Your super-human effort made the difference.

By Senator Peter Courtney (D-Salem). Senator Courtney is the President of the Oregon Senate.

Oregon shocked the world on Tuesday.

And make no mistake, the world was watching. Wednesday morning stories about the Oregon tax votes were carried in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Seattle Times, the Christian Science Monitor and The Huffington Post.

Pundits will argue that the lesson from Tuesday’s vote was either (1) that progressives rebounded quickly from the shocking loss of a once “safe” Democratic U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts or (2) that Oregon voters are on the leading edge of a populist revolt against big corporations and their wealthy CEOs.

If those who have watched us so closely only consider those things, however, they will miss the most important point. Oregon voted to keep funding our schools, health care for our children and to keep criminals locked inside prison walls because of a super-human effort by everyday people.

An army of volunteers knocked on 300,000 doors and made thousands and thousands of phone calls. They came. They worked. And they came back again. And again. And again.

They were led by a coalition of organizations that in other states fight each other for every scrap on the table. Instead of squaring off, Oregon’s teachers and nurses, corrections officers and college students joined hands and marched into battle. Sure, they got tired, but they never quit.

It was the most remarkable story of human effort in this state since she truly decided she wanted to fly with her own wings on that historic day on the banks of the Willamette River at Champoeg in 1843.

The lesson Oregonians should remember and other states should learn from Tuesday’s vote is that we did not succeed because of the structure of the revenue measures alone. It was also an incredible collaborative spirit and tireless work ethic that saved Oregon, my Oregon.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    When Jackson County pulled together a group to form a coalition for YES on M66/67 thirty people showed up from an amazing assortment of organizations across the county who all wanted to help. The sustained effort across the state to pass the measures is nothing short of stupendous. On to reforming the kicker or we'll be right back where we started in 2011.

    Best...

  • Jason (unverified)
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    Oregon? Try the Willamette Valley. Nearly every "other" corner of Oregon voted no.

    This is another example of how Portland-metro speaks for the entire state.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    On to reforming the kicker

    You mean, "eliminate", right? Just do it!

  • Glen Geller (unverified)
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    Jason, last time I checked (30 seconds ago) Columbia, Coos, Tillamook, Benton, Wasco, Lincoln and Hood River Counties are not in the Willamette Valley, yet they voted in favor of the measures. And Yamhill & Clackamas voted no by a narrow margin. Visit http://gov.oregonlive.com/election/ for a map with a breakdown of the county votes. Hover over a county to see the numerical breakdown.

  • (Show?)

    I couldn't agree more with Peter's comments. It was impressive and shows that campaigns count. It is not all about policy or ideology or the state of the world.

  • JTT (unverified)
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    It was the most remarkable story of human effort in this state

    Really, hyperbole much?

    that saved Oregon, my Oregon.

    I'm not sure "saved" is really the right idea. Perhaps "applied a temporary bandage for a hemorrhaging arterial bleed". We still woefully underfund higher education in this state. We still have some of the largest K-12 class sizes in the country. There is still A TON of work to "save" Oregon. Take a victory lap, but seriously get back to work.

  • pammy (unverified)
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    Thank you Senator Courtney for your leadership.

    I believe Oregon voters spoke loudly that we need to maintain and invest in critical services in order to pull Oregon out of this economic downturn. Schools, universities, quality care for older Oregonians and safe streets are all key to strong communities and families. As a business owner, I am happy to pay a little bit more to support my state and its people. While I personally would support a sales tax and kicker reform as long term solutions, I believe these two measure will help us get through the tough times without turning our backs on kids and seniors.

  • ralph (unverified)
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    Petey, I'm told of two companies today who are leaving for Arizona. Employee's, accountants, attorneys, will be let go here. I know you don't give a damn but thought you should know.

  • (Show?)

    Posted by: ralph | Jan 27, 2010 5:16:32 PM

    I call bullshit. Name them.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: JTT | Jan 27, 2010 4:29:42 PM There is still A TON of work to "save" Oregon. Take a victory lap, but seriously get back to work.

    Seconded. We need the legislature to address the larger structural needs for revenue. There are many ways that fundamental tax restructuring can be made more progressive, more advantageous to Oregon job growth, more equitable, etc.

    For example, tying business taxes to the number of jobs and wage/benefits of said jobs created in the state is but one big way to help it. Have a pretty hefty business tax as the baseline, and the more living wage jobs you carry on your payroll, the smaller your taxes, etc. Employ a crap load of Oregonians and pay them good wages, and you have very little if any business income taxes.

  • (Show?)

    the amounts levied by 67 are too small to drive anyone out of state. they were leaving anyway. the reason we won this election is because enough Oregonians saw thru the crap.

    anyone who was at the Wonder Ballroom last night knows this isn't hyperbole from Sen Courtney; he really does feel this way. and it is that big a deal: after M5, M11, tax reform losses, years of Minnis et al -- to have thousands of ordinary Oregon citizens come thru & create a victory where none was ever possible before, that is a damn big deal. one well worth being stunned over.

  • Jim (unverified)
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    Ralph,

    I'm told of ten companies that are relocating here from Arizona. That's eight more than you were told of leaving. I know you don't give a damn but thought you should know.

  • (Show?)

    At least two companies out in Hillsboro are expanding, fyi. Tom Hughes mentioned that to me a couple of weeks ago.

  • (Show?)

    Peter..... You and Dave gave us something that we could help share with our neighbors that made sense. It was worth all the effort when I walked into my classroom this morning. Don't ever stop fighting for our students.

  • (Show?)

    Peter..... You and Dave gave us something that we could help share with our neighbors that made sense. It was worth all the effort when I walked into my classroom this morning. Don't ever stop fighting for our students.

  • Ralph (unverified)
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    Jim @ Carla I learn quick from lestatdelc above so I call Bullshit. Name them.

    BTW you are all so angry after your wonderful win last night. Settle down.

  • (Show?)

    BTW, why would companies want to move to AZ which has a higher overall tax rate than Oregon?

  • Ralph (unverified)
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    lestatdelc, I have no idea, I was only told the info I provided above and it was none of my business to ask my sourcethe names of his clients leaving. I assure you, however, that my source was sincere and firsthand because he is losing clients.

  • (Show?)

    Ralph:

    I think you're projecting on the anger thing.

    To answer your question: Solarworld is expanding to a second facility on it's current campus. I can't remember the name of the other business off-hand, I'd have to ask Hughes. But they're expanding their facilities which are located off of Cornelius Pass Rd, near Liberty HS.

  • (Show?)

    Ralph:

    I think you're projecting on the anger thing.

    To answer your question: Solarworld is expanding to a second facility on it's current campus. I can't remember the name of the other business off-hand, I'd have to ask Hughes. But they're expanding their facilities which are located off of Cornelius Pass Rd, near Liberty HS.

  • Brian C. (unverified)
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    No doubt the pro 66/67 campaign was successful but only time will tell if it was a success. I'm hoping "Oregonians hike taxes" isn't the headline that resonates. Now that we have entered highest state income tax territory it's time to push the no sales tax angle hard. That's a hard sell as it's such a foreign concept to 90% of America.

  • Ralph (unverified)
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    Carla: I appreciate your candor. I would hope that ya'll would understand that as a businessman, who is in daily contact with other small business PEOPLE, when I tell ya that 66-67 is gonna affect Oregon in a negative way give me some slack.
    If in the fall of this year, if unemployment goes down substantially, I'll yield but not until then.

    Even your President tonight stated that small business was the engine that was gonna improve the national economy and talked about tax breaks. Interesting, considering that less than 24hrs ago ya'll were backslapping increased taxes, including those on Oregon small business.

    The SOTU has worn me out-Good night!

  • Todd Lursey (unverified)
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    [Off-topic gibberish deleted. -editor.]

  • Biz Owner (unverified)
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    Thank the Lord! At last companies like Nike and Intel will not get away with just paying $10 in taxes any longer!

  • Steve Marx (unverified)
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    "that saved Oregon"

    OK, let's see: 1) WE are taking $780M out of the economy to give to govt 2) We found out tyranny of the majority works 3) We found out when public employee unions outspend everyone else 4 to 1 they can make a point 4) When the PERS board meets Friday and doubles the contribution rate for govt employers. that $780M vanishes 5) Schools will be just as bad as they were before the vote 6) The legislature gets a one-inch patch for a two-foot hole and is still not addressing expenditures 7) Two years from now we have to find another minority to tax because it is "fair"

    Stip me when you get to the part where you saved Oregon. I can wait until you stop patting each other on the back.

  • Steve Marx (unverified)
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    "Solarworld is expanding to a second facility on it's current campus"

    Not bad, what'd that cost us - A $12M tax credit they sold to WalMart for $8M.

    You really should think before you make comments like this.

  • riverat (unverified)
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    "1) WE are taking $780M out of the economy to give to govt"

    And the government burns it to heat the capital? No, they pay wages to people who spend it in the private sector, they buy goods and services from the private sector, it brings in additional federal money with matching funds. How much business is lost by private firms when the state cuts spending?

  • jim (unverified)
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    On to the kicker....indeed. Bipartisan and widespread opposition to the kicker became evident in this election - the kicker is the sole reason we are at the point of repeatedly plugging holes in the budget.

    No other state would even consider putting something as idiotic as mandatory budget volatility in the Constitution.

    Let's coalesce around the proper modification, rainy day fund, etc and get this on the ballot.

    The kicker's days are numbered. It looks like Oregon is finally able to excise this albatross from its budget.

  • Steve Marx (unverified)
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    "How much business is lost by private firms when the state cuts spending?"

    Less than when they take that same $780M from the private sector. At least you unerstand now why the public employee unions threw every dime they could into this battle.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Steve,

    Do you believe all public employees allow their unions to think for them?

    That they care more about their union than about their job? Ever actually talked to a public employee?

    Do you really think ONLY the money won the campaign? In today's SJ someone said it was about conversations one on one.

    Rather than be angry, why not channel that anger?

    Volunteer at a private school, coach Little League, teach Sunday School, volunteer at a food bank (many churches have them), be a mentor to someone.

    Of course that is actual work and contact with the outside world.

    I work with teenagers. I am a part time employee and not a member of a union.

    But I really wonder how the people who complain about unions would hold up doing some of the jobs public employees do.

    Do you own a business? Do you want public employees as customers?

    Or do you want them treated as 2nd class citizens who don't have enough disposable income to patronize your business?

  • Ricky (unverified)
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    Well, I think the post is a little melodramatic and over-reaching, and our tax measures are just a blip when it comes to November and the mood of the other 49 states.

  • RyanLeo (unverified)
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    First, I want to say congratulations to the Oregon progressives and their supporters who worked tirelessly to make these measures pass. You showed up, put in your time, and made Measure 66 and Measure 67 a reality. The effect of your actions are felt outside of Oregon. See:

    http://www.calitics.com/diary/10992/oregon-voters-deliver-gamechanging-victory

    Second, the effects, beyond the State receiving more funding, of Measure 66 and Measure 67 are unknown at this point. Your typical knee-jerk, key board conservatives will go on their diatribe of how Measures 66 and 67 will keep Oregon in recession for a year or two more than the rest of the nation. Likwise, those who think that Measure 66 and 67 are a panacea for all funding issues may sorely be wrong in the next couple years.

    What is known, is that the campaign to pass Measure 66 and Measure 67 serve as lessons for how to run a successful, progressive ballot initiative campaign. Get your message out early, prop up a few sacred cows, and paint the other side as supporters of villainous entities such as big business who outsources to India, China and Pakistan at the first opportunity for lower wage workers and the treasonous rich who would be just as happy in Rio De Janeiro if it meant lower taxes.

    You are all serving as an example of the new denominator in Oregon politics. Reading NW Republican and the Oregon Catalyst, the OR GOP and their supporters seem to have this reactionary attitude of "waiting for it to get worse before it gets better." The OR GOP and their base are on their knees.

    I suggest you take the time and carefully knock them out so they don't get back up as they once were with the Mannixs, Sizemores, Scotts, Minnis and the other backward ass GOP establishment running the GOP into the ground just so that they can stay relevant and run to lose another Gubernatorial election.

    Start with the kicker and continue the heat on Sizemore so that he and his like minded ilk can never be catalysts in Oregon politics again.

    Good day :)

  • Steve Marx (unverified)
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    "Do you believe all public employees allow their unions to think for them? That they care more about their union than about their job? Ever actually talked to a public employee?"

    I think I said public employee unions outspent the competition 4 to 1 and they were pretty much the only money spent on the YES vote.

    I also think the unions really care more about benes than they do the taxpayers their members serve.

    While I think most members are conscientious, I think in large part they voted YES for tax increases that will mostly be used to shore up their benefits (at least that is my guess when the PERS board will elect to double employer contributions.)

    Yes, I have volunteered at a public school and I know public teachers who would rather send their own children to private schools (where teacher usually earn a lot less) because of their concern for the quality of education.

    Yes, I am self-employed, but I am not sure where you are going by asking if I have public employees as customers. They are as welcome as private employees. My sense is that is we left the tax dollars in private employee's pockets instead of paying more taxes it would probably give me more business.

    I would base this on the 20% increas in education spending that made no change in the classroom experience, but instead went for benefits. This tax increase will be spent the same way.

    Our legislature is bordering on malfeasance by looking for these patches instead of making systemic changes. Postponing any major decision on how we spend money is going to make it that much worse when it does happen.

    We can keep raising taxes, but is they do nothing about the cost of govt, it will all get eaten up before it makes any difference to the taxpayer in the services they get from govt.

  • Steve Marx (unverified)
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    "Or do you want them treated as 2nd class citizens who don't have enough disposable income to patronize your business?"

    BTW - I thinnk the avg pub employee makes more than the avg private employee in Oregon. In addition, pub employee benes (PERS and Health Insurance) are much better than the avg private employee.

    No, the answer is NOT for eveyron to become a pub employee.

  • Scott in Damascus (unverified)
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    "3) We found out when public employee unions outspend everyone else 4 to 1 they can make a point"

    False

    You really should think before you make comments like this.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Brian C. | Jan 27, 2010 8:10:51 PM No doubt the pro 66/67 campaign was successful but only time will tell if it was a success. I'm hoping "Oregonians hike taxes" isn't the headline that resonates. Now that we have entered highest state income tax territory it's time to push the no sales tax angle hard.

    Even after M66 & M67 we are nowhere near highest state income tax territory.

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    President Obama:

    "...the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America's businesses. But government can create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers... We should start where most new jobs do -- in small businesses, companies that begin when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream or a worker decides it's time she became her own boss..."
    
  • (Show?)
    Posted by: riverat | Jan 27, 2010 9:29:45 PM "1) WE are taking $780M out of the economy to give to govt" And the government burns it to heat the capital? No, they pay wages to people who spend it in the private sector, they buy goods and services from the private sector, it brings in additional federal money with matching funds.

    Thank you.

    It amazes me the non-think behind the blather of people who make nonsensical comments like the poster you are replying to. Apparently for folks like Steve Marx, money collected in tax revenues goes into a black hole never to return to earth. How helpful to the private sector would it be if the state would have laid off tens of thousands of the paying customers who buy goods and services if the measures failed? Those lost customers would only in turn cascade to cuts in private sector jobs, and a reccuring negative-feedback spiral.

    This is why public sector spending is necessary as a counter-cyclical force. We got out the great depression because of the largest public works program in human history (i.e. spending on WWII). Yet "conservative" economic theory is willfully obtuse in looking at the actual, real-world examples that prove their economic world-view is utter nonsense. It was b.s. under Hoover, under Reagan and under Bush. How many times do they need to be proven catastrophically wrong before they stop trying to sell their poisonous snake-oil (or more pointedly, the low-info voters stop buying it)...?

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Steve Marx | Jan 27, 2010 9:37:52 PM "How much business is lost by private firms when the state cuts spending?" Less than when they take that same $780M from the private sector.

    Nonsense. You are talking through your hat. Every dollar spent by the state goes back into the private sector eventually. In fact, it has a multiplier effect of something close to 3:1. You may want to read up on basic Keynesian economics.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: RyanLeo | Jan 28, 2010 12:36:30 AM Likwise, those who think that Measure 66 and 67 are a panacea for all funding issues may sorely be wrong in the next couple years.

    I know of nobody who fits that category. Even the most progressive and enthusiastic booster of passing these measures I have come across knows and acknowledges that these are bandages to get us through the current budgetary problems and that we need to address the real systemic problems of our revenue structure that repeatedly put us in these messes by scrapping the kicker which is just the first critical step in fixing our system.

  • Scott in Damascus (unverified)
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    "BTW - I thinnk the avg pub employee makes more than the avg private employee in Oregon. In addition, pub employee benes (PERS and Health Insurance) are much better than the avg private employee."

    False. AGAIN.

    But therein lies your problem - you don't "thinnk."

  • Frances (unverified)
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    I'll tell you why I voted yes. I didn't care for the ads threatening the loss of 70,000 jobs if we voted yes. After years of listening to politicians saying business must get tax breaks so they can "create" jobs, and then seeing that the jobs they were creating were in other countries, I voted out of spite (and to give those on unemployment a tax break). I have no job, my daughter in college has no job, many of her friend fellow students have no job. If someone has none and you "threaten" to make it less, the result is still none and I will likely laugh in your face about such a silly meaningless threat. If you want to use jobs as a "carrot", at some point there have to be real jobs provided. You need to prove you have a real carrot in your pocket for me if you want me to vote not to raise your taxes.

  • Scott in Damascus (unverified)
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    "After years of listening to politicians saying business must get tax breaks so they can "create" jobs, and then seeing that the jobs they were creating were in other countries, I voted out of spite (and to give those on unemployment a tax break). I have no job, my daughter in college has no job, many of her friend fellow students have no job. If someone has none and you "threaten" to make it less, the result is still none"

    Hey Phil Knight, I think Frances is looking at you!

  • Patrick Story (unverified)
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    Sen. Courtney,

    I think I'm accurate in reading your words "saved Oregon, my Oregon," as referring to how passing the measures pulled us back from the cliff on which the state budget tottered. It's not a permanent fix but it's what we needed to do about a crisis NOW. I'm very encouraged that the voters of our beautiful state will continue to support sensible tax reform.

  • riverat (unverified)
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    "I thinnk the avg pub employee makes more than the avg private employee in Oregon."

    I don't think any public employees make minimum wage. The public sector is heavier than most organizations in jobs like engineers, lawyers, scientists etc. It's more equivalent to compare it to Nike or Intel than the average for the state as a whole. I don't know how they compare but I wouldn't be surprised if the were higher than the public sector even if you ignore Phil Knight.

  • LT (unverified)
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    "businessman, who is in daily contact with other small business PEOPLE,"

    Gee!
    The reason I was less surprised by the result than some of my friends is that I had been in repeated contact with a family friend who has a small business( maybe 10 employees). When he responded to one of my emails with "have no objection to the taxes, although I have a C corp", I knew the measures had a chance.

    He is my favorite "one person focus group" swing voter--Kitzhaber and Gordon Smith in the 1990s, Bush and Hooley in 2004.

    There are partisans who don't want to believe such voters exist. But those of us who have friends like that say "you need to get out more".

    And folks wanting to win in the fall, here is a suggestion in 2 parts:

    1) conversations with friends (or co-workers, or whoever) who vote like my friend will give you a view of the world of ordinary folks that polls and phone banks can't match.

    2) public employees are part of the fabric of Oregon---the worker at the county elections office, the library employee, the part time school employee, the firefighter/paramedic, the law enforcement personnel, the legislative employees, etc.

    There are legislators and staffers who understand this, and make it clear that every registered voter is important, regardless of their line of work. (If some think private sector employees are more important than public sector employees, how do they treat YMCA and other nonprofit sector employees? As potential supporters, or as people to be ignored?)

    I have worked in all sectors (incl YMCA child care) and am tired of hearing that a person's worth is determined by who they work for.

  • cal hobson (unverified)
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    Although I am not an Oregon residence I have followed closely the recent vote to retain tax increases in support of important government services.

    What the citizens of Oregon have accomplished borders on a miracle in the current anti-tax hysteria sweeping the country.

    Fear not the naysayers, specifically those who say businesses will run from your state. If they do because of this vote you are better off without them. If they move just to move, say to Arizona, they will be greeted with a totally bankrupt state that is now down to selling its public buildings (state house and senate for example) to keep the lights on. I can see the flashing neon sign above the House: Welcome to your legislative building, courtesy of Burger King!!!! Get a whooper while you make laws!!!! or better a sausage burger.

    I served in the Oklahoma legislature for 28 years and know first hand how easy it is to say NO. Your senate leader Peter Courtney took the harder path. He got in the arena, took on the toughest fight for any elected person, that is to raise taxes, and won.............against near impossible odds.

    Trust me your state is better off for what he and 54% of the voters did. That is exactly why so many of us who live in far less progressive environs look at Oregon with envy, and indeed pride. Too many politicians know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Education, health care, public safety. They are valuable and when done right cost money. Congratualtions Senator Courtney and Oregonians. Your kids may not thank you today but they will someday and that should be worth everything to you.

    Sincerely,

    Cal Hobson, Former President Pro Tempore Oklahoma State Senate

  • rw (unverified)
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    Cal, I'm having a problem with it now, tho. I've discovered that a tiny S-Corp like mine that made NO money last year will nevertheless be made to pay out $150.00 from my pocket despite not having made anything. My understanding was that those who made a profit, and at a particularly high level, etc. When I was earning a lower-middle middle class income I was glad to pay my taxes without a complaint other than the yearly goggle-eyed amaze at how much higher my Oregon Taxes were than the fed... but to discover that a person who has an entity set up so that they will pay income taxes on all earnings (I COULD have hidden my earnings, guys, doing it all under the table, you know) - now if I land no projects, make no money, I will still be made to pay taxes on nothing earned.

    This is uber-regressive. I feel rather confused and wonder which asshole laughed like the devil as he wrote it in.

    Sigh. So, I will contribute beyond my means starting 2010. Instead of contributing from my plenty, I shall contribute from my lack. In its entirety, it is not a wholly progressive outcome. There is no way that taking extra from zero is progressive. And this is an honest zero, not a Cayman Islands/Irish bank account, heavily written-off zero. Just plain old zero. Unsqueezable, unteasable, unsuitable to economic parse.

    So I learn again, one must read ALL fine print carefully and do not count on the first or fiftieth iteration to be the one that is voted on. Read the code the day you vote. That is the law you are passing.

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