As always, if you are overly earnest, easily offended, or otherwise take yourself too seriously, you should really stop reading my pieces. I hear there’s good stuff on TV these days.
So every time I write something controversial on BlueOregon, I get a number of winks, nods, and friendly emails. People willing to say, privately, that yes they do indeed agree with me. But, they add, you can’t say that in public.
Well, you may have noticed, I’m not very good at keeping my mouth shut. And there are a number of things that ought to be said, nay need to be said, in public. Since our elected leadership has, for the most part, avoided these issues like the plague, it falls to us to say them. We have a lot to gain, and very little left to lose.
C’mon, you know the words.
Sales tax. Oregon’s tax structure, as is, doesn’t work, and you’ve been squirreled away in a hole in the ground if you missed that. There are plenty of ways to make a sales tax less regressive – even Texas has figured that part out. It can also be tied to a reduction in income tax. It would mean constant stable revenue for the state, which is exactly what we need. Props out to Sen. Frank Morse for sacking up and saying so in public.
Taxes are an investment. They pay for things we want and need, things like roads and cops and schools. We need to stop talking about “living within our means” and start talking about getting more means, providing ourselves with more means, so that we can live better.
Measure 5 screwed schools. Education is actually one the few problems that gets better if you throw money at it. We can discuss efficiencies in other arenas; what our schools need is more cash. It seems ridiculous to have to say, again, that education is the foundation for a strong economy, that it attracts smart parents and creates smart future leaders, that without it we’re headed straight for Mississippi, and that it costs money to avoid that southbound turn and head back up to what a real education system ought to be. It’s possible to have an education system with small classes, full school years, and well-rounded inspiration, but you get what you pay for. The legislature should give the voters the opportunity to take back Measure 5. The voters, if they are really as interested in the “quality of life” of Oregon as they claim to be, should be willing to pay for good schools for everyone.
The kicker is retarded. Not retarded in the offensive actually developmentally disabled way; retarded in the colloquial “that’s stupid” way, and retarded in the Oxford English “has impeded advancement and accomplishment” way. And I mean the personal kicker, not just the corporate kicker. It’s bad policy to prevent the state from saving money, it’s draconian policy to prohibit the state from paying for necessary services (be that education or health care or whatever), and it’s just plain dumb to think that somehow your kickback of a couple hundred dollars will do more if it’s in your pocket instead of pooled and leveraged with the dollars of all your friends and neighbors. I know it’s hard to not be selfish about money, and getting rid of the corporate kicker should be an easy sell (out of state big corporations are bad bad bad) but we need to get rid of the personal kicker too. Nobody else is going to invest in our state and our community if we don’t.
Look to other states for ideas. The neat thing about federalism, part of it’s very reason for being (so said those founder guys anyway) is that the states can act like little laboratories and try different things and then share their good ideas and other states can adopt those good ideas once the kinks have been worked out. This notion is particularly difficult for Oregonians, who love to be first (i.e. bottle bill, vote-by-mail) and to be special (i.e. death with dignity) but are loathe to admit that other states might have some good ideas too. If a proposal has proved disastrous in other states (i.e. TABOR) then it’s probably not a good idea here. If a proposal has worked in other states (i.e. sales tax) then let’s not reinvent the wheel or pretend like it doesn’t exist or get all stubborn just for the sake of being contrary, let’s look at how other states do it and pull the best of their accumulated experience together and use it to make it work for Oregon.
Pumping my own gas should not be a crime. Forty-eight states have managed to make it happen without the litany of terrible horrible very bad things that are prophesied if Oregon were to repeal this ban on self-sufficiency. Jobs and unemployment in those other forty-eight remain stable, higher and lower (respectively) than they are in Oregon. Little old ladies somehow manage to still drive, their eyesight causing more consternation than the complexities of the pump. And dry cleaners have seen no influx of petroleum stained suits. Ok, so this is a pet peeve, but really people – it’s not that hard!
Leaving aside that last one, this my list of topics absurdly avoided by the politically correct. I know that there are a number of Oregonians who want to talk about these things, I’ve heard them say so in private. It’s time we said so in public.