxes. That means fewer meals out, reduced back-to-school shopping, and “staycations” instead of vacations. If taxpayers are working more to pay their tax bills, they should feel confident local governments will ensure that money is well and wisely spent. Our local governments, however, do not instill much confidence. Continue reading

John R. Charles, Jr. President, Cascade Policy Institute

Rarely has Oregon’s lack of political leadership been as painfully obvious as it is now on the topic of grid reliability.

Most of us take for granted the miracle of electricity. We flip a switch and the lights come on. Computers, air conditioners, smartphones—all powered by the magic of the grid. We don’t care how electricity arrives; we just want it, every hour of the day.

One of the intriguing characteristics of the grid is that electricity must be consumed at the same time it is generated. It cannot be stockpiled the way water can be stored in a tank. As a consumer, you can’t go next door and borrow a cup of kilowatts.

Supply and demand on the grid must be in equilibrium at all times, to avoid blackouts. This makes power generation tricky. Utilities need electricity sources they can count on—known as “baseload” power. They typically use coal, natural gas, nuclear, and hydroelectric generators for this purpose. Those sources with the most operating flexibility—typically gas and hydro—are also used as “peakers,” to alter the power supply so it matches hourly changes in consumer demand. Continue reading

Frank Salvato

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“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”

– Sun-Tzu

The coronavirus – or SARS-CoV-2 – is indeed real and it is causing deaths around the world. But while the stock markets are reacting in typical kneejerk fashion, we would be wise to truly understand the threat posed by the virus. When put into context, this outbreak is less panic-worthy than the media is depicting.

Hospitalization for SARS-CoV-2 is reported at approximately 75,000 worldwide. There have been approximately 2,000 deaths attributed to the virus, and it has a mortality rate ranging from 2.9 percent to just 0.4 percent, depending on the age of the person afflicted; the mortality rate for geriatric individuals being higher and younger victims lower. People ages 10 to 39 had a reported mortality rate of 0.2 percent and nobody 9 and under has died of the virus to date.

Juxtaposed to the mortality rate for the influenza A and influenza B viruses we begin to see things more clearly. Continue reading

In the course of a recent internet chat about Donald Trump, someone raised an interesting question. What single attribute of our president best encourages those of us who support him while most infuriating those who hate him? Several suggestions were offered, but the one that most impressed me was elegantly simple. The writer identified in Trump that one virtue which C. S Lewis aptly characterized as “not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.” By that Lewis was reminding us of something which deep in our hearts we already know, that our “virtues” only emerges as real or truly virtuous when living them out becomes dangerous, or at least when it becomes extraordinarily difficult.

The virtue we must rely upon in such instances is bravery, or fortitude, and as Lewis explained, “a chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful until it became risky.” We see Lewis’s compelling insight shamelessly revealed in the constant virtue signaling of the left, which awards itself medals for valor whenever it takes up a cause for which no bravery at all is required. For example, how much courage does it take, really, to shout “#me-too” after a perpetrator like Harvey Weinstein has been safely draped in chains?

Trump is brave. In my eye he is a stag surrounded by wolves. Or better still, he is Gulliver smothered in Lilliputians. And yet he fights on. In my heart this inspires a deeper and perhaps more interesting question: “Why is Trump brave?” While I did not anticipate his bravery before he was elected to office (did anyone?) I believe I have found the answer to that question in a most wonderful place. Continue reading

You may not be able to tax carbon out of existence, but you can tax agriculture out of business. That’s the refrain of Timber Unity, the coalition which sees the resurrection of last year’s cap-and-trade bill as a threat to businesses which have called Oregon “home” for decades. One woman at the Timber Unity protest in Salem February 6 said she would see an additional $45,000 in taxes if SB 1530 passes. That’s a non-starter for small businesses whose profit margins are often in the single digits.

In other words, hardworking people will be put out of business if this bill passes: folks who brought their trucks from around the state before dawn to remind Salem what the voice of Oregon sounds like. The atmosphere among the thousands gathered wasn’t tense or angry. The thousands gathered were just ordinary people who care about the environment and want to make an honest living. Continue reading

UN and EU government agencies – and tax-exempt NGOs – have brought a plague of locusts

Billions of desert locusts have descended again on East Africa. Crawling first, then sprouting wings and flying in hungry hoards of 40-150 million or more, they are devastating crops and threatening tens of millions of people with lost livelihoods and starvation. This latest locust plague, says the United Nations, is the worst in 70 years for Kenya, the worst in 25 years for Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia.

Locust swarms can blanket scores or hundreds of square miles at a time, travel 80 miles a day, and consume more than 400 million pounds of vegetation daily, Africa Fighting Malaria cofounder Richard Tren notes. The insects increase their numbers logarithmically, meaning numbers can be 500 times higher in six months. In Ethiopia, on January 9, a massive swarm nearly brought down a Boeing 737 jetliner.

Many fear the voracious insects could soon reach croplands in South Sudan, Uganda, and even Asia. Continue reading

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