The League of Oregon Cities (LOC) invited me to their puerile Gubernatorial Candidates Forum next Saturday in Eugene, Oregon. I had to respectfully decline.
The League’s agenda and shopping list of new tax depredations shows what they are angling for: more money mulcted from the individual taxpayer to flow into the glutted coffers of city officials and their minion affiliated businesses.
Here is the information the candidates received, and the four questions the LOC was asking candidates, who would get two minutes to answer each of two of the four questions.2014 Candidate Forum Packet FINAL
Though the League will be holding days of in-depth “workshops” on issues that wouldn’t even exist in a Libertarian society, like gouging the sick with a medical-marijuana tax via dispensaries, and is allotting an entire speech to former State Attorney General David Frohnmeyer, it could only deign to offer two minutes each to the six Major and Minor Party Candidates for the Governorship to answer some extremely complex questions. You’ll see when I discuss the four questions they ask how utterly impossible it would be for any responsible politician to give a comprehensive and competent answer to any of these questions in two minutes. Do you see the foolishness of this, that they will hold and fund a special conference, supposedly to let the public hear what the candidates for the highest office think on these important issues, but they will only deign to give them two whole minutes to expound on their views? In one of their workshops on municipal law, they gave 17 speakers a total of eight-and-one-half hours, or 30 minutes per speaker. Evidently, the views of a potential next Governor of Oregon are only worth 26.66% of a lawyers’ And also, why should this LOC collective be more important than any other collective in the State, like the League of the Homeless?
And the questions are obviously loaded from the standpoint of what the LOC wants. For example, on more tax money for the infrastructure, they want to tax the little guy by increasing gasoline taxes and raising license fees, and even increasing gasoline taxes in line with the inflation rate, so that they’ll shoot up drastically in a hyperinflation. You’ll notice there was no mention of cutting State salaries and pensions, or eliminating the personal income tax, even on incomes below the average income (AGI) of all Oregonians, or raising taxes on corporations with incomes above $1billion/yr, or raising gasoline taxes on corporate trucks, which don’t pay the equivalent of the damage they do to the roads, while they sponge off the passenger-car driver.
Oregon’s Democrats and locally entrenched Republicans will always try to rip more tax money from individuals to transfer to the political sector, and the LOC infrastructure-transportation proposal is a classic example.
The LOC Candidate’s Forum is not a debate, and candidates aren’t permitted to address comments directly to other candidates. Each of the six candidates gets two minutes to introduce themselves, then two minutes to answer two of the four questions the LOC had pre-formulated, and then give a two minute summation.
I offered to submit written answers to their four questions, each in a number of words equivalent to two minutes of speech, if they could share it with their members and the Public via their website, but they declined, so I suppose the technology of doing that was too complex for them. So much for promoting the transparency of candidates’ views before the People.
Since the LOC couldn’t accomodate my pro-democratic transparency offer to give written answers to their questions, I shall do so here so that the People may know how I would have answered those questions, but since this is not the Forum, I shall not confine my answers to the extensive depth which two minutes would have permitted had I attended the “Forum”.
The first of the four questions, which you can read in depth on the attached Candidates informational attachment, dealt with Home Rule of Cities, which is granted in the Oregon Constitution, and how far the State should be able to inject is proboscis into local affairs. The four topics which you had two minutes to cover were cities’ control over Right of Way, gun control, medical cannabis dispensaries, and sick leave. Thirty seconds a piece.
My view, and I’d guess the general Libertarian view, is that power devolved to lower legislative bodies is better than power concentrated at the top, but I also think it depends on the issue. Segregation showed the dark side of local control and States’ Rights, the war on cannabis users showed the dark side of Federal control. The real question should be: are individual property rights being aggressed against?
But to answer specifics: I’d say I’d be for cities retaining Right of Way powers, especially when dealing with corporate or governmental entities. If a governmental body wants to run a cable or pipeline over a city Right of Way, it should pay the city compensation. However, if a city wants to give special treatment or tax concessions to a corporate collective, like a corporation, which are not applied to Individuals, I would oppose it, and think the State should prevent such mercantilist special deals.
On gun control, I think State laws should dominate and be uniform, so if the State forbade issuing a gun to someone convicted of menacing, or threatening, or required passage of a safety test to own a gun, or clip size, I don’t think a city should be able to override that prohibition or requirement.
But certainly, no city in Oregon should be permitted to allow brandishing a skunk in public.
As for medical cannabis dispensaries, I don’t think the cities should have any licensing or taxing powers because I think there should be no controls or taxes on cannabis at all by any governmental agency, save for DUI, non-medical delivery to minors, and second-hand smoke exposure. A tax on medical cannabis is deeply immoral, and should be forbidden by law. And making a profit off of medical marijuana is one of the lowest forms of Capitalism I can think of. These cannabis dispensary would-be profiteers are a vile breed. While I would obviously oppose State monopolies, I think a State, non-profit, monopoly on cannabis, administered at the County level, with any profits or taxes going to local County government, — as bad as that would be — would be much better than these for profit “dispensaries”. Like many prohibitionist-manufactured problems, this one could be solved by complete, tax-free, legalization, with no limit on grow size. In other words, our beloved Free-Market.
As to sick leave, while we would be against any pension or medical plan offered as part of a municipal job contract, we’d feel that eliminating sick leave would be both inhumane and unusual, since the sick employee obviously cannot perform a government function due to an act of nature. He should not be punished for this. Therefore, cities should be able to set their own standards for sick leave as long as it does not differ from norms used by the State and the County within which the city is situated.
The second LOC question for the candidates asks what is the appropriate relationship between state, county, and cities. Then it asks “Describe in detail how you plan to include local government officials in your decision-making process,” and would you commit to regularly meeting with the LOC Board of Directors? That’s forty seconds to describe the relationships, forty to describe in detail your plans to include local-government officials, and forty to say whether you’d meet with the Board regularly. “Yes, I’d commit to meeting regularly with the Board” doesn’t take long to say. That leaves about 57 seconds each to explain the appropriate relationship between State, County, and City governments, and describe in detail your plans to include local officials. Can you do it?
Obviously, the Cities are a huge part of the State’s human activity, and cannot be ignored. On the other hand, they are in a similar situation to the State vis-a-vis the Federal Government, or the Counties vis-a-vis the State. They should be given as much local autonomy as is consistent with the State Constitution. They may know better the problems they face than State officials, but this “they” usually just represents the elected clique or cliques on the city council, and the large business interests in the city. They probably don’t reflect the homeless, or the minimum-wage worker, who may be too exhausted by evening to attend a city council meeting. Certainly, in huge Cities like Portland, local community satellite villages, with autonomy over their local government spending and police forces, would be a great boon. Money would thus stay in the neighborhoods, for immediate concerns like road maintenance and noise-abatement, and not just be wasted on $1000-plus/day travel junkets and seminars for the city’s top officials, or PERS pensions.
Question the Third deals with “Tax Reform Measures 5/50”, and the LOC’s demands to work around the tax obstacles which the voters of the State have democratically implemented through the ballot. The so-called Tax “Reform” proposals include letting local voters overturn Measure 5 and “empowering local citizens to determine their level of service”, by passing “temporary operating levy (levies) outside Measure 5’s compression limits.” In other words, more money for government schools and for government salaries and pension boondoggles like PERS. The solution to this is the dissolution of government schools, and the opening up of a vast new field of employment for tens of thousands in education. Any government school teacher who was worth his salt would quickly be snapped up by the new private or educational-charity schools.
The second part of this third question (to be answered in two minutes) deals with resetting property values at time of resale. Now, since the abolition of government schools would lower most property taxes in the state by over 50%, and there would be some need for tax revenues to fund city police, jails, and courts, then, if government schools were abolished, and other reforms like abolishing PERS were implemented, I think I’d favor this resetting of property values to the general market level upon resale. A property that originally sold for $10,000 fifty years ago, and now fetches $230,000, should not be taxed at $10,000. But, of course, this assumes individual property taxes are Constitutional, which they may not be. (And property taxes on collective entities may be Constitutional, because they are not Individuals.) The last part of the question asks for a City-wide change (i.e. raise) in the appraisal ratio, instead of a County-wide change, which sounds like a way of trying to get around a County-mandated refusal by the voters to change the ratio. Now only the city property taxpayers will be gouged. So I think I’d be against this part of the measure. However, they supplied a very confusing example of Gresham, which seemed to have a higher appraisal ration than Portland, but whom they mention as having a lower ratio in discussing the example. So, I’m unclear on this part of the question.
Question the Fourth deals with Transportation Infrastructure. It bemoans the deterioration in Oregon roads, cheerleads for a big transportation-funding “package” in the legislature, and seems to assume you’d be all for it, and queries as to what would you do to get it passed.
I doubt they would have appreciated my answer, which, in this case I could have fit into two minutes. Abolish PERS pensions, and used the saved money for roads. Cut State salaries paying more than twice the Oregon average Adjusted Gross Income by 15%, and used the saved money for roads. Close government schools, and use the saved property tax money for roads. If those don’t provide enough money, then raise the income tax on corporations making over $1billion to make up the shortfall. Lower the gasoline tax on passenger-cars, and increase it on corporate trucks, which do most of the damage to the State’s roads and make profit off them. The Democrats have protected their corporate masters for far too long.
Of course, the ultimate solution would be privatized roads that were better designed, safer, and cost the passenger-car driver less than his current gas tax, although I can see many problems in privatizing roads which Libertarian theorists have not clarified to my satisfaction, so for the interim, I would keep roads public. I am strongly opposed to toll roads, but adjusting state licensing fees to miles driven does seem like a fair proposal, though not one I like.
Finally, the State provided a proposal sheet on Mental Health in the State, and how Law Enforcement and the Cities might deal with the appalling number of mentally disturbed people in this sick society the socialists have created. While I liked very much the concepts of “walk-in” help for all Oregonians, regardless of location, I wonder where they think the money for an entire new bureaucracy is to be found, how “mental health professionals” are to be paid the exorbitant amounts they want to compassionately care for their fellow men, and how “mental health” is to be brought to Oregonians living deep in the bush. The entire concept of a neurotic society defining what is “mental health” is obviously very dangerous. We have not forgotten the elimination of Soviet dissidents by sticking them in mental institutions and drugging them. But obviously there are many genuinely psychotic and schizophrenic individuals who need constant supervision, and who are caught in a maze of intense suffering.
I think, though, that this mental health issue can best be handled by private charities which, you will remember, will probably have far more money from donations if the personal income tax is eliminated, and the public will know that they are fully responsible for funding these charities. People who feel helping the mentally ill is of the highest importance will be able to donate the money they would have paid in State income tax to those charities that do an effective job, instead of having it go for mayorial junkets to Bend on the taxpayers tab, who are then told they are inhuman if they don’t pay taxes for mental health.
I did, however, like the proposal that would give training to all police in Oregon on how to deal with the mentally anguished in a non-confrontational way. This is clearly a public safety (and police safety) issue, and funds could be justified for such a program under Article 1 Section 1 of the Oregon Constitution.
As for drop-in mental health centers, there are myriad Individuals in Oregon, many of them elderly, who are so experienced in life’s ups and downs, that they could well be competent in listening to the troubles of a young person of today, driven half-mad by the constant inflation and economic pressure to which the Democratic and Republican Party Inflationists have subjected them. But the program requested by the LOC requires, we’d guess, licensed “professionals”, and merely having life’s experience and a sympathetic ear will not suffice. They want big paychecks for listening. So these “mental health” proposals, though I personally like them, will only further bankrupt the State, which is already $86 billion in debt.
That concludes the four questions and the Mental Health request of the LOC for which you get two minutes to give a comprehensive answer. These questions were followed by “informational” discussions, from the LOC’s viewpoint, of these issues. In the first, on Property Tax “Reform” (i.e. increase) they include this amazingly arrogant statement, “While voters may still be concerned about the state of the economy, in many instances they clearly realize the value of local government services and are willing to tax themselves to provide those services.”
Firstly, the voters who voted against these measures obviously did not “clearly realize the value of local government services”. To say that “they” clearly realized the value would mean that every single voter who voted realized that value, which is obviously a lie. They also overlook the fact that many people do not vote, so that the “voters” they refer to are probably 20-25% of the actual residents of the area. Moreover, it is clearly unfair that only some of the residents of a city (the property owners) should pay all the taxes, instead of a equal head-tax on all residents in the city, which would be fair, although poll taxes (head taxes) are banned by the Oregon Constitution. Finally, the arrogance of government saying what went through the minds of the voters, i.e. “they clearly realized the value of local government services”, is very revealing. Perhaps those voters were Marxists-Anarchists, who wanted to bring down the Capitalist system faster by bankrupting it with new taxes? How does government know what went through the minds of the voters?
One other aspect of the Conference brochure was interesting, and that was the massive amounts of Corporate advertising therein. I personally think this is a terrible practice where any governmental organization is involved, and it illustrates the necessity for a complete separation of State, not only from Church and from Education (except possibly for reading), but also from Business. Thousands of hours of sweat labor are transferred from the hapless workers to those businesses connected to big government, just like the firms that advertised in the Conference brochure, and the private firms that sponsored speakers at this event. Mussolini said that Fascism was Corporatism, the melding of Government and Big Business, just as you can see, 70 years after the Fascist’s death, in this Oregon LOC Conference brochure.
No, the LOC Candidates Forum is designed to have the candidates listen to the whole shopping-list of fresh taxes and boondoggles which government officials hope will swell their coffers with tax swill, and get them re-elected, so they can spend the next 35 years sponging off the taxpayers of Oregon, through PERS, in the style to which they have become accustomed.
The League of Oregon Cities (LOC) — another collectivist entity designed to loot the Individual Free-Market Capitalist.
Paul Grad, Libertarian, for Oregon Governor, paulgrad4governor.wordpress.com
2014 Candidate Forum Packet FINAL