Month: May 2010

“Public Provisions” Pitfalls

Christina Martin
Cascade Commentary

“Public Provisions” Pitfalls

By Christina Martin

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Nobody likes physical pain, but often it gives us a signal that we need to change our behavior before we incur serious injury. In the sphere of social policy, government entitlements designed to avoid short-term pain too often work against natural and healthy incentives that help individuals to avoid longer-term pain. Many people will endure smaller temporary pains, work harder, save more, eat healthier and build a social network in order to avoid larger future pains like hunger or homelessness. This is not a new observation and has been commented on for thousands of years.

Our nation’s founders were well aware of the importance of incentives. In 1766 Benjamin Franklin declared in a letter to the London Chronicle that England’s poor were the most miserable in the world because England’s welfare programs had destroyed essential incentives, making people dependent on the government. He concluded after his world travels that “the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer,” but “the less [that] was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

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Testimony before the Multnomah County Tax Supervising and Conservation Commission Regarding the TriMet Proposed FY 11 Budget

John A. Charles, Jr.
Cascade Commentary

by John A. Charles, Jr.

Testimony before the Multnomah County Tax Supervising and Conservation Commission

Regarding the TriMet Proposed FY 11 Budget

May 25, 2010

TriMet asserts that the proposed FY 11 budget adheres to principles of good budgeting and financial planning because “revenues and expenditures are in balance” and the budget“incorporates a long term perspective” (page 2).

This is disingenuous. The only “long term perspective” being offered by TriMet is the continued practice of pushing debt payments off to the future. The problem is that eventually the future arrives, and someone has to pay. TriMet is creating a regressive, intergenerational burden by hiding more than $1.2 billion in expenses.

TriMet must confront the two major cost drivers that are out of control: (1) employee fringe benefits; and (2) rail construction projects.

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John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Will America Go the Way of Greece?

Steve Buckstein
QuickPoint!

[audio:QuickPoint5-25-10Steve.mp3] Click the play button to hear the audio commentary

by Steve Buckstein

 
Will America Go the Way of Greece?

How many times have you heard that America is the only industrialized country without a national health care system? Now, just as America seems to be jumping into that pond, another country may be required to jump out.

The country of Greece is so deeply in debt, and has made so many promises to its citizens that it can’t keep, that it needs a massive bailout from other nations and organizations. America is a part of the IMF, European Union and European Central Bank consortium putting up funds to help Greece weather its financial crisis.

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Time for Heavy Lifting by Gubernatorial Candidates

John A. Charles, Jr.
Time for Heavy Lifting by Gubernatorial Candidates

By John Charles

A day after their respective primary victories, John Kitzhaber and Chris Dudley celebrated by conducting photo-ops. Kitzhaber visited a Portland middle school and announced a plan to “create jobs and save energy” by weatherizing Oregon schools. Dudley visited a Boys & Girls Club and talked about his ability to “work with people.”

The voters deserve a lot more substance as we move on to the general election. (more…)

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Redistricting – Partisan Power Grab

Karla Kay Edwards
QuickPoint!

[audio:QuickPoint5-19-10Karla.mp3] Click the play button to hear the audio commentary

by Karla Kay Edwards

Redistricting – Partisan Power Grab

Partisan politics makes great news headlines but usually doesn’t lead to sound policy decisions. The redrawing of Oregon’s legislative districts, known as redistricting, is currently a very partisan process carried out by Oregon’s legislators after each U.S. Census. The redistricting process supersedes all elections and can define Oregon’s future policy path toward more government and taxes or toward free enterprise and liberty.

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You Make Too Much Money

Steve Buckstein
Cascade Commentary

You Make Too Much Money

By Steve Buckstein

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In a recent speech promoting his financial industry reform bill, President Barack Obama had what may become known as another “Joe the Plumber moment” (in which he spoke off-the-cuff about “spread(ing) the wealth around.”). This time, he said:

  • “We’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.…”

 
Left unsaid was what the president thinks should happen to those who make “more than enough.”  Should their taxes go up? Or, should everything they earn over some arbitrary level be taken from them and redistributed to others?

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The Downside of Measure 68

Steve Buckstein
QuickPoint!

The Downside of Measure 68

 
By Steve Buckstein

At first glance, Measure 68 on this year’s Oregon Primary election ballot seems harmless enough. It would allow school districts to borrow money for capital improvements, including “land and other assets associated with acquisition, construction, improvement, remodeling, maintenance and repair.” The measure also would allow the state to borrow money and to match bonds approved by local voters.

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For Real Reform, Allow More Innovative Schools

Kathryn Hickok
QuickPoint!

[audio:QuickPoint5-12-10Kathryn.mp3] Click the play button to hear the audio commentary

By Kathryn Hickok

For Real Reform, Allow More Innovative Schools

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Governor Ted Kulongoski has decided that Oregon will not reapply for a federal “Race to the Top” school innovation grant this month. Oregon’s proposal was graded seventh worst in the nation, andKulongoski said Oregon “has a lot of foundational work to do” before being “truly competitive for any Race to the Top dollars.”

To improve New York’s bid for Race to the Top funds, the New York Senate more than doubled the cap on the state’s charter schools from 200 to 460. New York’s charter school bill is reportedly unlikely to pass the State Assembly in its current form. However, New York lawmakers are realizing that if they are serious about trying to win up to $700 million in federal grant money for educational innovation, they must allow more students to attend innovative schools.

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Don't Let School Choice Lose Ground in Oregon!

Christina Martin
QuickPoint!

[audio:QuickPoint5-5-10Christina.mp3] Click the play button to hear the audio commentary

by Christina Martin

Don’t Let School Choice Lose Ground in Oregon!

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During its February special session, the Oregon legislature passed a bill instructing the Oregon State Board of Education to make recommendations to the legislature this fall regarding the governance of virtual charter schools. Last month, the Board met to discuss the future of virtual education in Oregon.

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Opportunity Knocks with Redistricting

Karla Kay Edwards
Cascade Commentary

Opportunity Knocks with Redistricting

by Karla Kay Edwards

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It is obvious from the voting results of Measures 66 and 67 (and of several other recent ballot measures) that constituents in most rural counties have different ideas about taxation and the role of government than do residents of counties with a larger urban population. Many are frustrated and concerned that the voices of rural communities always will fail to be heard.

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