Author: john a. charles jr.

The School Soda Scam

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The American Beverage Association announced last week that it has worked with the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association to develop guidelines for the sale of healthier drinks in schools. The guidelines cap the number of calories available in beverages in schools at 100 per container, except for certain milks and juices, beginning in the 2009-2010 school year.

While this is being marketed as a (more…)

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Tobacco Tax Revenues: Oregon’s New Addiction

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The State of Oregon sued tobacco companies this week to recover more money under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). That agreement, signed by Oregon and 45 other states, requires the four largest tobacco companies to pay specified amounts each year to the settling states, ostensibly as reimbursement for the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses.

However, each state is free to (more…)

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Anaheim, a Free-Market Laboratory

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The massive cost overruns on the aerial tram have been a source of much embarrassment to the Portland city council recently, but problems with the South Waterfront project go far beyond the tram. The city also has a major funding shortfall for other infrastructure projects in the district, including the greenway, road improvements, subsidized housing and the streetcar extension. As local elected officials stagger from one crisis to the next, it’s clear that they don’t have a solution.

Fortunately, we can learn a few lessons by (more…)

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Pay Less, Drive More

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Last Wednesday the Bush administration announced new fuel economy standards for light trucks and SUVs. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta asserted that the new regulations, which will affect vehicles sold from 2008 to 2011, will save 10.7 billion gallons of fuel during those years by mandating greater vehicle efficiency.

But this projection ignores the fact that (more…)

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Farmers Need Fewer Subsidies, More Freedom

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

A new task force has been appointed to review Oregon’s statewide land-use planning program. This is the first opportunity in 33 years for citizens to address basic concerns about planning, zoning and property rights.

One of the first questions the task force should ask (more…)

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Time to Sell Off the University System?

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Kirby Dyess, vice president of the State Board of Higher Education, stunned her colleagues last week by suggesting that the board sell or close one of Oregon’s seven state universities. The proposal was made in response to ongoing financial problems with the higher education system, caused largely by the skyrocketing cost of employee health insurance and retirement benefits.

None of her fellow board members voted to support the (more…)

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Last Hand of the Game

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

There may be hope for the Portland City Council yet.

After being thoroughly embarrassed by their own lack of due diligence on the OHSU aerial tram, Councilors are now being a bit more skeptical (more…)

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Public Schools: They’re Not Really Public

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

One of the biggest challenges for parents is deciding where to live in order to ensure a decent education for their kids. They can guess which neighborhoods have the best public schools, but if they guess wrong, it’s not that easy to just buy another home. This leads to large-scale gaming of the system by parents, who frequently send their kids to live with relatives or rent an apartment near the preferred school while maintaining their “real” home elsewhere.

The Portland school district is cracking down (more…)

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Retail Discrimination

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Walgreens wants to open a drugstore in Sandy. Some local residents are opposed because Walgreens is a large, successful company with over 5,000 stores. Opponents feel that a chain drugstore would undermine the “small-town” feel of Sandy and threaten the economic viability of existing stores.

This is part of a growing trend of intolerance by (more…)

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