By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Like giving drugs to Oregon addicts

In February we asked: “How long will Oregonians allow the excessive cost of PERS to drive our ship of state?” It’s time to change that rhetorical question to something slightly more impudent: Who is going to stop those people?

“Those people” begins with the public employee unions that spawned and nurtured long-smouldering components of this financial crisis. This year, “those people” include Governor Kate Brown, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, House Speaker Tina Kotek and a lockstep Democratic majority in the Legislature.

Their solution to the Public Employees Retirement System emergency is Measure 97, the largest and most ill-conceived tax increase in Oregon history. Distributing the money from Measure 97 would be like giving heroin and opioids to addicts who need intervention, not more drugs.

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

Oregonians need to treat the cause, not the symptom. Those people want more money to pay for services that have been cut because of extravagant PERS costs. We need to buck up and consider this time-tested piece of advice: “The rat hordes are coming! Hide all the food!”

This week in The Oregonian, we read about a PERS deficit of $22 billion, and the impossible need for government and schools to increase biennial pension payments from $2 billion to $4.7 billion. I was struck by a quote attributed to Rukaiyah Adams, vice chair of the Oregon Investment Council:

“This is becoming a moral issue. We can’t just talk about numbers anymore.”

Outgoing Investment Council Chair Katy Durant compared PERS to a Ponzi scheme, saying, “We’re beyond crisis. We should have been addressing this 20 years ago.”

Our quick-access PERS archive goes back just 15 years – the good ‘ol days when PERS was merely $8.5 billion in the red. Here’s a 2002 comment from this space:
“All I can say is, it’s a damn shame. Some greedy union leaders conspired with an ignorant Legislature, a lazy media (present company included) and a general public wearing blinders. The result could destroy the quality of public services for decades, because Oregonians will turn a cold shoulder to tax increases that shore up a pension system run amok.”

I was proved wrong in 2010, when Oregonians approved Measures 66-67. Now, like drug dealers whose stash is depleted, we appear poised to approve Measure 97.

Comic strip character Pogo would be proud to know his most-famous quote still lives: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Comments

Don Dix

Typical government maneuver -- create a troubling situation, announce the issue, and raise taxes to fix it.

The ads promoting M 97 complain big corps pay little or no taxes. Why? you ask. Costco, for example, has purchased 'energy credits' from Oregon's ridiculous BETC program, which offsets the tax bill. Many corps have done the same, so the state actually provided the means for these corps to avoid a larger tax bill.

Comcast is explicitly named in those ads. Our 'appointed governor' has been factually linked to Comcast. Gov. Brown (then Sec. of State) actually sent personal letters of support to the FCC for Comcasts's merger with Time-Warner. Records obtained show that at least one of Secretary of State Brown's letters to the agency was almost wholly written by a Comcast Government Affairs specialist.

Now, Kate wants you to pay more for nearly everything you purchase, while she and Oregon's Ds collect more tax dollars to fund PERS and other foolish, wasteful programs.

My solution -- elect no more Ds to positions that enable government to tax and spend at will, and place the favors of corps, unions, and special interests above the welfare of the citizens of Oregon, or the US, for that matter.



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