Kristin

So you want to become a rich, modern, productive country? Here’e the secret sauce: universal government programs for social support and financial security.

To have any shot at a stable climate, we need to force fossil fuel companies to keep $10 trillion in the ground. Have we ever done something at that scale. Well, yes, but it required a long and bloody civil war.

Keynesian liberals and Ayn Radian conservatives have something in common: they think capitalist rentiers, aka wealthy welfare moochers, are a bad thing for people and prosperity. True free markets require competition, which requires regulation to prevent monopolies on markets and power.

Apparently, when you leave office and leave the state, you get a lot more blunt. Former Metro president David Bragdon says Oregon transportation agencies need to get their act together before asking taxpayers for more money.

Eric

One of the best parts of my job is meeting the most talented and passionate Cascadians fighting coal and oil developments, like my friend Carlo Voli. He was recently profiled on KUOW by reporter Ashley Ahearn and the piece is definitely worth listening to.

This CNBC segment supports what Sightline has been arguing about the Thin Green Line: if companies like Tesoro can’t get the Northwest’s permission to build fossil fuel infrastructure they can’t move their product to market (where it will be burned and contribute to climate change). This is why key infrastructure fights matter.

Speaking of Tesoro, its plans at Vancouver, Washington, continue to make enemies. A few days ago, the Vancouver Fire Fighters Union stepped out in unequivocal opposition to the giant oil-by-rail facility planned there.

Who else is opposed? For one, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, a politically influential agency that just published a comprehensive and damning look at the risk that oil trains pose to the Columbia River.

The risks of oil trains are not just environmental, they are also financial. In particular, we should worry about severe under-insurance on the Northwest’s regional rail lines. Why? Because accidents happen:

On October 13, a Portland & Western Railroad locomotive ran over a rail clamp that was inadvertently left on the tracks by a maintenance crew, puncturing a diesel tank and releasing approximately 1,500 gallons of fuel onto the roadway and tracks.

Not a huge deal in this case, but it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to speculate about what might have happened with an oil train. As it happens, that line is owned by Genesee & Wyoming, a railroad conglomerate with at most $500 million of liability insurance, that shuttles dozens of combustible crude oil trains through Portland and Columbia County, Oregon. A serious derailment and fire could easily cost several billion dollars.

Finally, I’m developing an unhealthy addiction to the NYT’s daily mini crosswords. They’re so phone-sized, and they’re timed, and they force me to click on them the second I wake up in the morning.

Keiko

What a wonderful week for democracy! And it came not a moment too soon. Here’s a great piece on how Maine and Seattle are paving the path for campaign finance reform.

  • America has designed communities that leave people lonelier as they get older. Who wants to be lonely and old? These current housing patterns are ruining friendships and hindering social encounters. This article provides vital evidence for why smart urban design is essential.

    Jeanette

    When I heard that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1366 passed in 35 of 39 counties in Washington state (only King, Thurston, Jefferson and San Juan counties voted against it), I thought of John Michael Greer’s ongoing imagined series Retrotopia. Check out the September 30 edition in which he describes the Tiers of Lakeland, where those who don’t want to pay taxes get very few public services and almost nothing is subsidized.

    This story about a debt bubble made me nervous.  Yes indeed.

    Serena

    I love this, and it makes me nostalgic for a program Chicago used to run when I lived there. Every year, Portland hosts a “Fix-It Fair” full of workshops and exhibits that help residents save money and energy over the winter months. They cover everything from home weatherization to food gardening, from transportation assistance to nutrition tips. Not to mention free minor bike tune-ups, free childcare, free lunch, freebies galore from all the presenters. (Can I say “free” one more time?) Some of the workshops are in Spanish, too, so mark your calendar and find out more here. (Readers! Are there more events like this where you live?)

    This story still makes my heart smile, so I’m sorry for not sharing it earlier. But seriously, why don’t we have Cycling Without Age anywhere in bike-tastic Cascadia yet?

    I can’t say I knew about this, either, but of course such an event would strike Northwest folks close to home:

    Fire is raging across the 5,000km length of Indonesia. It is surely, on any objective assessment, more important than anything else taking place today. … It is hard to convey the scale of this inferno, but here’s a comparison that might help: it is currently producing more carbon dioxide than the US economy. And in three weeks the fires have released more CO2 than the annual emissions of Germany.

    The author goes on to detail some of the massive losses that cannot be measured in parts per million. Scary, sad, and telling, all at once.

    Wow: at least 1,441 places across the US have official names based on racial slurs.

    Thrift store Value Village bills itself as the “the thrift superstore with a community conscience.” Funny, then, that it keeps a whopping 83 cents of every dollar it takes in for itself and gives just 17 cents on average, and often much less, to the charities it purports to be helping. Investigate West did a great write-up of it: The Thrift Store that Dressed Up Like a Charity and Got Sued. (Just one more reason I’m a Goodwill girl for life.)