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January 17, 2005

Social Security (to NYT)

To the editors:

As Bush launches his $100 million public relations blitz to justify borrowing $2 trillion and still cut Social Security benefits, it is important to remember that Social Security is doing a great job as a fail-safe to keep out of poverty those citizens who worked hard all their life and earned the benefit.

It's very point is it's safety from the vagaries of the market!  We don't need more ways to risk savings in the market because we have plenty today.  Sure, we should look at ways to encourage more savings in America but the problem isn't Social Security, it's low earning power for so many citizens.

What we most need is to broaden prosperity for average Americans, not break our working Social Security system.  That would be worth borrowing $2 trillion for!

To my Senators: Re: Drilling ANWAR

To Senators Wyden & Smith:

I deeply appreciate your past opposition of President Bush's plan to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, America's last unspoiled birthing ground for Arctic wildlife.

The refuge should not be put at risk for the sake of a year's worth of national energy.

We should focus instead on forward-thinking ideas for renewable sources that can add new revenue opportunities in rural parts of our state by providing wind, solar and bio-fuels, as well as further technology development and new job creation around improving these sources.

Every dollar saved through energy efficiencies in Oregon is a dollar we can invest here at home instead of sending it abroad.

Follow-up on World-class School Funding inititative

(Posted on Blue Oregon's Oregon Democrats Fail to Compete with Republican Ballot Measure)

John Mulvey re: taxes & schools

You've hit the nail on the head WRT the problem with the past approaches to school funding: the search for fund sources and raising taxes.  But I do think there  is an initiative opportunity by turning the problem on its head: the focus has been on the wrong thing: source of funding; it should be on the amount of funding.

My proposal above for an initiative to set school funding at 3.75% of OR GDP focuses on the spending level needed to achieve the world competitive educational system Oregonians have said they want since 1991, but that we don't have.  We have never spent at the level to attain our goal.

The core initiative idea is: set the funding level.  But leave it up to the legislature to represent our state overall interests in either cutting elsewhere to make room or raising taxes to avoid those other cuts.  After all, there really isn't much need to debate the amount every year since

  • the educational needs of our children aren't changing every year and
  • our desires for a world-class school system are undimmed over more than a decade.

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January 13, 2005

Bush PR blitz against Social Security (Oregonian)

(To the Oregonian)

As Bush launches his $100 million PR blitz to justify borrowing $2 trillion and still cut Social Security benefits, it is important to remember that Social Security is doing a great job as a fail-safe to keep out of poverty those citizens who worked hard all their life and earned the benefit.

And it's very point is it's safety from the vagaries of the market.

We don't need another way to risk savings in the market because we already have lots of ways: 401ks, IRAs, Keoghs, SEP-IRAs, etc.

Sure, we should look at ways to encourage more savings in America but, by definition, without more income, most of us can never save significantly, no matter the program.  The problem isn't Social Security, it's low earning power for so many citizens.

What we most need is to broaden prosperity for average Americans, not break our working Social Security system.  That would be worth borrowing $2 trillion for!

January 12, 2005

To Yamhill County Commissioners re: Measure 37 Claims

(To [email protected], [email protected], [email protected];
cc:[email protected], [email protected])

Although our Yamhill County has only about 2-3% of the Oregon population, we have one of the highest rates of Measure 37 claims so far.  Many Measure 37 claims are turning out not to be the simple desire to put a home on a farm property as some expected, but subdivisions of varying size.  Either providing waivers, or paying claims affects not only neighbors but also taxpayers -- construction, new roads, water & sewer, utilities, future demands on schools, wells, fire protection, police, etc.

A waiver resulting in taxpayer-provided services could result in either increased taxes or reduced services in order to pay the public costs -- effectively making taxpayers subsidize the Measure 37 claimants profit-making efforts.

Good government by and for the people requires open government and public involvement and these potentially affect all our taxes and/or services and deserve public hearings in which the public costs and benefits can be considered.  This is especially true of a complex, unclear new law without good guidance on how to evaluate and process these in a fair manner.

Why not Simon [Rosenberg for DNC chair)?

(posted on Joe Trippi.com in response to Joe's endorsement of Simon Rosenberg for DNC Chair)

I like what Simon has done with NDN, but at the same time, there hasn't been great innovation or spokesmanship.  The NDN Agenda is another Democratic laundry-list of 40 programs.  No story about America and where it needs to go.  Their "Restoring America's Promise" is great for NDN's mission perhaps, but not a good statement of what Democrat's stand for -- it's too vague and i bet you would find no general agreement, if you asked 100 people, on what promise it is refering to.

That makes his communication skills doubtful to me.

Maybe he'd be a great COO for the party.

[See also, Comment on NDN re: Help Us Update the NDN Agenda for 2005 and Comment on NDN re: Where We Are.]

Using Ballot Initiatives in Oregon

A guest columnist on BlueOregon raised the issue of democrats using ballot initiatives more in Oregon, a mechanism I also think we could use more, though I've written only a little on (see Prioritize and Strategize).  My full comments can be found with his article.  Here are some excerpts:

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Continue reading "Using Ballot Initiatives in Oregon" »

January 11, 2005

To: National Marine Fisheries Service

(via American Rivers)

National Marine Fisheries Service
525 NE Oregon Street
Suite 500
Portland, OR 97232-2737

Dear Chief, NMFS, Protected Resources Division:

RE: Docket Number 030716175-4327-03

I oppose reducing the critical habitat designations for endangered and threatened salmon and steelhead stocks.

Continue reading "To: National Marine Fisheries Service" »

January 08, 2005

Re: Let Congress Lead (NYT 01/08/05)

(NYT 01/08/05  Let Congress Lead)

To the Editors -

Conservatives are wasting great energy trying to figure out how to mess with Social Security, but the real problem is the false assumption that it is broken.  What Social Security was designed for, and is doing a great job at: a fail-safe to keep out of poverty those citizens who worked hard all their life.  It's very point is it's safety from the vagaries of the market.

We don't need another way to risk savings in the market because we already have lots of ways: 401ks, IRAs, Keoghs, SEP-IRAs, etc.

Sure, we should look at ways to encourage more savings in America but, by definition, the poor can never save significantly, no matter the program.  The problem isn't Social Security, it's low earning power for most citizens which has been uspurped by the super-rich who we are subsidizing with tax-giveaways.

We need to broaden prosperity for average Americans, not break a working system.

January 07, 2005

Re: Ohio election challenge (Portland Tribune)

The cornerstone of our democractic ideals is that a citizenship of diverse beliefs can govern themselves.

The partisan tampering we've seen in each of the last two presidential elections, gerrymandering like the Texas redistricting scandal and other examples have gotten out of hand.

I was glad to see the objection to the certification of the Ohio electors as a symbol of the desire of millions of citizens to have a cleaner election system.

A system where highly partisan campaign chairs also aren't controling the voting booths, tallying systems and sitting in judgment on disputes.

A system where voting mechanics are designed to maximize the opportunity for everyone to vote, have the vote counted correctly ... and recounted as necessary.

A system where we have a federal constitutional right to vote, not just a state right.

Not a system that can be gamed to get one party or another an election advantage.

I was ashamed at the patronizing, hostile and disrespectful Republican majority response to the concerns expressed.

It is time for wholesale change in our election systems.

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