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Jul-02-2007 13:41printcomments

Op Ed:
Legislators Lagging
Well Behind Building
Better Oregon for All

Corporate tax reform shadows entire state programming, but politicians provide only face-saving praise for “good production.”

Scene from The Grapes of Wrath
Scene from The Grapes of Wrath: the rule that keeps Oregonians down, the "$10 corporate minimum tax," was born during the depression, and still exists today

(SALEM, Ore.) - No matter how thin you slice it, there’s still not enough solid funding by the Legislature to provide, protect and solace more crowding and hurting Oregonians --in the 7th Year of our 21st Century.

That’s “too much” --after thirty years of definitive decay and descent for nearly every Oregon State program and service --built from “too little, too long, too late !” as a controlling political performance-- protected and preserved by shamefully-partisan political process.

Some Oregonians still go hungry, some Oregon children still sicken and some will die; creative youth and mature workers seek STILL MORE help to rebuild lives by strong training/education in once-nationally/ leading college coursework; while still others are homeless, even drug-ridden, desolate of hope, forced into desperate circumstance by occurrence beyond their control.

Given largely-unexpected revenue rises, this Legislature found itself once again faced flatly with decision to do SOMETHING: To achieve at least a start, on the SURELY overwhelming lack of common-sense collection of completely rational and reasonable state income, share of burgeoning corporate profits.

The “$10 corporate minimum tax” --borne of Real-Depression Days-- has become a nationally-recognized corporate-contrived “joke” for which all Oregonians suffer dearly.

It still reigns supreme, shaping all other State funding efforts driven by continued monies-drought; still tightly affixed atop a plainly corrupted and consummately “campaign-contributions/driven” lavish-lobbying system; in place now for over SEVENTY YEARS!

Yet some politicians play out carefully-orchestrated: contented voter” statements; spinning-PR-tunes praising a particularly partisan-attitude/tortured Legislature just leaving town: With the largest, most difficult issues parlayed into further delay; deeper deliberation by still more committees and commissions; and with compromises --both visible-and-hidden-- obstructing real, desperately-needed, forward progress on major issues.

Oregon media-channels are nearly unanimous in reflecting a kind of “better than it might have been” attitude towards this session --and nearly unanimous in avoiding direct reference to”the big gorilla” whose shadow surely seems to strike many to near-silence --despite the overwhelming evidence now well accumulated that “SOMEthing MUST be done --and soon !”.

Example: An Edit in the Bend BULLETIN, (7/2), headed “Little session yields big results” fills 170 type-lines, 3/4 of a page deep --and never once mentions ANYthing “corporate” --whiile roundly roasting the current “unhealthy pattern” --and suggesting a sales tax, AGAIN!

Measured against continuing and well-documented declarations of the public will; and decisive factual information on what is really needed NOW, this session may well prove down the pages of Oregon history to be among the most belabored and truly UN-benign we’ve known yet.

That is the reflection of what it most surely COULD have been - and surely SHOULD have been! - given the strong bipartisan pledge of professional and proper cooperative consideration; and then rational and reasonable bipartisan decision for action; laid out in depth and detail by both party-leadership liaison long before the session began.

That record may well go down in desperate further departure from what a representative assembly is intended to produce, given the onrushing campaign season with its political-warfare elements already impacting once again prior to the upcoming “special session”.

Nor will there ever be FULLY ADEQUATE STATE FUNDING-- as Constitutionally-demanded and surely politically-promises for decades - with further full protection against inevitable cycle-impact from our State’s over-reliance on the weak rod of personal income/tax/alone; until and unless corporate profits are properly harvested for fair share support via rational, reasonable state-tax/share.

“Harvested” is surely the descriptive term given the depth and design of corporate tax breaks already evident in Oregon; and the ongoing corporate “connections” which have produced a 75 percent shift of tax-burden from profitable corporate accounts to Oregon citizenry, since the 70’s. Can you see that surely-demanded and desperately-needed action becoming actuality, any time soon?

Hopefully, in the coming special session, following hot on the campaign providing full opportunity for both partisan cults and the business community to realize and recognize what must, inevitably and even painfully, somehow be accomplished here in Oregon?

If EVER there is to be a reforming rationale reversing this long-continued clearly-piratical corporate tax-behavior/benefit, now solidly on the record at more than several legislative sessions, this should have been the time for conscientious and carefully-comprehensive commonweal action, led by corporate leadership itself.

Given the rapidly growing Corporate Social Responsibility trend now sweeping the international, national and some-state levels across the world, this was another opportunity for Oregonians, in business and industry and corporate management, working with their elected Legislators, “to get that job done” NOW.

You can see with your own eyes what actually happened. You can do what you will, NOW, to make sure it DOES HAPPEN, soon and comprehensively.

OR you can "avoid the issue, select a committee, set up still another commission" --and leave town.

That’s what your Legislators, elected to serve your will and the commonweal, have done.

But they MUST come back to capital Salem, too...and soon! What will YOU do, when THEY do, again ??

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Earl E. Mohr July 19, 2007 1:17 pm (Pacific time)

I have a friend and, more importantly, my mentor for forty-five years who lives in Salem. The former Willamette University and Mt. Angel College instructor, in theater and speech, has long elaborated on the very subject you cover. As speech writer for the late Gov. Tom McCall, as well as champion for the works of William Stafford, Carl Ritchie has lent his opinions to those of us who needed to be exposed to ethical thinking. Thank you for articulating thoughts that share germination from the likes of Carl, Deb Potts, and Wayne Morse. I could wish for news commentators to take ethical commonweal stances. It doesn't appear about to happen. In the meantime, I shall tap into your words here.

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