Explain why a pricey condo sale is the feature front page article (“Spokane’s most expensive condo sells for $2.25 million,” Sept. 7) in a city suffering from homelessness and lack of affordable housing. Should I be impressed? Perhaps if deemed important, it might be better placed in the real estate section of newspaper and headlines focus on educating the reader on world or national events.
Wealth gap showcased in Spokane
The juxtaposition of two stories in a recent edition of The Spokesman-Review should serve as a wake-up call. The first, “Trent shelter quietly opens its doors” (Sept. 8) offers us a glimpse of the troubles haunting our most marginalized fellow human beings. The second, “Spokane’s most expensive condo sells for $2.25 million” (Sept. 7), offers us a glimpse into the lives of the ultra wealthy who can use their money to create spaces filled with custom climate controlled wine walls and Adelman chandeliers.
In the United States, the top 1% of earners averaged 40 times more income than the bottom 90%. If that 1% were hoarding anything but money, we would recognize a mental illness in need of treatment. Instead, we laud these people and write newspaper articles about their impeccable taste in condos. Meanwhile, people priced out of a “booming” rental market are shoved away into literal industrial warehouses. Is this the kind of society we want? What kind of people have we become? What do we owe to the “least of our brothers?” Maybe we owe nothing. Maybe we allow people to sink or swim based on whatever individual resources they possess. That is certainly one kind of society we can choose.
However, I would argue that watching fellow humans drown while mega yachts sail on by should disgust and disturb us all. Luckily, the rich can still retreat to their wine walled fortresses. Maybe the wine will help.
I received a copy of the “Epoch Times” newspaper in the mail. After reading it, I was reminded of the disc that I got in the mail a while ago from Spokane Citizens for Election Integrity, probably the same one that Shawn Vestal received. I didn’t believe any of it. However, it was interesting to realize how easily people can be convinced of an alternate reality.
Pay it forward
How many folks remember a time when they were given a hand up in life? Maybe somebody helped when they were struggling to make ends meet. Maybe someone recognized how very determined they were to build a better life and invested in their future.
If fortunate, a family was in a position to help pay for their American dream. If not, it came down to a decision: abandon a career that requires a college degree or cover the cost with student loans. To this end, many fell victim to predatory loans with interest rates as high as 13% per year.
One outraged letter writer claims he took out a 1.5% interest student loan in the 1970s and he doesn’t understand now in 2022 why others can’t honor their obligations like he did. Forgiving $10,000 to $25,000 of undergraduate student loans for folks making less than $125,000 a year is a slap in his face. Why should his tax dollars pay off other people’s debts?
Between 1977 and 2022, college expenses rose an average inflation rate of 6.27% per year. What cost students $20,000 in 1977 is equivalent to $309,324.08 in 2022 (www.in2013dollars.com). The cost of post-graduate schools is staggering. Only the very ultra wealthy can afford to pay the cost of four to eight years of higher education without student loans.
Even though I graduated from university without going into debt, I am more than willing to help others who did. Instead of criticizing them, I prefer to pay the blessing forward.
Livestock grazing on federal lands
National forests, parks, BLM lands, etc., are part of the federal estate that belongs to all citizens. In, arguably, the most capitalistic country on earth, 325 million of us can say we own hundreds of millions of acres of land. Yet, no one individual can lay claim to the lands for themselves. Livestock grazing is the most widespread commercial use of those lands. Grazing of cattle is destructive and heavily subsidized. Many public lands are managed for livestock, despite most Americans wanting our lands managed for wildlife (including wolves), fish, recreation, clean water, etc. Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service said it best. Public lands should be managed to provide “the greatest good for the greatest number” of people.
Negative impacts associated with livestock grazing include the trampling of streambanks, soil compaction, excrement in streams (and everywhere), spread of invasive species, decrease in vegetation that wildlife depend on and bank erosion that leads to widening and shallowing of stream channels that may result in higher water temperatures detrimental to fish populations. Grazing is also heavily subsidized by taxpayers. Minimal grazing fees collected are not enough to cover administration of permits. Large portions of fees collected are spent to fence and rehabilitate landscapes decimated by cattle. The argument about feeding the country is invalid because less than 3% of U.S. beef is raised on federal lands.
Public lands need to be managed for the greater good rather than the economic benefit of a few.