Year: 2006

Help Wanted

Sreya SarkarQuickPoint!

The biggest question confronting private-sector industries in Oregon is how they will replace the skilled workforce approaching retirement.

40% of Oregon workers are 45 or older. Manufacturing is one of the industries that will be the hardest hit. 15% of manufacturing workers are 55 and older.

Oregon saw a 1.3% gain in (more…)

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(In)security and Safety Nets

Bina PatelCascade Commentary

Summary

Public benefit programs to support families in crisis have become distorted into entitlements, and yet government has little, if any, obligation to pay out future benefits. Policy ideas like individual asset accounts offer common ground for policymakers to collaborate on revamping outdated programs, while concretely enhancing the financial security of individuals. (more…)

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Moving Out

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

After spending the first sixteen years of its existence located in downtown Portland, Cascade Policy Institute has moved not only out of downtown, but several blocks outside the city limits to an office building in Raleigh Hills. The reasons for our move mirror those given by much older establishments.

The Rogoway family recently moved its jewelry store out of downtown after being there for 110 years. (more…)

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Milton Friedman, R.I.P.

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

A great champion of human liberty passed away on November 16th at the age of 94. Milton Friedman won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976, but to those of us who had the priviledge to know him, and to countless others, he will be remembered even more for his passionate devotion to individual freedom.

Milton’s devoted wife Rose grew up in Portland and attended Reed College before (more…)

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The New Tax Climate

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

One result of last week’s election is that we may finally achieve tax simplification in this country. An old joke on this subject goes like this: Did you hear about the new federal income tax proposal? It’s a two-line form to replace the 1040. The first line reads, “How much did you earn last year?” The second line reads, “Send it in.”

With the new Democrat majority in Congress vowing to repeal the Bush tax cuts, and Democrats in Oregon looking for ways to raise revenue, it’s time to remember what effect taxes have on the economy. (more…)

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Alternative Energy: Not Yet Ready for Prime Time

Cascade Commentary

Summary

In his 2006 Action Plan for Energy, Governor Ted Kulongoski says he wants Oregon to meet 25% of its energy needs with renewable energy by 2025. However, alternative energy technologies are not yet viable on the market and should succeed or fail on their own merits, not because government officials and lobbyists favor them. (more…)

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The Market has Spoken: Light Rail Can’t Compete

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The most recent downtown employer survey by the Portland Business Alliance contains important news for taxpayers. It shows that light rail’s market share for downtown commuters dropped by 30% over the past five years. Considering that TriMet actually opened two new rail lines during that period, this is a stunning decline in ridership.

In 2001, 20% of downtown employees traveled to work by light rail. By 2005 that had dropped to (more…)

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Assets and Inequality

Bina PatelCascade Commentary

Summary

While instrumental in maintaining some degree of stability for lower-income persons, the traditional welfare system was not designed to promote inclusion or self-sufficiency. In contrast, building assets allows those once marginalized to become self-sufficient and provides hope for the future. (more…)

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The New Oregon Health Plan

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

An Oregon Senate commission decided last week to introduce legislation that would centralize most public and private health care dollars in a new state fund managed by a board similar to the Public Utility Commission. The goal would be universal health care for all Oregonians.

At the same meeting, the commissioners heard two alternative proposals that would leave (more…)

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Nobel Prize “drives” home idea to help Oregon’s low-income population

Sreya SarkarCascade Commentary

Summary

Lack of reliable transportation is a crucial barrier for low-income and welfare dependent people in escaping intergenerational cycles of poverty. For these individuals and families, car ownership plays a positive role in acquiring employment, raising income and participating more fully in family and community life. (more…)

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Metro’s Natural Area Bond Measure: Open Space for Whom?

Introduction

Metro has placed a $227.4 million bond measure on the ballot for the November general election (Measure 26-80). If approved, the measure would provide financing for the purchase of natural areas throughout the region, along with a limited number of capital improvement projects in local parks and neighborhoods. According to Metro, this measure builds on the success of the 1995 open space bond measure, which raised $135.6 million in revenues that were used to buy 8,130 acres of natural areas.

Metro’s open space program has received widespread editorial support from local newspapers. Much of the support stems from the popular perception that (more…)

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Metro’s Natural Area Bond Measure: Open Space for Whom?

John A. Charles, Jr.Cascade Commentary

Summary

Metro’s $227.4 million bond measure on the ballot this November (Measure 26-80) would provide financing for the purchase of natural areas throughout the region, along with a limited number of capital improvement projects in local parks and neighborhoods. However, those who feel that the region needs more public access to natural areas, closer to where people actually live, may find the Metro measure to be a poor investment. (more…)

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An Inconvenient Comparison: Should Oregon Trust Europe’s Model of CO2 Trading?

Cascade Commentary

Summary

Oregon’s carbon dioxide emissions are already so low that voluntarily participating in a multi-state carbon-trading venture would only be a costly scheme with dubious environmental and economic benefits. (more…)

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Testimony before the Portland Development Commission on its Prevailing Wage Policy

Steve BucksteinThe Portland Development Commission (the semi-independent economic development arm of the Portland City Council) has resisted paying above market, government-mandated, prevailing wages on construction projects that involve some public funding but are primarily privately owned. Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries is trying to convince PDC that it should pay prevailing wages on these projects.

Steve Buckstein’s testimony before the PDC commissioners came as they continue to wrestle with setting a formal policy on the prevailing wage issue. (more…)

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Bridging the Ideological Divide in Health Care Reform: An Actionable Plan for Oregon

Health Care

Introduction

The subject of health care reform in the United States has become a disturbingly chronic debate for decades. Who can remember when we were satisfied with the costs or functionality of our system? What action-oriented person can bear to read another article providing a restatement of excessive costs and the uninsured? For a problem of this importance to persist for so long with no credible or sustainable strategy must signal important subtleties at work, beyond the deductive reasoning required to construct a new future.

Proposed here is a voluntary health care reform proposal that has the potential to change significantly the way (more…)

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Bridging the Ideological Divide in Health Care Reform: An Actionable Plan for Oregon

Health Care

Introduction

The subject of health care reform in the United States has become a disturbingly chronic debate for decades. Who can remember when we were satisfied with the costs or functionality of our system? What action-oriented person can bear to read another article providing a restatement of excessive costs and the uninsured? For a problem of this importance to persist for so long with no credible or sustainable strategy must signal important subtleties at work, beyond the deductive reasoning required to construct a new future.

Proposed here is a voluntary health care reform proposal that has the potential to change significantly the way (more…)

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Achieving Universal Health Insurance While Improving the Economy: A Reform Proposal for Oregon

Health Care

Introduction

In the United States, most health insurance coverage is obtained either through employment or through a government program. Few of us buy insurance privately or pay for our health care out of pocket. This approach has distanced the consumer from health expenditure decisions. As I have argued elsewhere, comprehensive, low-deductible, low-co-payment health insurance leads to over-utilization and inflation of unit costs and total costs of health care. An argument easily can be made that the problem with health care is not too little insurance, but rather (more…)

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Governing Ourselves

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregonians will vote on ten statewide citizen initiatives this November.

One Willamette University law professor suggests we should vote No on every initiative because he believes the system is broken. He’s afraid that so many measures on the ballot will confuse voters. He thinks that 90 legislators are better equipped to make decisions about such issues as state budget limits and tax cuts.

What critics refuse to acknowledge is that (more…)

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Warning: “Sin Taxes” May Be Hazardous to the State

Cascade Commentary

Summary

Oregon’s cigarette tax has become an “essential” source of funding for government programs and services completely unrelated to smoking, a prime example of why a “sin tax” is bad public policy. (more…)

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Unpacking Oregon’s Judiciary

Cascade Commentary

Summary

The ways in which Oregon judges are selected and held accountable lead to exaggerated partisan control of thecourts. Reforming the selection process would restore Oregonians’ confidence in the fairness of the judiciary. (more…)

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Courting Trouble: Unpacking Oregon’s Judiciary

Oregon Judiciary

Crisis of Legitimacy

In recent years, the spectacle of Oregon courts overturning citizens’ initiatives on purely technical and (to many) trivial, if not trumped-up, grounds1 has led many citizens to question the legitimacy of the entire appellate system. One does not have to look at what the courts do, however, to feel uncomfortable about the possibility of political bias in the judiciary. One has only to examine the makeup of the courts.

Fourteen of the seventeen current judges in the appellate system made it into office, not by being elected, but by (more…)

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School district Berlin Walls

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

How many of us remember the scenes of young East Germans risking their lives to escape under, over or around the Berlin Wall? Happily, those memories are fading since the wall came down in 1989. Unhappily, young people right here in America are still taking risks to escape our own closed systems — our public school districts.

Often, these are inner-city kids who use false addresses to (more…)

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Testimony before the House Select Committee on Education

Steve BucksteinThe Oregon House Select Committee on Education, chaired by Representative Linda Flores, is meeting to consider possible education reform legislation for the next legislative session which begins in January. On September 27, 2006 the committee heard from the Washington Scholarship Fund, which administers both a privately funded and a publicly funded voucher program in Washington, D.C., followed by testimony and discussion with Steve Buckstein and Matt Wingard of Cascade Policy Institute on the concept of school choice. (more…)

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Ending Hybrid Welfare

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Federal tax credits for hybrid-electric vehicles manufactured by Toyota will be cut in half this weekend, because Toyota has reached the ceiling of 60,000 subsidized vehicles that Congress established in 2005. The tax credit for the popular Prius will drop from $3,150 to $1,575, and in April 2007 the credit will be halved again to $787. After October of next year, no federal tax credits will be available for the Prius, though they will likely still be available for other brands such as Ford or Chevrolet.

This is a welcome phase-out of wasteful subsidy. (more…)

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Prevailing Wage Laws: Legislating Inequity

Cascade Commentary

Summary

Prevailing wage laws discriminate against one group of workers in favor of another, mandating wage rates which should be determined by the market. They limit employment opportunities for lowerskilled workers and inflate the cost of government construction projects at taxpayers’ expense. (more…)

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Prevailing Wage Laws: Legislating Inequity

Oregon Economic Opportunity Project

Introduction and Summary

“Prevailing” wage legislation requires that a particular wage rate be paid to laborers working on government construction projects. The rate is determined through government surveys and is usually found to be substantially higher than the market rate. Many politicians and unions argue that paying the “prevailing” wage rate is beneficial and fair because it provides a just wage for hard-working families, results in quality construction and provides a responsible example for construction firms paying lower rates on private projects.

The federal “prevailing” wage law was adopted in (more…)

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Should government invest in wave machines?

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

When the Oregon legislature convenes in January it will be asked to spend almost $40 million to help certain “innovative” industries. The request comes from the legislatively-created Oregon Innovation Council which is trying to “identify Oregon’s top innovation-driven growth opportunities, maximize the state’s competitive advantages and establish Oregon’s niche in the global economy.”

The Innovation Council recommendations include funding for certain (more…)

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It Starts With a Quarter

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Metro recently decided to impose a $0.25 tax on all Oregon zoo admissions, beginning January 1. The money will be turned over to a private organization, the Zoo Foundation, to spend on wildlife conservation projects. The tax is estimated to cost zoo-goers $102,000 next year.

These tax revenues will not be spent on the (more…)

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Term Limits are an American Tradition

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

This week an Oregonian letter writer objected to a measure on November’s ballot which would re-impose term limits on our state legislators. Commenting on a statement made by the measure’s chief spokesman, the letter writer said that “Regular rotation of citizens in office doesn’t sound like anything I remember from American history.”

This is more a statement on the sad state of affairs in America’s public schools than (more…)

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Re-arranging Deck Chairs on the Housing Titanic

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The Portland City Council wants to spend at least 30% of all urban renewal dollars on housing subsidies. Their concern is that skyrocketing home prices have made it difficult for lower-income families to live in the city.

Unfortunately, Council members are boxed in by (more…)

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Tobacco Revenues Prove Addictive

Oregon Economic Opportunity Project

Preface

In 1765, the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act, taxing every sheet of printed paper used in the American colonies. The proceeds were to be used to help pay the rising cost of stationing thousands of British troops on the Appalachian frontier to defend the colonies. Many colonists found this tax to be outrageous not because of its economic cost (which was small), but because it was explicitly being used by England to raise revenues without the approval of the colonies. The resulting opposition to the Stamp Act was so great that a year later, the tax was repealed.

Like the Stamp Act, revenues from Oregon’s cigarette tax (more…)

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Big Money doesn’t help Small Schools

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The biggest private foundation in the world is pouring millions of dollars into creating some of America’s smallest high schools. Grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are being used in Oregon and around the country to break up large high schools, creating small schools-within-schools designed to improve student learning.

The small schools concept seems sound, but it now appears that (more…)

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Taxing Oregon’s Tourists

Oregon Economic Opportunity Project

Summary

Oregon state and local governments levy over $268 million a year in lodging taxes, supposedly to benefit tourism and economic development. The unseen costs of such taxes, which include deterring tourists from visiting high-tax areas, and the arguable unconstitutionality of such “forced speech” levies should be reasons enough to repeal them. Private businesses and tourism organizations have great incentives to promote tourism themselves, and they will likely do a better job than government agencies if allowed to do so. (more…)

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An Inconvenient Poll

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

According to a recent poll commissioned by several environmental groups, only two percent of Oregonians think that auto emissions are the greatest environmental issue facing Oregon today. They correctly understand that automobile pollution has been steadily falling for decades.

Yet the governor’s Environmental Quality Commission recently adopted (more…)

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Oregon’s New Umbrella: The Rainy Day Amendment

Steve BucksteinCascade Commentary

Summary

The Rainy Day Amendment responds to the fact that Oregon’s state budget grew twice as fast as population and inflation over the past ten years. It offers the best features of the Colorado spending limitation, which led to strong economic growth during the boom, while avoiding the worst features that kept Colorado from easily adjusting to the bust. (more…)

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Oregon’s New Umbrella: The Rainy Day amendment

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

What if Oregon could enjoy the fastest economic growth of any state over the next five years? What if, over the next two years, Oregon could build a rainy day fund in excess of $2 billion to help cushion inevitable future economic downturns?

The first scenario is what actually happened in Colorado from (more…)

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Open Primary, Closed Doors

QuickPoint!

Lately there has been much talk in political circles about the proposed ballot measure which would create an Open Primary in Oregon.

In this era of gerrymandered legislative districts, low voter turn-out, and growing numbers of unaffiliated voters, one can see why (more…)

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Urban Renewal at what Cost?

QuickPoint!

Recently the Portland City Council approved a $51 million dollar extension of the Central Eastside Urban Renewal District. Public money for this project will be used for road improvements, seismic upgrades, and a new Portland Streetcar loop. Perhaps these improvements sound like good ideas, but what is the cost of Urban Renewal?

Lewis & Clark Law School professor and local blogger Jack Bogdanski, reported that a (more…)

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Wrong Turn on Biofuels

QuickPoint!

The Portland City Council recently approved an initiative mandating the sale of ethanol-blended gasoline and biodiesel within city limits. However, this plan is unlikely to result in environmental benefits and will impose significant costs on Portland residents and businesses.

The price of ethanol has risen sharply in recent months, pushing the price of (more…)

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Rethinking Renewable Energy

QuickPoint!

We are living in an age where growing numbers of individuals and groups are clamoring for nontraditional renewable energy resources. Organizations, such as Renewable Northwest Project, have been touting wind and solar energy for years, and the coming legislative session in 2007 promises to be a battleground for the adoption of a renewable energy standard. However, we should not advocate energy sources that are not sustainable on the open market.

Instead, Oregonians should listen to (more…)

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Declaring Independence from Kelo

QuickPoint!

Last week, President Bush responded to the US Supreme Court’s decision on eminent domain, known as Kelo, with a decision of his own: an executive order to limit the federal government’s ability to take private property in order to transfer it to another private owner.

However, the order contained significant (more…)

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HOPEing for Healthcare

QuickPoint!

The high cost of healthcare these days is astounding, and so is the rate of uninsured Oregonians. There are some good ideas out there but a proposal that invents a “right” to healthcare by amending the Oregon Constitution should make everyone wary.

Backers of the so-called HOPE initiative stress that the (more…)

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Who should pay for your college education?

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregonians have nixed a sales tax nine times at the ballot box, yet at the December 9th Oregon Leadership Summit in Portland some business and political leaders were getting ready to try again. They proposed reducing state income taxes in return for a new sales tax.

Governor-elect Kulongoski and other leaders said (more…)

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A Teachable Moment: Leveraging Oregon’s School Trust Lands

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Oregon owns a billion dollars worth of agricultural and timber land that is supposed to be generating funds for public schools. Much of it is in eastern and southwestern Oregon, and was deeded to Oregon from the federal government at the time of statehood in 1859. By law, these lands must be managed to generate maximum revenue for schools over the long term.

Unfortunately, the lands only earn (more…)

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Don’t Kick the Kicker – part II

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Last November state economists estimated that Oregon’s tax revenues could exceed their projections by $300 million this biennium. Now that estimate has surged to over $1 billion, and the debate over the state’s “kicker law” has grown louder.

The kicker law states that whenever personal or corporate income tax collections are (more…)

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Eminent Domain is Never the Solution

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard wants the government to use its power of eminent domain to take property from one set of owners in SE Portland and transfer it to some others, in the hope that they will build an upscale supermarket. Commissioner Leonard believes that the lack of development on a four-acre parcel in the Lents neighborhood is evidence of market failure, which justifies government intervention.

Many local property owners object, but (more…)

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Oregon Charter School Report Card: The history, progress and future of charter schools in Oregon

School Choice Project

INTRODUCTION
by Steve Buckstein

In 1991, two distinct educational reform paths took off in Oregon. That was the year Cascade Policy Institute was founded, with education as a chief policy priority. It was also the year that the Oregon Legislature passed the “Oregon Education Act for the 21st Century,” known informally as “The Katz Bill” after then-House Speaker Vera Katz.

Cascade’s efforts, often described under the broad category of “school choice,” identified an inflexible system as the main problem facing (more…)

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Everyone Suffers Until No One Suffers

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The Portland Public School District is going through a painful process of closing some schools while converting others from K-5th grade into K-8th grade schools. These changes are driven primarily by the district’s shrinking enrollment and the belief that eliminating middle schools will boost student achievement.

But another reason for one school closure stands out as (more…)

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Dr. Howard Fuller — Black Alliance for Educational Options

The Black Alliance for Educational Options and the Cascade Policy Institute present highlights from a speech by Dr. Howard Fuller: Stop Leaving Most Children Behind — Why School Choice is Your Right. Presented May 23, 2006, in Portland, Oregon. (more…)

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Dr. Howard Fuller — Black Alliance for Educational Options

The Black Alliance for Educational Options and the Cascade Policy Institute present highlights from a speech by Dr. Howard Fuller: Stop Leaving Most Children Behind — Why School Choice is Your Right. Presented May 23, 2006, in Portland, Oregon. (more…)

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The School Soda Scam

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The American Beverage Association announced last week that it has worked with the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association to develop guidelines for the sale of healthier drinks in schools. The guidelines cap the number of calories available in beverages in schools at 100 per container, except for certain milks and juices, beginning in the 2009-2010 school year.

While this is being marketed as a (more…)

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“Right” to health care violates individual rights

Michael Barton, Ph.D.Cascade Commentary

Summary

Three state lawmakers have turned the philosophy of individual rights on its head by declaring that all Oregonians have a fundamental right to health care. (more…)

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Stop leaving most children behind

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

While most Portlanders are focused on the Portland Public School District’s financial woes and plans to close more schools, a new group is beginning to question why the district even deserves to control where their kids go to school.

The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) is a national organization dedicated to empowering parents to find (more…)

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Taxation is Uncivilized

Steve Buckstein

Cascade Commentary

Click here to read the report in PDF format

 

This year, as you endure the inconvenience and dread of filling out your federal and state income tax forms, consider looking at Tax Day in a new and revealing light.

Look beyond your relief at getting your forms in the mail before the midnight deadline. Look beyond the fact that you either underpaid all year and now must write a check to the government, or you overpaid and the government will eventually give you back some of your own hard earned money.
(more…)

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Tobacco Tax Revenues: Oregon’s New Addiction

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The State of Oregon sued tobacco companies this week to recover more money under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). That agreement, signed by Oregon and 45 other states, requires the four largest tobacco companies to pay specified amounts each year to the settling states, ostensibly as reimbursement for the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses.

However, each state is free to (more…)

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Leaving Most Children Behind: Thirty Years of Education Reform at Jefferson

Jefferson High School

Introduction

In January, 2006, the Portland School Board voted to “reorder” the Jefferson Cluster, calling for reforms that included the elimination of middle schools and single-sex education options for grades 7-12. Community members were invited to participate in the redesign process along side of the district employees and leaders who were responsible for (more…)

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Report Details Decades of Failure at Jefferson High School

Critics Charge Portland Public Schools with Sub-Standard Education

This report was recently covered by both the Oregonian and the Portland Tribune.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Portland, OR) — Low test scores and a shocking lack of academic progress in the Jefferson Cluster (Portland’s Jefferson High School and the middle schools and elementary schools that feed into Jefferson) point to necessary educational reforms, according to a report released today by Portland members of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and the Cascade Policy Institute. (more…)

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Report Details Decades of Failure at Jefferson High School

Critics Charge Portland Public Schools with Sub-Standard Education

This report was recently covered by both the Oregonian and the Portland Tribune.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Portland, OR) — Low test scores and a shocking lack of academic progress in the Jefferson Cluster (Portland’s Jefferson High School and the middle schools and elementary schools that feed into Jefferson) point to necessary educational reforms, according to a report released today by Portland members of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and the Cascade Policy Institute. (more…)

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Closing an Attractive Nuisance

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Portland’s new campaign finance law is giving $145,000 in public funds to candidates who collect $5 each from one thousand city residents. The idea was to “get money out of politics.” So, how’s that working out?

So far, one candidate failed to qualify for the money because (more…)

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Anaheim, a Free-Market Laboratory

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The massive cost overruns on the aerial tram have been a source of much embarrassment to the Portland city council recently, but problems with the South Waterfront project go far beyond the tram. The city also has a major funding shortfall for other infrastructure projects in the district, including the greenway, road improvements, subsidized housing and the streetcar extension. As local elected officials stagger from one crisis to the next, it’s clear that they don’t have a solution.

Fortunately, we can learn a few lessons by (more…)

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Pay Less, Drive More

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Last Wednesday the Bush administration announced new fuel economy standards for light trucks and SUVs. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta asserted that the new regulations, which will affect vehicles sold from 2008 to 2011, will save 10.7 billion gallons of fuel during those years by mandating greater vehicle efficiency.

But this projection ignores the fact that (more…)

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Suing for Schools — Part II

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregon’s school funding debate has entered a new phase. Last week several school districts and parents sued the state and key legislators demanding more money be spent on public education.

This new lawsuit goes beyond (more…)

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Health Mandates Price Some Out of Insurance Market

Michael Barton, Ph.D.Cascade Commentary

Summary

The 2005 Oregon Legislature sought to improve health insurance by adding to the list of procedures and conditions that must be covered. Despite good intentions, insurance mandates increase the costs of health insurance policies, pricing some people out of the market entirely. (more…)

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Anti-Wal-Mart Wisdom

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Gresham is the latest Oregon community to do battle with retail giant Wal-Mart. The city rejected Wal-Mart’s first proposal for a supercenter at 182nd and Powell. Now the company is back with a scaled-down plan, but many neighbors still object. They say they’re primarily concerned with traffic congestion.

Portland city commissioner Sam Adams expressed a more troubling concern when he opposed (more…)

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Farmers Need Fewer Subsidies, More Freedom

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

A new task force has been appointed to review Oregon’s statewide land-use planning program. This is the first opportunity in 33 years for citizens to address basic concerns about planning, zoning and property rights.

One of the first questions the task force should ask (more…)

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Time to Sell Off the University System?

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Kirby Dyess, vice president of the State Board of Higher Education, stunned her colleagues last week by suggesting that the board sell or close one of Oregon’s seven state universities. The proposal was made in response to ongoing financial problems with the higher education system, caused largely by the skyrocketing cost of employee health insurance and retirement benefits.

None of her fellow board members voted to support the (more…)

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Steve Buckstein’s remarks to the Dorchester Conference

Steve BucksteinSteve Buckstein, Cascade Senior Policy Analyst and founder, was asked to give a presentation before The Dorchester Conference, billed as America’s oldest annual political conference, which took place in Seaside, Oregon the weekend of March 3-5, 2006. Steve’s previous presentations included arguments in favor of school choice and Social Security personal accounts.

This year, Steve spoke in opposition to the (more…)

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Saying No to Basketball and Trams

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Finally, something we can all agree on. Pro-government and anti-tax activists alike are climbing all over each other to say “Hell No” to the Trail Blazers’ call for a public bailout.

Everyone seems to point to Paul Allen’s wealth as their reason to deny (more…)

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Oregon Supreme Court Gets One Right

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The Oregon Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the constitutionality of Measure 37, the property rights initiative approved by the voters in 2004. It requires government to either compensate landowners for reductions of real property fair market value due to certain land use regulations or modify, remove or not apply such regulations.

Most Oregonians understand the importance of protecting (more…)

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Last Hand of the Game

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

There may be hope for the Portland City Council yet.

After being thoroughly embarrassed by their own lack of due diligence on the OHSU aerial tram, Councilors are now being a bit more skeptical (more…)

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Stupid in Oregon

Steve BucksteinCascade Commentary

Summary

John Stossel’s recent TV special, “Stupid in America” energized the debate about what’s wrong with our public school system. European kids do better than Americans on standardized tests because they have school choice and we don’t. Teachers unions are a big part of the problem. Oregonians must choose between putting more money into the same school monopolies, or more school choice. (more…)

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Suing for Schools

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

If you can’t convince legislators to spend more money on the public school system any other way, you can always sue them.

Oregon School Funding Defense Foundation has been formed to do just that. It plans to sue the state of Oregon demanding that it (more…)

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Promoting Biodiesel is Easy: Set Farmers Free to Sell It

Angela EckhardtCascade Commentary

Summary

Though efforts to promote biodiesel have focused on subsidies and use mandates, the solution is far more simple: remove the unnecessary and costly Environmental Protection Agency regulations on this clean-burning fuel. (more…)

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Public Schools: They’re Not Really Public

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

One of the biggest challenges for parents is deciding where to live in order to ensure a decent education for their kids. They can guess which neighborhoods have the best public schools, but if they guess wrong, it’s not that easy to just buy another home. This leads to large-scale gaming of the system by parents, who frequently send their kids to live with relatives or rent an apartment near the preferred school while maintaining their “real” home elsewhere.

The Portland school district is cracking down (more…)

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Self-Serve Ban Undermines Self-Reliance

Angela EckhardtQuickPoint!

The revelation that Portland recently had the lowest average gasoline price in the country led The Oregonian to editorialize on Monday that Oregon’s ban on self-serve gas does not raise prices and is therefore acceptable public policy. The opinion poked fun at conspiracy theories surrounding industry motives for lowering the region’s prices.

Clearly, cutting operating costs could push prices even lower, but cost is a minor issue compared to the (more…)

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Aiding poverty in Africa: Giving ‘til it hurts

Cascade Commentary

Summary

International commitments to increase foreign aid to African nations ignore the causes of poverty in those countries: corrupt governments and a lack of economic freedom. So long as those problems aren’t addressed, foreign aid will fail to improve the situation. (more…)

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Another School Choice Hurdle

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Last week the Florida Supreme Court threw out the state’s “Opportunity Scholarships” that allowed students in failing public schools to attend other public or private schools of their choice. The Court ruled that the state constitution “uniformity clause” was apparently violated by allowing students to attend schools that weren’t just like the ones they left. The result of this decision will be (more…)

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Retail Discrimination

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Walgreens wants to open a drugstore in Sandy. Some local residents are opposed because Walgreens is a large, successful company with over 5,000 stores. Opponents feel that a chain drugstore would undermine the “small-town” feel of Sandy and threaten the economic viability of existing stores.

This is part of a growing trend of intolerance by (more…)

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