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Opposing the Salem Zealots

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The Oregonian’s front page feature on lobbyist Mark Nelson is a revealing insight into the views of a man the paper calls “the most powerful man in government whom you’ve never met.”

Nelson works for a number of powerful clients. Among other battles this legislative session, he’s trying to keep cigarette and beer taxes from rising, and he’s fighting caps on consumer loans.

His opponents couch their arguments in terms of providing health insurance for poor children, or putting more state police on the highways, or protecting people from so-called predatory lenders.

Nelson is having none of their rationalizations. He understands that in our free society people have a right to make choices others may think are harmful to their health or their pocketbooks.

Nelson knows that raising beer or tobacco taxes, for example, doesn’t hurt the big companies that sell these products nearly as much as it hurts smokers and beer drinkers directly. Why single out these groups to pay for government services? Apparently, simply because the people he labels “zealots” can.

“…[T]he zealots,” he says, “are bound and determined…to dictate how the people who are acting responsibly and within the law are going to have to change their lives.”

The power to tax is the power to destroy. It’s nice to know that at least one “powerful man” is standing up to the tax and regulatory zealots.

Steve Buckstein is the Senior Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon-based think tank.

© 2007, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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