Today as I was driving on U.S Highway 30 into town and back, I saw a sign that one side said, "Don't give up," and on the reverse, "You matter." These are powerful and meaningful sentiments, but they do not reflect the reality for most of the permanent residents of Clatsop County.

Except for a very small percentage of county residents, the barriers to a living wage, routine health care, mental health care, affordable housing, adequate nutrition and fair treatment by the judicial system, etc., are fundamentally insurmountable.

I genuinely admire whoever installed that sign, and I appreciate the sentiments expressed, but the truth is that the once-usual methods of perseverance and ingenuity no longer apply. Genuine access to the basic elements of a merely simple, dignified existence are limited to those who have succeeded economically and not to those, through no fault of their own, are stuck at a substandard income.

I am not a socialist by any stretch, but I do think that we have generally failed as a society to provide an adequate safety net for the economically disadvantaged. This is particularly true in states like Oregon, which restrict the overall local tax burden to property owners, who are correct to resist further taxation when other options are available that would be not only more equitable, but also result in a more robust social safety net.

BARRY L. PLOTKIN

Astoria

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