Author: kurt t. weber

A Major Victory for Property Rights

QuickPoint!

Property rights — and liberty — were victorious on July 30th when the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously reversed a ruling from two decades ago. The Court’s ruling halts governmental abuse of eminent domain in that state for “economic development.”

In its precedent-setting 1981 Poletown decision, Michigan’s high court allowed (more…)

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Recall the Multnomah Income Tax?

QuickPoint!

In 2003, Portland and Multnomah County politicians cried crisis and pushed a new three-year “temporary” county income tax, mainly to benefit education. This November, county voters, most of them city residents, will have the opportunity to recall the remaining two years of the income tax. The free-spending politicians who cried crisis have given voters good reasons to do so.

In 2003, the county hired a new (more…)

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Fiscally Responsible Democrats

QuickPoint!

We should applaud the demise of an Oregon Legislative Special Session for one good reason: Democrats took the opportunity to proclaim support for fiscal responsibility. Many publicly stated such a gathering would waste taxpayer dollars. Buoyed by these pronouncements, the next regular session could advance ideas that increase freedom and reduce the burden of state government on all Oregonians.

Fiscally responsible Democrats can support contracting out as a way to (more…)

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Small step for the OLCC, giant step for liberty

QuickPoint!

In April, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) announced a two-year pilot project to allow liquor sales in up to six large grocery stores. The liberalization of liquor sales comes only 71 years after the end of Prohibition. Certainly, this step is more about increasing government revenue than serving consumers better, just as was the recent allowance of Sunday liquor sales.

The OLCC has a conflicting mission: to both (more…)

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Power of the purse accountability

QuickPoint!

Bob Williams, president of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, once served as a Washington state legislator. He often tells the story about a state government department that didn’t want to provide him and other legislators with requested information. So, Williams cut the department’s budget to zero.

What happened next? Williams and his colleagues got the (more…)

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The Field of Schemes

QuickPoint!

Paul Allen owns the Portland Trail Blazers and has privately funded the team for years. Allen’s Oregon Arena Corp. also owns the Rose Garden where the Blazers play. This largely privately funded arena just filed for bankruptcy. The important lesson to learn: Let private people risk private money when they bring Major League Baseball to Oregon.

A couple years ago, the City of Portland spent (more…)

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Truth in taxation and an educated, active citizenry

QuickPoint!

Various groups are organizing tax reform meetings throughout the state. The big question: How do we “fix” Oregon’s tax system. In reality, the goal is more like: How do we increase taxes?

Let’s assume the best of intentions — momentarily. Common sense tells us, before we start fixing something we should have (more…)

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Lower taxes strengthen the economy

QuickPoint!

Some folks are pushing higher taxes in Oregon as a way to strengthen the economy. A January 5 Oregonian editorial exemplifies this argument; it concluded, “the small [about $1 billion] tax increase is much better for the Oregon economy than big reductions in spending.”

Well, if a small tax increase is good for the economy, the state government should (more…)

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Can-do unions compete to reduce cost of government

QuickPoint!

Union workers in Patient Business Services at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) recently faced a challenge. Their work — billing and collections — was being put up for competitive bidding.

With the help of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 328, the workers (more…)

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To build a greater sense of community

QuickPoint!

Until the February 3, 2004 vote on recalling the legislature’s $1 billion tax increase, we can expect countless editorials about how a successful recall will hurt Oregon’s poor, the elderly and children. What the editorials won’t say, however, is that higher taxes and more government stifle community solutions.

In the spring of 2003 a great sense of community was (more…)

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Doctors cut prices!

QuickPoint!

A movement is afoot that is driving health care costs down. Among the leaders in Oregon are Drs. Mike Jaczko in Carlton, Manya Helman in Salem, and Char Glenn in Portland.

These physicians provide low prices for patients who pay for services at the time they are rendered. This reduces clinic overhead costs, and (more…)

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Why are health care costs going down?

QuickPoint!

People are becoming smart shoppers when it comes to health care. That’s helping to control and reduce costs. (Please note: There is a difference between health care and health insurance.)

More organizations have begun to buy health insurance the same way they (more…)

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Do I hear $75,000? $65,000 plus benefits?

QuickPoint!

Competitive bidding has been successfully employed around the world to help reduce the cost of government services and improve their quality. Competitive bidding could help reduce government payroll costs.

Jerry Yudelson wrote about this idea many years ago in The Daily Journal of Commerce. He developed the idea while (more…)

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A fine-tooth budgetary comb

QuickPoint!

On September 9, Alabama voters rejected a $1.2 billion tax increase. Some 67 percent of voters just said no.

This past January, Oregonians said no to a “temporary” three-year income tax hike when they (more…)

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Freedom to trade promotes peace

QuickPoint!

When goods don’t cross borders, armies will, warned 18th Century French statesman Frederic Bastiat. In light of September 11, Bastiat’s warning should be updated to include terrorists. The freedom to trade and peace are interconnected. This link is important to remember, especially as you read about the WTO’s Fifth Ministerial Conference in Cancun (Sept. 10-14).

Throngs of protestors in Cancun will attack (more…)

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Takin’ it to the streets — again

QuickPoint!

What do you think about the recent politician-approved three-year “temporary” state income tax increase? Regardless of your answer, you’ll likely get the chance to speak your mind at the polls.

Citizens for a Sound Economy-Oregon and the Taxpayers Association of Oregon are working to place (more…)

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Peaceful revolution and recalling politicians

QuickPoint!

John F. Kennedy once remarked, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Think seriously about JFK’s words as the recall effort against California Gov. Gray Davis continues.

Oregon voters passed an initiative 95 years ago that helps (more…)

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Euphemisms and American Revolutions

QuickPoint!

Former Oregon Gov. Vic Atiyeh just testified in Salem about fixing the state’s tax system-that’s a euphemism for increasing taxes. He told legislators, “We are not elected to make only the easy decisions.”

First things first, Oregon government has a spending problem, and legislators have already (more…)

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Roughing the kicker

QuickPoint!

A move is afoot in the Oregon legislature to increase taxes by watering down or eliminating “the kicker.” We the people placed the kicker into the Oregon Constitution in 2000. When tax dollars taken from us exceed two percent of budgeted revenue, hardworking Oregonians get a bit of their money back to buy their kids shoes or pay for medicine.

The push to tinker with the kicker comes from a (more…)

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Another wild pitch: Sports teams and economic development

QuickPoint!

Proponents of a taxpayer-supported baseball stadium in Portland argue it and a team would generate significant economic gains for the city, if not the state. Terrific! But, wait a minute, if the benefits are such a sure-thing, how come private investors aren’t lining up to invest their own money?

The reluctance of private investors to put their money where home plate is points to (more…)

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Show us the leadership

QuickPoint!

With April Fool’s Day just passed, Governor Kulongoski is poised to break his pledge to make Oregon state government live within its means. The April 13 Oregonian headline reports, “Kulongoski, long against tax increase, says it appears inevitable.” The governor should keep his pledge to work on Oregon’s spending problem. That would be leadership.

The governor must hold legislators’ feet in the fire and (more…)

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Remove mandates and health insurance will be more affordable

QuickPoint!

More Oregonians should be able to afford health insurance. To help achieve that goal legislators should repeal onerous mandates and regulations that price insurance out of reach for many. Removing these restrictions would allow individuals and families the opportunity to buy coverage tailored to their needs, and also lessen pressure on the Oregon Health Plan.

In a Cascade Policy Institute report (more…)

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The fatal conceit of selective tax breaks

QuickPoint!

Oregon legislators are eager to review existing tax breaks. The thinking is, some breaks may have outlived their usefulness.

A state representative questioned, “Are there things on the books that could be limited or eliminated to find revenue to apply to other tax credits?” He noted that perhaps the legislature could (more…)

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Following New Zealand’s lead

QuickPoint!

The New Year brings promise and opportunity for Oregon. Though we face challenges, we can look to New Zealand, a country of similar size and population, for guidance on turning around a wayward economy.

The Honorable Maurice P. McTigue, a former New Zealand Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister, states that his country (more…)

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Temporary is a long-time in government-speak

QuickPoint!

During the last session Oregon legislators created the current budget shortfall. They added new programs and spent more on existing programs than forecasts showed the state would have revenue to support. This irresponsibility has led to the January election on a temporary three-year income tax increase.

The legislature’s irresponsibility is a red flag about a (more…)

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Majority vote does not change wrong into right

QuickPoint!

A sign in a government community center reads, “Exercise your freedom and vote!” This exhortation may sound good, but it should cause one to pause and ask: Is freedom really about voting?

Cato Institute president Ed Crane once remarked that the people in Poland, China, and other such places did not, and do not, rebel against oppression just so they can vote. Rather, they risk their lives to be free to live without (more…)

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An electric idea to save taxpayers half-a-million bucks

QuickPoint!

Portland’s Mayor Katz and Commissioner Sten are spending a half-million dollars to study the city’s rights to acquire most of PGE’s assets, possibly through condemnation. The idea of a government takeover of PGE should die a quick death.

Here’s the most obvious question. A sour economy has pushed commissioners to seek (more…)

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Principles, not taxes, needed to balance state budget

QuickPoint!

In June of 1993 Cascade Policy Institute published the report Seven Principles of State Budget Reform. Ironically the opening sentence asked, “Why is there another fiscal crisis in Oregon?”

The current so-called budget crisis is not an accident: It was created by the (more…)

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Canadians and Brits wait for health care … and wait

QuickPoint!

Oregonians will vote this fall on a ballot initiative that advocates a virtual government take over of all health care in the state. A look at Canada’s government-run health care system offers insight into the side-effects of such an idea.

To control costs, the Canadian government has (more…)

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GOP: The Bigger Government Party

QuickPoint!

Republicans in Oregon and elsewhere are in danger of losing votes, and elections, due to their hypocrisy about smaller government and lower taxes. Gubernatorial candidate Kevin Mannix is exemplar. He’s deservedly catching flak for being an advocate of higher state spending in the next biennium.

Political satirist P.J. O’Rourke notes, “Giving money and power to government is like (more…)

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The high cost of government health care

QuickPoint!

Dr. David MacDonald is a co-founder of the American Association of Patients and Providers. Talk with him and he’ll provide numerous examples of decreasing health care costs in Oregon and across the country. From routine lab tests to MRIs to office visits, cost reductions are happening, he explains, because patients and physicians are once again becoming active consumers.

This trend is gaining momentum. The results will be (more…)

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Keep the quorum: Preserve the double-majority rule

QuickPoint!

Low voter turnout in the recent Oregon primary election helped block numerous tax measures throughout the state. For that reason, some people wish to eliminate the 50 percent turnout requirement, which is simply a quorum rule.

To pass certain tax measures during a primary election, 50 percent plus one of those casting ballots must (more…)

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Lesson from New Zealand: Plow under U.S. farm subsidies

QuickPoint!

President Bush showed his anti-consumer, anti-taxpayer side on Monday, May 13: he signed legislation that increased farm subsidies by $83 billion. This legislation, supported by Oregon’s U.S. Senators Smith and Wyden, and Representatives Wu, Walden and Hooley, shows corporate welfare is alive and kicking in Washington, DC with bi-partisan support.

U.S. farm subsidies were to have gradually ended with the (more…)

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Universities can flourish without Salem

QuickPoint!

The Oregon University System will sustain an additional $27.2 million in budget cuts, announced Governor Kitzhaber last week. The budget crunch should prompt universities to seek independence from budgeting decisions in Salem. One school may have a unique opportunity that could be instructive for the others.

A philanthropist offered the Oregon Institute of Technology a $100 million endowment to enable the school to (more…)

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Greater health insurance freedom would reduce OHP demand

QuickPoint!

Much noise was raised about protecting the Oregon Health Plan from budget cuts in the recent special legislative session. A more constructive ruckus would have started with the question: how can we get more affordable private health insurance, and thereby reduce the need for the OHP?

Randall J. Pozdena, Ph.D., noted in a November 2000 Cascade report, “Oregon is one of 16 states identified by the U.S. General Accounting Office as having (more…)

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