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Government's disaster response is - disastrous
Remember Katrina? Well, life hasn't changed much when it comes to getting help from the government. Politicians make a speech, declare an emergency and call for a study. In eastern Washington we're at the study stage - see the accompanying story submitted by the State Emergency Operations Center.

Fortunately in the meantime, neighbors and friends in North Central Washington and across the country have reached out to help. The emergency relief center is Pateros has trucks waiting in line to deliver food, clothing, generators and emergency supplies. Meals are being prepared and people are working around the clock to do whatever needs to be done.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 More...

Letters to the Editor
Thursday, July 31, 2014 More...
EPA's carbon pollution rules
Some national business organizations have hammered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for proposing new rules on carbon pollution from existing power plants, cutting carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030, using 2005 levels as a baseline. What planet are they on?

It's ludicrous to pretend that climate change isn't happening, or that it won't affect every industry. It's beyond comprehension that large business advocacy organizations, including the US Chamber of Commerce, think that our government should stand by and do nothing, while climate-related disasters in 2012 caused more than $139 billion in damages, while U.S. taxpayers shelled out $96 billion in climate-related damages in 2012 alone.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 More...
Disaster Assistance and Eastern Washington Wildfires
Assistance provided to date

A proclamation of emergency for the 20 Eastern Washington Counties by Gov. Jay Inslee on July 15 ordered state agencies to assist affected communities and for that assistance to be coordinated through the State Emergency Operations Center. Assistance provided to date includes Washington National Guard helicopters for dropping water and ground troops to assist with fire-fighting and other activities to support affected communities. And acquisition of food, water, supplies, and equipment such as emergency power generators.

At the request of Gov. Inslee, President Obama on July 23 granted an emergency proclamation that provides direct federal assistance to help with emergency power generation for critical facilities. The federal government will pay up to 75 percent for eligible costs. This proclamation is limited in nature, and does not provide for assistance to people whose homes have burned, or for permanent repairs to damaged public infrastructure, for example.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 More...
Supreme Court ruling may strike down Washington state law
By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in Harris v. Quinn that home care workers in Illinois cannot be forced to pay dues to a union they do not wish to join. Home care workers, often family members, provide in-home care for disabled people and receive Medicaid payments administered by the state.

The court ruled that Medicaid beneficiaries and others participating in state entitlement programs are not full-fledged state employees, because they are hired by individuals and work in private homes, and therefore cannot be required to pay union fees against their will.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 More...
Here's one fix for our imperfect marketplace: Paid Leave
As a business person, there is one economics lesson I learn over and over again: The marketplace is essential but not perfect.

It is not perfect in a variety of ways, but a big one is that not everyone can be a winner. 

I don't mean winner in the sense of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. Rather, a winner in the sense of middle class-with access to some discretionary income. 

There are a variety of ways to lose-and they're not all bad. The marketplace creates losers of the inefficient or passé. Or the rich who make poor investments. But some consequences are so awful, such as starvation, that we, as a society, will not accept them. So we have food stamps.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 More...

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