Dear Oregon PSR Supporter,
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us all. In my work as a surgeon, I am inspired to see the collective work of everyone in the hospital. Nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, x-ray technicians, house cleaners, and so many more are all pulling together to care for the sick and injured despite personal risk. Health care workers are putting the needs of our communities first, despite the challenges of limited supplies of personal protective equipment and a paucity of COVID-19 tests. Our entire community is stepping up and making major sacrifices by closing businesses and staying home from work. Community members are pitching in by making masks and gowns.
While the people of this country are pulling together and making sacrifices, this crisis is laying bare many of the failings of our current political and economic systems. A massive and largely problematic bailout bill has been rushed through Congress, yet no major federal legislation has been passed to deal with the actual pandemic. The ongoing pandemic has exposed many of the deep structural flaws in our society, a society that puts short-term corporate profits over the health, safety, security, and economic well-being of the vast majority of people. The US military budget is an obscene $700 billion dollars a year, and that money seems particularly poorly spent at a time when we are short on the ventilators, masks, gowns, and gloves that people need to protect themselves.
At Oregon PSR we are working to create a more healthy, just, and peaceful world. The kind of world where we stockpile medical supplies, not nuclear weapons; where we bailout the people, not the billionaires; where we avoid an economic depression with a Green New Deal, not disaster capitalism; where we send public health officials and medicines overseas, not soldiers and weapons; where we are building hospitals and shuttering military bases, and where we are putting up windmills and solar panels, not building more pipelines and fracking wells.
We are determined to continue to meet these challenges, bringing a strategic, justice-based approach rooted in public health and medicine to our organizing efforts, building meaningful relationships with our coalition partners and the communities most affected by the issues we confront, and growing as a trusted regional leader in the movements for nuclear disarmament and a healthy climate. We must reprioritize public spending away from subsidizing the fossil fuel, nuclear, and weapons industries and towards protecting and providing for the well-being of all.
We know that allocating adequate funding for local and state health departments to identify, prepare for, monitor, and respond to emerging threats, whether pandemics, climate change, or nuclear war, should take precedence over corrupt corporate handouts, and we are working to bring about that much-needed radical shift in local, state, and national legislative and spending priorities.
This issue of The Folded Crane, which we are sending in e-format for public health considerations, is full of stories of our ongoing work. Now is the time to lean into this work. As an organization, we rely on your personal involvement and your financial support. Organizing looks a little different in the time of COVID-19, but we are making it work with conference calls and online meetings.
I want to thank each and every one of you for the work you are doing to address the COVID-19 crisis and the crises of climate change, nuclear war, militarism, and environmental degradation. I am honored to be standing shoulder to shoulder with all of you - even if we are in homemade masks and gowns - in creating a better, safer, healthier, and more just world. Thank you so much, and we look forward to continuing to work with you.
Patrick O’Herron, MD, Oregon PSR Board President
Photo above: Oregon PSR Board President Pat O'Herron, MD, with his daughter Violet at Muir Woods.