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Day: February 7, 2014

Taylor a student favorite

Jim Taylor, McNary’s choir program director and recent President’s Award recipient, works with students in class last February. (KEIZERTIMES/File photo)
Jim Taylor, McNary’s choir program director and recent President’s Award recipient, works with students in class last February. (KEIZERTIMES/File photo)

Of the Keizertimes

What happens when teaching transcends the boundaries of reading, writing and arithmetic?

When teaching goes beyond the simple definitions of teacher and student?

When the teacher is an educator, to be sure, but meets his students as a fellow traveler?

For the answers, look no further than the students of McNary High School’s Jim Taylor, who was honored for his work with students and in the community with the Keizer Chamber of Commerce’s President’s Award Saturday, Jan. 25. It was an unprecedented second President’s Award in a ceremony where only one is traditionally given.

Taylor is McNary’s choir director and under his wing, the program’s reputation has spread far, wide and up. It was deemed the best in the state a few years ago and regularly elicits the favor of competition judges.

Start with the everyday that isn’t. Walk into his choir room at the beginning of class and you won’t always find Taylor there at the front. Student leaders often take on the job of getting voices tuned up and preparing for the rest of the lesson. Taylor is adept at singling out the ones who can command fellow students’ respect for their talents and couple it with a get-it-done work ethic. It’s a partnership that often starts early.

Taylor first learned of sophomore Lily Tipton’s middle school struggles when she was in seventh grade. Tipton had reached such a low that her moods began affecting the mood of an elder friend in Taylor’s classes. Taylor took notice, then action.

“He went to talk to her and then he came to me,” Tipton said. “But it wasn’t parental, it was ‘Hey, I’m here as a friend.’”

Tipton still counts Taylor among the friends she can talk to, but she didn’t join the choir program until this year.

“He just told me to audition. I turned bright red and I was so nervous, I probably sounded terrible. But he gave me the chance and helped me, and I still feel like I can talk to him about anything.”

That deep level of caring – more than one student called it Taylor’s love for them – reveals itself in a variety of ways.

“There’s a lot people don’t know about him. He can come off as intimidating, but he’s actually really fun and he makes class fun while we’re getting better and smarter,” said Marissa Rodriguez.

Hannah Clow moved to the area 10 scant months ago, but she had no choir experience, she just wanted to be part of something great. It led her to Taylor’s door.

“He’s a great man. He will accept who you are, what you are and in any form you are. He’ll just love you to death,” Clow said.

But Taylor also knows how to lay down the law, Clow said, and expects students to live into his expectations for them.

“Every day, before we leave class, we have to repeat, ‘No drinking, no smoking, no drugs, no sex.’ He helps us all stay positive and adhere to our morals,” she said.

Taylor is adamant about students finding ways to stay engaged and involved with school, and avoid the temptations that lay outside the building. The result is his students find themselves reaching further than they thought themselves capable of.

Brianna Koch had deep-seated fears about auditioning for the All-City choir; it threatened to put her in a spotlight she was uncomfortable assuming.

“He encouraged us all to try out. I was going to chicken out and I was about to cry, but he told me, ‘You have a good voice and you can do this,’” Koch said. “I didn’t end up getting a part, but he helped me build my own confidence. As a teacher, that’s a big thing.”

Taylor managed something similar with Hannah Samples, who never really thought about trying out for a play, much less a musical, but Taylor encouraged her to give it a try. She ended up with some small parts, but when an actor dropped out of a role in McNary’s production of Two Gentlemen from Verona, and director Dallas Myers needed to fill the role …

“My hand shot straight up. Before I met Mr. Taylor, that never would have happened,” Samples said.

It’s small expressions of care for students and their futures that, when taken as a whole, transforms students’ notions of what it means to be smart.

“When I think about how much I like choir, it’s because he makes us think in different ways. There are times when I feel like I’m really bad at school and I don’t have as many friends as I should, but I stay in to hear his stories about how choir has helped his other students,” said Jade Rayner. “He inspires me to be a better person.”

Most of Taylor’s classes revolve around music, of course, which he’s fond of saying is “a great way to get smart.” But the lessons he imparts often move students in directions other than they originally planned.

Matthew Bugado found himself roped into Taylor philosophies about music because of their power.

“Mr. Taylor had this idea that music is the thing that’s going to change the world. It’s not going to be war, it’s not going to be politics, it’s music that will make change happen. If world peace is possible it will be because of music not anything else,” Bugado said. “He wants people to be smarter because knowledge is the one thing that is truly yours.  He understands that and wants people to better themselves in every way possible.”

Bugado himself favors progressive metal, but Taylor’s teachings are infecting his work in that genre.

“My band is writing this song Within the Mizpah of Humanity. A mizpah is a connection between two people that have been separated emotionally or physically and we’re trying to incorporate that into something that can be life-changing,” Bugado said. “If we can influence one person that will be a win.”

Mark Pfeiffer (whose name has been changed to protect his privacy) wanted to be part of the next Imagine Dragons or the next Justin Bieber, but he now favors what he called “real music” and aspires to be a composer. The fact of the matter is, without Taylor’s involvement, Pfeiffer might not have been here to aspire to anything at all.

“He saved my life,” said Pfeiffer, who you get the feeling isn’t given to hyperbole. “I’ve spent the past four years battling drug addiction. I eventually got into a lot trouble with it. Mr. Taylor went out of his way for me. It was like something a father would do for his son, to save me.”

Taylor now serves as Pfeiffer’s accountability partner in keeping him clean, sober and engaged with opportunities that don’t allow for him to fall back on bad habits.

It might appear difficult to break all Taylor’s work down to a simple math, but try this: transcendental teaching equals transformed students.

High school years are only rarely easy for students. Pressure from friends, parents, teachers, on themselves and any other number of possible influences take a toll. Even for students like Julia Sjakovs, who is no stranger to the McNary stage, fears sometimes get the better of them. That was the case when she decided to try out for a lead, and singing, role in McNary’s production of Urinetown.

“I never had done a musical, but it was the best thing in the world hearing him say, ‘You’re doing good, kid,’” Sjakovs said. “He’s there for students and he’s not afraid to be close with us. That’s something people should know, that there are people out there like that.”

It’s as simple – and complex – as that.

After first CVC win Celts falter

Braden Taylor sneaks through the West Salem defense to put up a shot in the game Tuesday, Jan. 28. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Braden Taylor sneaks through the West Salem defense to put up a shot in the game Tuesday, Jan. 28. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

This is how a game disintegrates.

Start with the McNary High School boys varsity basketball team squaring off with South Salem High School Friday, Jan. 31. McNary keeps pace with the Saxons in the first frame, pulling away in the final minute on a three-point shot by Johnathan Doutt. It’s a lead the Keizer team will keep for the next three minutes before the Saxons tie it 18-18 on a lay-in.

Another three-pointer will put McNary up 23-20 less than 30 seconds later and the teams start a back-and-forth battle that will knot the game at 35-35 with less than a minute to go in the half.

A Celtic loose ball rolls nearly two-thirds of the way back to the Celts’ side of the court with seconds remaining. A Saxon player grabs it and hits one from the paint to take a 37-35 lead.

“We came out and executed our gameplan pretty well. Our defense wasn’t what it needed to be, but we competed and hit our shots,” said Ryan Kirch, McNary head coach.

This close score is no small feat against the third-best team in the state according to the latest rankings, but it’s also not a huge surprise. The last time the teams met, the Celts surprised South with a much closer score than any would have anticipated. The team hasn’t let any opponent since off easy even though wins eluded them.

This time, McNary is coming off it’s first league win, a 68-54 victory over West Salem High School. The already electrifying team gave attendees in the West game one for the highlight reels as Celts Braden Taylor and Tregg Peterson pulled off an alley-oop so easily that one would have thought it was a common occurrence.

Then the third quarter with South happens. Three minutes expire and South is on a run of 11 unanswered points.

“When you turn it over to them, they’re going to capitalize. In the second half we lacked energy. We thought we could hang with them and things started spiraling out of control,” Doutt said.

As frustration grows on the Celtic side of the court, shots are hurried and players are taking anything resembling a good look because South’s run is still growing. Even the Celtic shots that look good seem to bounce off an invisible lid.

By the time Doutt draws a foul, hits two from the line and stops the hemorrhaging with 1:24 left in the third quarter, the Saxons are 28 points ahead and well on their way to a 92-57 blowout.

“Both halves were a wake-up call,” said Celt Braden Taylor. “In the first half, we learned that we can beat any team in this league and play every possession with them. In the second half, we learned what happens when we lose even a little bit of focus.”

Doutt ended the night with 20 points, Taylor had eight, Trent Van Cleave had six, Cade Goff and Tregg Peterson had five each, Hayden Gosling and Devon Dunagan put up four apiece, Austin Stone and Connor Goff had two each, and Drew McHugh hit one from the foul line.

“I was more disappointed in our response. We looked shell-shocked and scared. They were 16 of 17 and we couldn’t make a basket. I was frustrated in that, from the first game, we had been climbing as far as mental toughness and that game was a backstep,” Kirch said.

The game was a sharp turn from a mostly dominating performance against West Salem Tuesday, Jan. 28. In that contest, McNary took an early lead and only let up briefly in the second frame as the Celtics won 68-54.

“Finally,” Doutt said. “I thought we got out in transition. They’re big, but we thought we could beat them up and down the floor so that’s what we did.We also met our goal of getting in 12 assists.”

One of those assists was the aforementioned alley-oop, which brought the crowd to its feet. Kirch said the team had talked about the possibility of using Peterson’s dunking ability, but didn’t call for the play until that game.

“We hadn’t really prepared for it. I didn’t see Tregg cut for the basket, I lost him in a couple of people, but I knew it was about the time he should be there so I let it loose. I thought I threw it way too hard,” Taylor said. Peterson grabbed it in the air and slammed it home.

Doutt had a 31-point game, Dunagan and Van Cleave had 11 each, Peterson had nine and Taylor had eight.

“For the most part we executed as perfectly as we could and controlled the game the entire time. They were bigger than us, but we were able to spread the field, then get to the free throw line late in the game and put it away,” Kirch said.

While many were disappointed in the second half of the South game, Taylor said not to count the Celtics out just yet.

“Right now we’re focused on the games ahead, and hoping to get the chance to face South again in the CVC tournament,” he said.

City fights back in Rawlins case


Of the Keizertimes

With the possibility of state laws restricting Local Improvement Districts (LID), Keizer officials are fighting back.

City Attorney Shannon Johnson and City Manager Chris Eppley have been meeting with legislators and released documents regarding the Rawlins property in Keizer Station, which is at the heart of the potential state law changes in House Bill 4017.

Johnson said Tuesday morning he and Eppley met with state representatives Brian Clem and Kevin Cameron last week, then met with John Davis on Monday.

“We have requested meetings with the other members of the Rural Communities Committee, but nothing is scheduled yet,” Johnson said. “The intent of the meetings is to point out the problems with the portion of HB 4017 that attempts to void the city’s LID lien against the Rawlins property.”

Though the ongoing saga between the city and the Rawlins family dates back to 2005, the issue became more heated last year when the Rawlins family went to state lawmakers to protest LID charges on their Keizer Station property, which sat undeveloped while surrounding parcels were built on.

A letter addressed to city leaders last June from state Sen. Tim Knopp and Rep. Gene Whisnant called into question the $6.7 million LID on the property.

“The Rawlins are a family of modest means, and we have been told that the amount of the LID greatly exceeds the Rawlins’ ability to pay the assessment,” the letter read in part. The letter also stated the LID was placed on the property “over their strenuous objections.”

Attorneys for both sides attempted to negotiate a settlement last year, to no avail.

Last week, for the first time, Johnson released a timeline for the Rawlins LID, dating back to when the Keizer Station LID process was started in early 2005.

According to the timeline, the Rawlinses challenged the LID by filing a lawsuit in circuit court and appealed to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) in mid-2005. Later that year the two sides entered into settlement discussions.

In October 2005, the Rawlinses and Chuck Sides’ company Northwest National LLC entered into a long-term ground lease on the two parcels of land.

“The lease provides that Northwest National will pay the LID assessments and property taxes on the Rawlins’ properties, along with net rent to Rawlins of $12,500 per month for the first year and $25,000 per month thereafter,” Johnson wrote.

The timeline then notes the Rawlinses agreed to dismiss the lawsuits and LUBA appeal in November 2005. Both parties signed a settlement agreement allowing the city to make improvements in the LID and to assess construction costs against the Rawlins properties.

Work between November 2005 and December 2007 resulted in “significant sewer, water, storm drain and transportation infrastructure” being done. According to the timeline, the Rawlins properties were assessed at $256,920 in 2006 by Marion County but $7 million after the improvements.

In February 2008, the properties were assessed at approximately $6 million. The timeline notes the Rawlinses did not object to the assessment. From then until August 2010, LID payments were made.

Last spring, city leaders began a foreclosure process on the LID assessments after nearly three years without payments.

Johnson further noted rent payments to the Rawlins continued even though LID payments stopped.

“The total estimated rent paid to the Rawlins is in excess of $2 million,” Johnson wrote. “The Rawlins have never paid or offered to pay any of the LID assessments. The Rawlins purchased the subject properties for $139,500 in 1994.”

Johnson summed up his case thusly: “If the LID lien is voided, it would mean the Keizer taxpayers pay $6 million and the Rawlins make nearly $2 million and still keep their property.”

Johnson also released the city’s pleas entered into record last month in Marion County Circuit Court.

Keizer Mayor Lore Christopher made mention of the issue at the end of Monday’s Keizer City Council meeting.

“It’s easy to understand,” she said. “The attachment of the recent plea is so good. It completely tells the story. Folks, for first time, we’ve told the story and showed everything that has transpired. We worked diligently to work with these people. It certainly tells a compelling story. We worked with the people and we did everything right.”

Dietrich pleads guilty; avoids jail time

Keizer's Michael W. Dietrich (left) and attorney Paul Ferder listen to Judge Thomas Hart in Marion County Circuit Court Tuesday. Dietrich pleaded guilty to eight charges. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Keizer’s Michael W. Dietrich (left) and attorney Paul Ferder listen to Judge Thomas Hart in Marion County Circuit Court Tuesday. Dietrich pleaded guilty to eight charges.
(KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

Michael Wayne Dietrich, the Keizer Department of Revenue manager accused of producing counterfeit currency in his Keizer home and then tampering with evidence after police secured the location, pled guilty to several charges Tuesday afternoon.

Dietrich, 30, is on probation for three years but will not serve additional jail time. He had served some jail time since his arrest last October.

Dietrich, represented by attorney Paul Ferder, appeared in front of Judge Thomas Hart in Marion County Circuit Court.

Ferder painted a picture of a longtime, steadily employed young man letting curiosity get the best of him.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Ferder said. “Mr. Dietrich had a fascination with currency and whether or not it could be replicated. He took it upon himself to do that. He wanted to see if he could produce bills that could pass the muster. There were others in this endeavor. Some have been arrested, some have not.”

Much of the short hearing consisted of Hart reading statements about the case, then asking Dietrich to confirm or deny the statements. Most of Dietrich’s responses were brief and soft spoken.

One of the exceptions was when Hart asked Dietrich if he was pleading guilty because he was indeed guilty.

“I unlawfully possessed methamphetamine and in my residence I possessed forged instruments,” Dietrich responded.

According to detectives with the Keizer Police Department, officers secured the Modena Avenue home of Dietrich and wife Melissa on the morning of Oct. 9. Dietrich was accused of entering the home via the back door – unbeknownst to officers watching the front of the house – and destroying evidence.

Dietrich was arrested at his home the following afternoon and charged with 52 counts of forgery, 52 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument and one count each of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, tampering with physical evidence and first degree burglary.

Counterfeit currency, mainly $20 and $50 U.S. bills, were found when police searched the residence.

On Tuesday, Dietrich pled guilty to five counts of forgery and one count each on the other three charges.

At one point, Hart talked to Dietrich about going into his house last October after police were waiting for a search warrant.

“Police officers told you to not go back in, correct?” Hart asked.

After a quiet yes from Dietrich, Hart continued.

“And you went back in?” the judge asked.

“I went back in, yes,” Dietrich replied.

Hart then asked a follow-up question.

“You went in with the idea of getting rid of things that didn’t look so good, right?” the judge asked.

“Yes,” Dietrich replied.

Ferder noted Dietrich will reside in his parents’ house on Stone Hedge Drive. His father has pledged to keep his guns secured in a locked cabinet, the attorney added.

Go back to original toy plan

Those who are leading the planning for the Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park should go back to the consultant’s original site and be done with it.

Mayor Lore Christopher threw a wrench into the works several weeks aago when she publicly announced she didn’t like any of the three sites for the large playground suggested by Leathers and Associates, the east coast consultant hired at the rate of $32,000 to help the city plan and build the toy.

The mayor gave several reasons why she preferred a site in the northern part of Keizer Rapids Park, abutting Chemawa Road—including the fact that it would be more visible than sites deep in the park. One of the problems is that the area the mayor prefers is filled with hazelnut trees.  Another problem is that the site, though in Keizer city limits, is not within Keizer’s Urban Growth Boundary.

The mayor and some councilors are pushing Community Development Director Nate Brown to complete the arduous task of working with three other governments to get approval for expansion of the urban growth boundary by this summer so the original September schedule of construction of playground can be met. That is a tall order.

As he pointed out at this week’s council session,  Brown told the council that there are a number of important projects his department is working on, some of which would have to be pushed back into 2015 to accommodate this new ‘rush’ job. No playground is so important that it will bump important and mandated projects from being completed.

We think it is time to put this entire playground project back on its original track, build it at the suggested site in the park between the amphitheatre and the boat ramp.

City manager Chris Eppley wisely  stated that at times Keizer has to play catch up with the enthusiastic desires of community volunteers.  The big playground project came from the suggestion of a private citizen and it then took on a life of its own.

Somewhere along the timeline of the project a promise was made to Keizer citizens, playground supporters and volunteers that the big toy would be built in September of this year. In Keizer, we endeavor to keep our promises. That promise is in danger of being broken if the council and the playground task force insist on rushing the urban growth boundary expansion to site it in a location that was never on the consultant’s or task force’s original plan.

The wheels of government turn slowly; it’s hard to envision all of the steps of the UGB expansion process falling perfectly into place without any hiccups.  The city and playground backers should realize this and get the project going.

As soon as possible the city council should give approval for the playground at the chosen site inside the park; stop the rush on the UGB expansion for the 28 acres of the orchard into the park.

As the proposed design shows, the playground is large and will become a destination for children of all ages. Placing it for maximum visibility doesn’t make sense down at the park: the park sits at the end of dead end road. Visibility is important to attract passers-by—that’s not the case at Keizer Rapids Park. Even located on Chemawa Road in the northside of the park, people won’t see it unless they are already heading for the park.

In these early months of the year the focus should be on the fund raising for the project, which includes soliciting donations as well as garnering grants.

Let’s stop this folly of getting a UGB expansion at the park and let the Community Development Department work on the projects that are already in the pipeline.


Teachers are not the problem

To the Editor:

To those who denigrate teachers in the mass media:

You clearly haven’t set foot in a classroom since you were a student. If you had, you would have immediately been impressed by a group of professionals, who among other things, at differing times for each of the more than 220 students whom they nurture daily: listen to the cry of their broken hearts, bandage their cuts, give them food when … they’ve forgotten their lunches, hug them, feel their tears burn our cheeks, and feel a helpless anger at the situations in which the adults around them have placed them.

Teachers earn advanced degrees, annually pursue continuing education, attend IEP meetings, collaborating with parents and other professionals to meet special needs, differentiate instruction to make it accessible to every learner, go to trainings, staff meetings, department meetings, PLT meetings, lesson plan, and grade all of their papers, every day. They attend their students’ weddings, funerals, and the events in between, stay in touch with them, and welcome their visits for years after graduation. They do it because they love the children who depend on them for, among other things, consistency, hope, and a feeling of home.

Perhaps a modicum of gratitude, rather than a steady media diet of How Teachers Are Failing Our Kids might be in order; I certainly went to the best schools, and very rarely did my teachers compare to the caliber of educator that I see in our schools today.

Carla A. Bell, Ph.D.

Cover Oregon just latest of Gov’s messes

Okay, Governor Kitzhaber, cutting you some slack, we can agree that Oregon is no New Jersey.  However, the differences are not flattering for you.  After all, while New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie rules by heavy-handed commission you take a quieter path and try to avoid fault for failures by omission.  Meanwhile, he’s a boisterous bully while you do your dirty work behind the scenes; yet, your results are no less destructive than his by way of the number of people you both hurt.

To employ a fancy Harvard Business School descriptor, Mr. Kitzhaber, your management skills stink. You championed for years the idea that we’d have a working online healthcare marketplace in Oregon through your re-election.  To the contrary, we have a monumental disaster for which you keep saying you are not responsible when, in fact, if you’d been doing your job and managing the people you appointed to head Cover Oregon, it could be working rather than having a shockingly high-priced engine without spark plugs.

Then there’s the Employment Department.  It spent millions on a computer software program that lingered for years without so much as a just-wait-a-minute-here message from you to stop the money-wasting foolery.  How long was this matter to fester before you did anything?  In fact, it was others who blew the whistle and actually forced your hand to take action while technology incompetency there and decadent rule by neptotism was like a plague of cockroaches.

For another example of your lack of management knowledge, skill and ability, there’s the education reform you promised by Rudy Crew who you hired and placed in charge and by which he was given a $280,000 vacation at Oregon taxpayer expense.  And you haven’t uttered even one word of apology regarding this unproductive person whose reputation for disappointing was well known from elsewhere, a guy under contract who ran around the country for speaking fees, promoting his future job prospects.  Where were you for the entire year Crew did nothing?  Is Archimedes to blame?

We recently learned that your Department of Corrections has so mishandled information about an attempted prison escape that the state Justice Department had to step in to order documents be made public.  Again, why is it that an state executive department agency must be set straight by the state’s judicial branch of government?  This is truly deplorable management characterized by totally head-shaking misconduct.

Then there’s the millions spent on your favorite bridge project at which the state of Washington legislature has thrown a Bronx cheer.  They won’t fund their share of the arguably not-needed and poorly planned “white elephant” but you keep wasting your time and our money, presumably due to ego too large to recognize its defeat when you’ve already been handed your head on an imaginary Columbia River piling that will rot in river bottom muck before it supports a Columbia River Crossing.

Throughout the last four years Oregon has improved in job creation only very marginally, hardly noticeably, and that may be attributed to the number of former working people in this state who’ve left or have given up in what amounts to the poverty-stricken heartbreak of job-search-defeat.  Education and infrastructure progress: please show me!  Unless an Oregonian resides in Portland and some of its metro area he will look long and hard to see any indication of improvements in the economy and personal lives better off.

John Kitzhaber is best known to me for his efforts to make more personal income through promotion of his Archimedes Movement, aka, health care reform movement, and his betrayal of contractual retirement benefits for former state workers who put 30 years in at relatively low pay, trying to help Oregonians enjoy a good place to live.  Alternatively, there’s the GOP’s Dennis Richardson from Central Point, an apparently avowed, dedicated Libertarian and arch-conservative who seeks through implementing those beliefs to end the state government’s social programs.

This place can get even uglier in Oregon’s second decade of the 21st century.  Stay tuned!

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)

Left turn in the emerging markets


There’s a new cynical perception among international investors that Brazil is becoming Argentina, and Argentina is becoming Venezuela. But these investors are starting to boycott all the so-called emerging markets, since nearly all of them are moving to the left, abandoning free-market principles, reverting to the bad old days of higher spending and taxing, inflating the money supply, accumulating large trade deficits and letting their currencies go to hell in a hand basket.

In other words, the emerging-market investment paradigm, or the BRIC (Brazil, Russian, India, China) model, may be over.

Toward the end of last week, the U.S. stock market sold off nearly 500 points. Much of the blame has been placed on the collapse of the emerging-market currencies. Correct. The emerging-market tail was wagging the U.S. stock market dog.

We all know the Fed is playing a role in this as it tapers its bond purchases and injects less new cash into the economy. In recent years, some of that Fed-created excess liquidity has gone into emerging-market investments. But now, as the Fed begins to wind down, it’s as if the tide is going out to sea and revealing all the countries that left their bathing suits behind.

In other words, the left turn of many emerging-market nations is now naked for all to see. High inflation, crashing currencies, trade protectionism and economic redistribution are not the policies that grew these economies over the years and attracted investment. (South Korea, by the way, is a notable exception.)

You can go down the list. Argentina is on the verge of collapse under the left-wing populism of the Kirchner regime. Travelling leftward from Lula to Rousseff, Brazil has built a huge current-account deficit while pulling back on free trade. In India, free-market policies have stalled, and if the Gandhis return to power, so will their socialist approach. And for various political and cultural reasons, the Erdogan government in Turkey has been moving hard to the left, all while the Turkish economy deteriorates. Turkey’s central bank may defend the lira with higher interest rates, but that tightening will worsen the economy and the political situation.

China, it’s important to note, has a different problem than these other emerging markets. The Peoples Bank of China is cutting back on liquidity and credit in the so-called shadow banking system. And while the Chinese economy is not plunging into recession, its growth has dropped from 12 to 7 percent. China’s slowdown remains a threat to the U.S. as well as the other emerging markets.

Fortunately, Europe’s economy is beginning to look better around the edges. So is Japan’s, following that nation’s massive monetary pump priming. And while some may disagree, the U.S. economy looks to be getting better, despite tax hikes, Obamacare and new regulations.

But the biggest challenge of our time is not income inequality or taxing the rich. It’s economic growth for the long run. Looking globally, the challenge is maintaining the liberal economic order, with free markets and free trade at the center.

But now we’re seeing developing countries such as India, Brazil, Argentina and Turkey move away from free markets and free trade, and from the very principles that attracted capital, ignited their growth and stabilized their currencies.

In the last couple of decades, hundreds of millions of the ultra-poor were lifted into the middle class as developing nations around the world moved towards free-market capitalism. But right now I must warn investors: Stay out of the emerging markets. They’re going the wrong way.

(Creators Syndicate)

Fred Baker

F. Baker
F. Baker

Fred Baker of Keizer, 56, was born in Eugene on June 14, 1957 to Darlene Anderson.

He had five siblings and is survived by two sisters (Gloria and Sherry) and a brother (David). He raised a wonderful daughter (Amanda) and two sons (Patrick and Jesse).

Fred has nine beautiful grandchildren: Drake, Paige, Cloe, Julianna, Jade, Christian, Trenten, Gavins and baby Violet.

Fred loved singing and playing guitar and just spending time with friends.

Family and friends are encouraged to celebrate his life on Feb. 15 at 4:30 p.m. at Virgil T. Golden Funeral Home.