By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Bladine: A modest plan for consequences

Why?

Too often these days, “Why?” is just a rhetorical question with no expectation of a reasonable answer or achievable solution.

Why has America allowed its infrastructure to deteriorate – arguably ever since the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration of 1935 – and why has today’s debate on infrastructure become a political football game played between the 40-yard lines?

Why did we allow a defective national student debt system to wreak economic havoc on tens of millions of American with unfair and often catastrophic financial burdens, and why haven’t we fixed it?

Why did the Oregon Legislature create a Corporate Activity Tax to extract an extra $1 billion annually, then return $1.9 billion in personal income tax credits from the bi-annual “kicker” law?

Why do we fiddle while the Earth’s environment burns?

Most recently, why are we just now turning a major focus on the international shipping gridlock that has been a not-so-slow-moving crisis for a year.

While Americans continues its unholy war between the “Election Stealers” and the “Insurrectionists,” others were watching the disarray in international and domestic shipping: As the French Press Agency reported in April:

“The global shipping network that keeps food, energy and consumer goods circulating – and the world economy afloat – is facing its biggest stress test in memory … amid warnings that soaring freight costs could affect supplies of key goods or consumer prices. The situation arose last year as the expanding pandemic jammed the sprawling, predictable patterns by which shipping containers are shared around the world’s ports … since the end of 2020, vessels have piled up outside overburdened Western ports … American consumer demand has been a key driver.”

Actually, there is one potentially common answer in America to “Why?” That answer: Extreme, dysfunctional, debilitating partisanship. Our system favors failure in problem-solving by allowing ingrained ideologies to overreach with majority rule, or to prevent any progress with minority rights.

Here’s a modest proposal to address that situation: Whenever 90 or more percent of Democrats in Congress vote in favor of something opposed by 90 or more percent of Republicans, 100 percent of all members of Congress are docked $10,000 in pay. Make that $25,000 for the top party leaders on both sides. Fines could be smaller for state legislators, but still significant enough to get their attention.

Crazy? No crazier than allowing our country to become second-tier in health, transportation, education and more. Perhaps our real problem with lawmakers is the lack of consequences for their partisanship malfeasance.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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