We Need More Government. Parts 1 and 2

Chuck Sheketoff

threereagansPart 1: RR’s Lesson.

The revisionist history and flag waving when Reagan died was disgusting, especially given his role in creating the mess we are in today in the Middle East and here in Oregon.

Reagan got rid of the “fairness doctrine,” opening the door for Rush and Lars and their ilk. Under the fairness doctrine radio stations had to give balance to political issues, defined as controversial issues of public importance. So, in the mid- to late-1970s when a Vermont utility ran pro-nuclear power advertisements, our small public interest group in Montpelier demanded and received free advertising, one or two ads for every 3 or 4 of theirs, if memory serves me well on the ratio.

The demise of the fairness doctrine opened the door for the privatization of the public airwaves, and the poisonous, one-sided echo chamber spewed on billionaire Paul Allen’s KXL and other stations. Reagan’s death reminded me once again that what we need is more government to give the airwaves back to the public. Bring back the fairness doctrine.

Reagan’s oft quoted line “government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem” comes from part of his inaugural when he discusses the rampant inflation of the 1970s. This became the rallying call of the Right and a mantra continuing today against virtually all government action in support of the common good. The Federal Reserve is a powerful government entity. If Reagan and others didn’t like the monetary policy that contributed to high inflation, what was needed was more government control over the powerful, and often too independent, Fed, not less.

Oregon Public Broadcasting has bemoaned being cut off from state funding – just the sort of thing Reagan and his legacy sought to accomplish. Sadly and ironically, OPB radio aired ad nausea the funeral proceedings. They didn’t have to – NPR sent them and other public radio stations two feeds that day. KLCC (out of Eugene with transmitters in Bend and the coast) showed better judgment and chose to give its listeners the regular news broadcasts. Frankly, I can’t think of a good reason for a public radio station to honor the death of the person responsible for taking away their public funding. Shame on OPB. I’m voting with my pocketbook next time my OPB membership comes due or they pitch for funds and mention the lack of state dollars. And when I’m in KLCC’s earshot, I also vote with my radio dial.

Part 2: Let them swim and get sick.

unsafewaterThis past weekend Multnomah County health officials closed Blue Lake to swimming due to pollution. I don’t know how long it will be before it’s declared safe to use the lake again. As the libertarian, anti-government cabal – Cascade Policy Institute, Don McIntire’s Taxpayer Association of Oregon, Brainstorm Magazine and others – gather for their annual Lazy Fair picnic (admittedly a cute choice in names; will all the chicken that’s served be right wings?) at Blue Lake August 1, I wonder if they will heed the government’s warning. But for the public health analysis the Lazy Fair picnic attendees would never know whether the lake was safe. Given the Lazy Fair sponsors’ effort to repeal the temporary tax hike in Multnomah County and their disdain for the government, maybe county health officials ought to post a sign on the 1st that due to pending budget cuts the Lazy Fair picnic participants will have to swim at their own risk, or go to the expense of doing the test themselves. Wouldn’t that be poetic justice and help drive home the message to those who think government is the problem that they are dead (or at least sickly) wrong?

Stay tuned.

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    The most damaging thing the "small government" movement accomplished was crushing dialogue among regular citizens. The effect in Oregon has been devastating. During the great civic era of Oregon politics, we all agreed that we could make things better. Thanks to the Reagan critique, many Oregonians now think solutions can't come from the civic sphere--they must come from individuals and businesses. It's the free-marketization of governance. The polarization, the gridlock, and the vitriol are all blossoms from this evil seed.

    Oregonians once believed we could make our state a model for the country. Until we start believing that again, we're going to become a model of dysfunction.

  • brett (unverified)

    Jesus. 1) Conservatives have no place on the airwaves. 2) Because they oppose a 1.25% county income tax, unique in Oregon, conservatives should get E. Coli. Nice site you've got going here. Shouldn't be called Blue Oregon, though -- should be called Red Oregon.

    The polarization, the gridlock, and the vitriol are all blossoms from this evil seed

    I see. The right is responsible for everyone's problems, is that it? No blame to the likes of M. Moore?

    crushing dialogue among regular citizens

    You don't want dialogue. You want people to accept that "we need more government", and if they don't, they're automatically lumped in with McIntire/Rush/Hannity/etc. If this site represents your idea of dialogue, you have no idea what dialogue is.

  • Pliny (unverified)

    Pottymouth McIntire. I always giggle a little when I see his name. It warms my heart to remember him being run out of Monmouth on a rail after using some Cheney-esqe vocabulary in a debate with the mayor.

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    I'll keep talking as long as you will. At present, we've got 24 people over in the left-hand column. I assume some of them are going to say things I disagree with, perhaps in ways I disagree with. But stong opinions vividly advocated are a part of healthy dialogue. You're right to call someone on sloppy ad hom attacks, but I see none in this post.

    As for the "evil seed" comment--I stick by it. It's been a generation since liberals had any influence in government, a period exactly coinciding with the debasement of civic discussion. It's fine to disagree--it's the scorched-earth rhetoric that isn't okay.

    I want dialogue, and I'll tell you what: you let me speak for myself, and I'll let you speak for yourself. Let's talk. Chuck argues we need more government. His given you a few good reasons. Why's he wrong?

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)


    Multi-part stories on the "need" for bigger government?

    I didn't quite realize the void Jack was leaving.

    I think I'd find more interesting topics at the "Lazy Fair".


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