Meddling too much is counter productive

We are living in a separate political universe here in Oregon.

In many respects, that’s a positive thing. But not in all respects.

Donald Trump Republicans don’t seem to want government to regulate anything. They appear willing to sacrifice protection from toxic air, water and soil pollution; racial, ethnic and gender discrimination; infringement on the right to speak and publish; degradation of forests, parks, refuges and other unspoiled spaces; and encroachment on basic food safety, consumer protection, workplace safety and energy conservation standards.

This administration has turned over the nation’s key regulatory agencies to industry lobbyists, who are busily eroding virtually every regulation in sight. It has rolled back decades of protections afforded to workers, consumers, taxpayers and citizens.

Here in Oregon, the danger lies in over-regulation, not under. Here, Kate Brown Democrats don’t seem to have ever encountered a new regulation they couldn’t embrace. 

A statewide rent control program defying the natural order of free market mechanics? On the way. A potentially crippling new tax on major industrial employers like McMinnville’s Cascade Steel Rolling Mills? In the works.

The state has even taken aim at a landlord’s right to charge extra for assuming the well-documented risk that tenant’ pets pose. It is considering legislation preventing landlords who allow pets from charging for the privilege.

We get the thinking: Oregon’s legions of pet-owners find it harder to secure affordable housing.

But anyone who thinks this through should see what’s coming.

Landlords will respond by prohibiting pets automatically. The Legislature will respond by forcing landlords to allow pets at no cost.

Landlords will respond by raising rents enough to compensate, unless the state’s new rent control makes that impossible. In that case, they will quit the no longer profitable rental business, throttling housing inventory.

Ironically, Oregon’s housing shortage can be traced in large measure to its highly restrictive land use system. That makes it virtually impossible for cities to expand their residential land inventory by expanding their urban growth boundaries. And when government creates artificial scarcity, the law of supply and demand elevates land cost ever upward.

In Washington D.C., enacting new regulations never appears the answer. Here, it always seems the answer, even when the impetus is failure of previous regulation to achieve the intended aim.

Here’s hoping we can eventually achieve some common-sense balance, both locally and nationally.




It has been said that if the government controlled the Sahara desert, soon there would be a shortage of sand.

Don Dix

By examination, Oregon's present government (D super majority) has obviously reached this troubling state of affairs: “Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.”

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