Medicare cuts unfair

On Oct. 5, Oregon Congressman Greg Walden and a majority of Republicans voted to approve a budget that cuts Medicare funding, raising the eligibility age to 67. According to AARP this budget opens the door to transforming Medicare into a voucher program.

Walden believes that Medicare is an “entitlement,” but in fact it is an “earned benefit.” Every paycheck you received extracted a 2.9 percent payroll tax on each dollar earned. It is fundamentally unfair to pay into a program and not get the benefits that you paid for.

Why cut Medicare so severely? Apparently these cuts are necessary so that corporate tax cuts and estate cuts for billionaires can be voted on in the Senate in a process that bypasses the filibuster. In other words this budget guts Medicare so that the wealthy can get their tax cut.

Traditionally, Republicans get a higher percentage of votes from seniors than Democrats. But this voting dynamic will change when people realize that Republicans care more about tax cuts for the wealthy than health care. Hopefully, Republicans like Greg Walden who continually vote to gut earned benefits such as the Medicare program will be voted out of office in 2018.

Howard McEwan

Ashland

Running out of time

I was in Portugal this September, a beautiful, ancient country, now besieged by tourists and wildfires.

What shocked me while I was there was the devastation from their wildfires this summer in dry country, pine and eucalyptus plantations. Fires leaped both sides of major roads and crossed the train tracks and rivers. The whole center of the country is pretty well blackened, though fortunately, the firefighters managed to save most of their ancient, isolated stone villages.

When I returned to northern California and Ashland two weeks ago, I was thrilled because it was still so beautiful, and we have every opportunity to continue to support nature, so it can support us. In October now that northern California is tragically burning up, I realize we are running out of time. Our grace period is ending. We are too many people, ignoring climate change, and quite unprepared to deal with the devastating consequences of increasingly extreme weather.

We can continue to debate the exact causes of such intense catastrophic wildfires, and tweak around the edges with timid projections about what to do next. Or we can begin real discussions about human impact on the planet and how to slow or stop the increasingly devastating consequences of our consumption of the natural resources that have protected us.

Read E.O. Wilson's “Half Earth” and follow "Our Children’s Trust” in their court case. Fight to protect the forests and waters that protect us. Check with the outstanding local organizations that are doing this work, and tell our elected representatives that we will support our natural lands at the ballot box, no more clearcuts, pollution, false, short-sighted economics and exploitation of resources that end up harming us all.

Portugal currently does not have the political will to correct decades of bad land-use policy. Maybe we can do better.

Bonnie Johnson

Ashland

Rename Dead Indian

To me, that road name is a sick though thinly acceptable version of the old racial epithet, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." Why do we in Jackson County want to enshrine such an idea in our culture?

It’s part of the 1850’s heritage where manifest destiny led to racial slaughter. This is similar to the leavings of the Confederate ideal such as statues, flags and road names. The current lesson from the steady removal of those symbols across the South is that we can right our history without re-writing it. We in Jackson County should do no less.

Remove the word "Memorial" from that road name and the meaning is clear. The origin matters little; the impact on our thinking matters to our children, the society we want them to live in.

The Jackson County commissioners are accepting submissions on this topic until Oct. 31. Make your voice heard: BoC-CAO_Admin@jacksoncounty.org.

Lee Baldwin

Talent