Month: February 2007

Testimony on HB 2700

Bina PatelThe Cascade Policy Institute, a non-partisan free-market think tank, would like to present information on the economic impacts of increasing health insurance mandates. This question is focused not only the economic consequences, but also on the larger question facing policymakers: are we seeking universal health insurance, or expansive benefit coverage for the few?

  1. Insurance by definition is designed to provide security against unpredictable risks that a group of individuals share and pay premiums for in the event such a risk may occur. The principles of insurance include that risks covered are unpredictable and unintentional. Insurance is not an effective mechanism to provide maximum coverage to all for every foreseeable event. When predictable and regular costs are billed to insurance, in addition to occurrences for those experiencing an unpredictable risk, the cost of insurance increases — that is, more funds are needed to cover both risks and predicted events. In this case, health insurance in fact appears more as a “health benefits package”.

(more…)

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Testimony on SB 80 and SJR 10

Steve BucksteinBefore the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee

on deleting the double majority voting requirement from certain property tax elections

Good morning Chair Deckert and members of the Committee. My name is Steve Buckstein. I’m Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland-based think tank.

There’s no one right way or wrong way to hold an election in a democracy. Clearly, some limitations on pure majority rule are both acceptable and appropriate under our form of government. In 1996 Oregon voters approved a Constitutional amendment that requires a (more…)

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Designing the Carbon Cartel

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Gov. Ted Kulongoski announced on Monday that he has joined 4 other governors in signing the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative. The stated goal of the Initiative is to “collaborate in identifying, evaluating and implementing ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

As is typically the case with such pronouncements, none of the governors has an actual (more…)

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An inconvenient truth (about prevailing wages, not global warming)

Steve Buckstein

Cascade has researched, written and testified about what’s wrong with prevailing wage laws for a long time. Basically, these laws require that higher than market wages be paid to workers on “public works” projects such as roads, schools, courthouses, etc.

Supporters of Oregon’s prevailing wage laws, primairly trade unions, defend them by claiming that the prevailing wage is really just the market wage for a given skill in a given region of the state. The wage rates are set after a compulsory survey is returned to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries stating wages paid by the responding construction firms.

Now, a bill before the Legislature seeks to exempt certain projects, primarily the construction of low-income housing units. Both agencies commissioning such projects and trade unions testified in favor of this exemption. What isn’t clear is why (more…)

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Evidence-Based War on Poverty

Sreya SarkarCascade Commentary

Summary

Forty-three years after President Johnson declared the War on Poverty, Americans are questioning the effective-ness of government welfare dollars. Evidence-based policymaking seeks to bridge the gap between policy makers and social scientists in finding solutions to poverty that are effective in the real world. (more…)

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Testimony on HB 2557

Steve BucksteinBefore the House Business and Labor Committee

on certain exemptions from prevailing wage laws

Good afternoon Chair Schaufler and members of the Committee. My name is Steve Buckstein. I’m Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a public policy research organization based in Portland.

I’m here to express my support for exempting certain projects from Oregon’s prevailing wage laws. Let me briefly tell you why. (more…)

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Testimony on SB 580

Steve BucksteinBefore the Senate Business, Transportation and Workforce Development Committee

on the establishment of signature research centers

Good afternoon Chair Metsger and members of the Committee. My name is Steve Buckstein. I’m Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a public policy research organization based in Portland.

Directing the Oregon Innovation Council to establish signature research centers is poor public policy because (more…)

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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Wi-Fi

Cascade Commentary

Summary

As Thomas Sowell once wrote, “What is politically defined as economic ‘planning’ is the forcible superseding of other people’s plans by government officials.” The city of San Francisco is a case in point. If Mayor Gavin Newsom wanted San Francisco to benefit from a robust and inexpensive wireless market, he would abandon TechConnect and devote his energy to the removal of any existing barriers to competition. (more…)

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Smith and Wyden on health care reform

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregon’s two U.S. Senators spoke on a wide range of issues at a Portland Business Journal breakfast on Monday. Health care reform took up much of the time.

Senator Wyden would end the link between employment and insurance. He correctly pointed out that this link was brought about by wage and price controls during World War II, and is now causing (more…)

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Oregon Legislative Update

Matt WingardCascade Commentary

Summary

The 2007 Oregon State Legislature is in full swing and it’s getting ugly fast for those of us who believe in individual liberty, economic opportunity and personal responsibility. Stay tuned for more updates from Cascade Policy Institute. (more…)

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Real Leadership is More than Just Tilting at Windmills

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

On Monday, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman signed the nation’s first universal school voucher law. The program will allow nearly every family in the state to have a choice in their child’s education, fulfilling Milton Friedman’s vision that he first articulated in 1955.

The new law will provide nearly every Utah parent with (more…)

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Comments on the Discussion Draft Report of the City of Portland Peak Oil Task Force

John A. Charles, Jr.Speculation about “peak oil” is an intellectual fad that has been fashionable at various times throughout the past 120 years. Recently it has seized the spotlight again, and the Portland Peak Oil Task Force Report states that, “many experts predict global oil production will peak within five years, and few anticipate a peak later than 2020.”

This forecast is likely to be wrong, just as all previous forecasts of (more…)

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Luddites against Internet learning

Steve Buckstein

Oregon currently has 70 public charter schools which provide for some diversity in the often too regimented public school system. A law passed in 2005 recognizes the value of allowing new, innovative and more flexible ways of educating children within the public school system, yet one provision is hobbling this clear legislative intent.

The law requires that at least half of all students enrolled in an online charter school must live within the school district that charters that school. A bill has been introduced in this legislative session with the sole purpose of removing that artificial barrier to Internet learning. I testified* before the House Education Innovation Subcommittee on February 6th and seemed to get some traction for my position that such a restriction is based on similar fears that the nineteenth century English Luddites had about losing their textile jobs to the new steam powered looms. Today, public school teachers are afraid of losing their jobs if too many students figure out ways to learn online.

The only witness testifying to keep the 50 percent residency rule was, no surprise, a representative of Oregon’s largest teachers union. We’ll be watching this situation closely to see whether Oregon legislators are more concerned about helping kids learn, or about protecting public employee jobs.

*Listen to the entire hearing. My testimony begins at 57:32 into the hearing, followed by some interesting questions from committee members and my responses.

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Outline of Testimony by John A. Charles, Jr. Regarding HB 2201

John A. Charles, Jr.

  • Tobacco taxes present a moral hazard. By using this as a finance measure, legislators are clearly stating that they want Oregonians to buy as many cigarettes as possible.

(more…)

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Outline of Remarks on SB 187

John A. Charles, Jr.

  • The primary effect of Oregon’s land-use regulatory system (especially the use of UGBs and rural downzoning) is to create various real estate cartels. By making buildable land scarce where it would otherwise be plentiful, land-use regulation drives up land prices far above market value.

(more…)

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Outline of Remarks on Measure 37 Issues

John A. Charles, Jr.

  • The number of claims filed under M 37 indicates a vast, pent-up demand for alternative uses to land in Oregon. This demonstrates what should have been obvious decades ago, namely that Oregon planners are not prescient enough to know which uses should go where.

(more…)

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Testimony on HB 2037

Steve BucksteinBefore the House Education Innovation Subcommittee

in favor of removing restrictions on public charter schools offering online courses

By Steve Buckstein

February 6, 2007

Good afternoon, Chair Komp and members of the Committee. My name is Steve Buckstein. I’m Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a public policy research organization based in Portland.

As you know, one section of public charter school law ORS 338 requires 50 percent of online charter school students to (more…)

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Luddites against Internet learning

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregon’s charter school law requires 50 percent of online charter school students to live within the district that charters that school. Why should the state of Oregon impose such an artificial barrier on the power of the Internet to help kids learn?

History teaches us how the fear of change almost stopped progress. Remember the Luddites in early nineteenth-century England? They were (more…)

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If Only Capitalists Weren’t So Boring: Andrew Revkin on the politics of global warming

John A. Charles, Jr.

New York Times science writer Andrew Revkin spoke in Portland on January 17th as the kick-off speaker in Illahee’s 2007 lecture series, Money Talks: Wealth, Politics and the Environment. According to the sponsors, the premise for the lecture series is that:

“The second half of the 20th century saw rapid economic growth coupled with unprecedented human domination of earth’s biological systems. While billions of people saw their living conditions improve, the lion’s share of the benefits accrued to developed nations, and within those nations, to a small percentage of the population. Market economies have driven this wealth creation, but have not solved the problems of massive poverty and environmental degradation.

“Why do free markets and political democracy struggle to provide the mix of economic well being, equity, and environmental amenities that most people desire?”

In fact, free markets do a pretty remarkable job of providing these very things, but a Portland-based environmental group wouldn’t last long admitting that. (more…)

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Farm and Freedom Friendly Policies for Oregon

Angela Eckhardt

Preserving Farmland Without Farmers

Since 1969, Oregon has pursued a stated policy objective of preserving farmland. Oregonians have paid dearly for this commitment. Rural landowners have lost important property rights and seen their land values plummet as a result. Housing costs are unnecessarily high across the state due to the artificially high prices for developed and buildable land.

The state has endured three decades of fierce battles over (more…)

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Portland’s highway system: there is no there there

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The Federal Highway Administration has apparently reached its limit with Portland’s fantasy transportation planning. In comments filed recently on Metro’s so-called “Regional Transportation Plan”, the federal government noted that, “it’s difficult to find the transportation focus” in the plan.

Many motorists stuck in our worsening traffic would agree. Metro’s plan places little emphasis on (more…)

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