Day: October 18, 2011

When Does Theft Turn into Taxation?

The Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Portland crowds are demanding that “rich people” pay their “fair share” of taxes. While it’s arguable that high-income taxpayers are paying well beyond their “fair share” already, perhaps we should take a step back and look at taxation in a different light.

I recently noted that a Portland City Hall staffer lists as his favorite quote a statement made by Atlas Shrugged author Ayn Rand:

“Everyone has the right to make his own decisions, but none has the right to force his decisions on others.”

So, do you have the right to take your neighbor’s car just because you decide that you want to drive it? No, most of us would call that theft.

What if you and three of your friends decide to take your neighbor’s car and drive it? Is that OK?

What if you and those same three friends decide to take your neighbor’s car and give it to a poor person who has no transportation? Does your noble intent make your actions OK?

What if you and three thousand people decide to take the car and give it to that poor person? How about thirty thousand people voting to making that decision?

So, at what point does the immoral act of theft become the moral act of taxation?

The occupiers, and all of us, might want to think about such questions before demanding that anyone give up something they own without their consent.

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PRESS RELEASE: National digital report card finds Oregon needs more online learning opportunities


October 13, 2011


Christina Martin
Policy Analyst, School Choice Project Director
Cascade Policy Institute
Phone: (503) 242-0900

National digital report card finds Oregon needs more online learning opportunities

PORTLAND, Ore.- Today, Digital Learning Now! released the first Nation’s Digital Learning Report Card along with the Roadmap for Reform. Cascade Policy Institute joins those calling for policymakers to take bold action to bring education into the 21st century.

“Kids today learn how to use a computer or a video game system before they can even read or write,” said Christina Martin, policy analyst at the Cascade Policy Institute. “But the sad fact is that not even 10 percent of schools take advantage of this kind of technology in education.”

The new report provides a comprehensive guide to help governors, state education chiefs, state lawmakers and policymakers adopt bold reforms to transform education for the digital age.

“Digital learning provides unprecedented opportunity for delivering rigorous and personalized educational material,” said Martin. “With this report, policymakers across the nation will be better able to see how to incorporate this technology into their schools.”

Among the elements of high quality learning, Oregon received higher marks for its strong full-time online programs, primarily thanks to its online charter schools, and a 2011 bill that ended several enrollment restrictions.

However, it received many low marks for lacking opportunities for students to take online classes on a course-by-course basis. Many students across the state still do not have this opportunity.

“Cascade Policy Institute strongly supports increasing educational options for kids. Online learning is one very important option where we have seen great inroads. But there is still more work to be done, particularly to increase access for part-time online programs and blended learning,” said Steve Buckstein, who founded Cascade Policy Institute in 1991 to advocate for more school choice for Oregon’s students.

Released this afternoon at the National Summit on Education Reform 2011, held by the Foundation for Excellence in Education, the Roadmap for Reform provides the nuts-and-bolts policies that states need to transition to a student-centered education that prepares students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and careers.  Each state also received a report card that assesses current laws and policies and their alignment to the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning.


About Cascade Policy Institute

Founded in 1991, Cascade Policy Institute is Oregon’s premier policy research center. Cascade’s mission is to explore and promote public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity. To that end, the Institute publishes policy studies, provides public speakers, organizes community forums and sponsors educational programs.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Christina Martin at 503-242-0900 or

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