A new business agenda for Oregon

The Oregon Leadership Forum was held again at the beginning of December. It was the fourth, fifth, sixth time, I’ve lost track because they all look the same and they all follow a predictable agenda — one that is designed never to contradict the popular wisdom of Oregon’s entrenched Democrat governors.

When I returned to Oregon in 1997, I joined the Portland Chamber and the Association for Portland Progress (now merged into the Portland Business Alliance) and the Oregon Business Council. As state vice president for a multi-state communications company that was a primary participant in the dramatic changes to a knowledge based economy dependent on high speed communications and rapidly evolving computer capability, I was anxious to participate in what I expected to be an dynamic process in which the business community would describe what it needed in order to grow, expand, and attract new businesses with well paying jobs.

I even embraced a then popular phrase — it wasn’t the number of jobs but rather the quality of jobs that was important.

Then the Portland Chamber announced its priorities for business. They dealt primarily with salmon recovery and increased spending for schools. Nothing was said about taxation or burdensome regulation. But I was the new guy on the block and so I waited. Shortly thereafter, the Portland Business Alliance announced its priorities. They too dealt primarily with salmon recovery and increased spending for schools. Again nothing about taxation or burdensome regulation. And about the same time, the Oregon Business Council announced its priorities — stunningly, they also dealt primarily with salmon recovery and increased spending for schools.

I read through all of the supporting documentation of the various committees leading up to the announcement of these priorities and there was simply no mention of Oregon’s high income taxes, or its treatment of capital gains as ordinary income for state tax purposes, or the devastating impact of the state’s inheritance tax on small businesses and agricultural operations. There was nothing that discussed Oregon’s restrictive land use system or the extraordinary delays and burdensome regulations imposed at all levels of government. I was astounded that a group of business leaders could ignore the obvious.

But I soon learned the ways of these business groups. You see, 1998 was a gubernatorial election year. Gov. John Kitzhaber was running for re-election and his priorities were — you guessed it — salmon recovery and more money for schools.

Ten years have passed and nothing has changed. Oh yes, the priorities have changed but the process has remained the same. This year the priorities are sustainable growth and global warming. Not surprisingly, those are the priorities of Gov. Kulongoski. (The governor may have thrown this group of business leaders a curve, however, because he has lately begun to advocate increased spending for transportation and so I expect that, in short order, all of these business groups will happily endorse an increase in fuel taxes to support a new, aggressive program to “fix” Oregon’s bridges and roads (and light rail).

Still there is no mention of Oregon’s burdensome income tax. Still there is no mention of the capital gains tax, the inheritance tax, even the capture of the business “kicker” by the big spenders. Nothing about the land use system that has now reverted to an even bigger mess with the passage of Measure 49. And still nothing about regulations, the double-digit growth in government spending, or the burgeoning power of the public employee unions.

The business leaders don’t like to talk publicly about these problems — they might look reactionary. Rather they talk about problems that are popular with the cocktail and brie cheese set in Portland’s West Hills. They embrace the problems that they cannot solve — are not expected to solve — but will ensure that they will be invited to the next meeting, the next political gathering or the next photo op with the governor. And when the real problems effect their bottom line, they still don’t talk about them, they just leave. Businesses like Freightliner, Louisiana Pacific, and on and on and on.

And even those businesses who stay watch their executives leave upon retirement — moving across the river or other destination to avoid Oregon’s high income taxes and the capital gains tax on their stock conversions.

No, the business community doesn’t talk about Oregon’s real business problems, but they exist and they will never be addressed until these business leaders speak up.

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  • Jerry

    The PBA is a joke. Plain and simple.
    These fools get what they deserve.
    I hope they get taxed and regulated even more.
    They are completely off the farm.
    I salute the businesses who have moved – they know the score and have taken appropriate action.
    As you point out, nothing is going to change around here.
    Nothing.

  • eagle eye

    Larry, I don’t know what kind of state you thought you were moving back to, but Oregon is very stuck in the mud, and I doubt that is going to change very much. This goes for the Republicans, the conservatives, websites like this.

    There is going to be no significant reform of the income tax without a sales tax, and a sales tax is not going to happen within any foreseeable time frame. I think most people here are basically pretty satisfied with a slow-motion economy. Better get used to it, adjust, or for your own mental health, leave if you can’t stand it.

    The Republicans are falling farther and farther behind in this state, but they show no sign of thinking about why this is and what, if anything, they can do about it.

    • CRAWDUDE

      Get rid of the income tax and they have my full support for a sales tax.

      • eagle eye

        The trouble is the voters don’t want it. I’d favor a sales tax with a corresponding decrease in income taxes and perhaps elimination of the capital gains income tax. But I just don’t see it happening, not in Oregon. I think we’ll go on with the same economically debilitating income tax. I think people here are basically OK with having a sort of slow economy without too much economic mobility. That’s just the way it is.

    • Richard Brown

      The problem with a sales tax is all you are doing is transferring the tax burden form one column to another. The tax payer still getting screwed. The problem is spending not revenue.

      • CRAWDUDE

        I agree with ya Richard!

      • eagle eye

        I don’t agree, taxes are not that high in Oregon, overall. If people want to cut spending, I’ll listen, but give me a plan on what and how to cut, not something like the ill-starred Measure 48 of the last election. It lost 72-28. This is what I mean by the conservatives doing the same stupid things over and over again in this state. The people simply don’t share your hate-government ideology. Or at least, they don’t trust simple schemes that will lead to havoc in the government services they value. Run somebody for governor with a plan. Somebody better that Saxton. Then there might be a chance.

        • David from Eugene

          Cutting taxes without simultaneously eliminating unnecessary, unneeded or unwanted government services or programs is not a solution. Rather it is an invitation to total governmental collapse.

          The problem we currently have in Oregon is a loose but effective coalition of individuals who agree that the government is providing unnecessary or unwanted services, BUT who apparently do not agree on the particular services to be eliminated. So they work together to push tax cutting or limited Measures and then complain as individuals when our elected officials do not make the cuts they think should have been made.

          Meanwhile the rest of us get to watch as funding for all services essential or otherwise are slowly reduced. We get revolving door jail systems, non-existent rural police patrols, larger class sizes and shorter school years, decaying streets and public facilities, ineffective mental and public health services, shorter library hours. We also get higher fees for recreational programs, building permits, parking and other fee based services.

          As we discuss taxes we need to remember that every governmental service currently being provided or mandated was at one time supported by either a majority of the legislature or the voters. To reduce taxes responsibly we need to identify specific programs to be cut, get the majority necessary to make the cut and then and only then cut taxes by the amount the cut program cost.

          To do otherwise is to court disaster. For while business tend to avoid high tax areas, they also avoid those areas with high crime, poor schools, bad roads, closed libraries, decaying parks and recreational facilities.

          • eagle eye

            Very well put, and I agree with most of what you say. If the conservatives or Republicans want to run a candidate with a plan for how to reduce taxes and spending, I’m very willing to consider it. But another tax cut without an explicit plan? No way. And apparently the vast bulk of the public feels the way I do.

  • Steve Plunk

    As much as I see politicians lacking courage I see more lack of courage among Oregon’s Portland centered business leadership. Part of that is a desire not to be seen as reactionary, part of it is a desire not to alienate the state officials who they work with, and part of it is keeping the state contracts rolling their way. It another form of soft corruption through favoritism and sweetheart deals.

    The small business leaders of Oregon have few “special relationships” with the state that corrupts their vision. They understand the damage being done and the lack of productive policies being enacted. Chasing after salmon and global warming is in the interest of environmental groups not business leaders. Like two opposing attorneys in a courtroom each side must advocate in their own interest in order for the best outcome. By giving away so much on these issues Oregon business is handicapped before the debate begins.

    A new business organization is needed. One with no concerns for awards banquets or golf tournaments. A business group dedicated to business issues and holding no allegiance to other interests like a fly fishing club. Without such a group and without focus we can’t expect any talk of Oregon’s real business problems.

    Thanks Larry.

  • Friends of meatpuppet

    Hey if you run for mayor or governor on a business reform platform I will bet you a frappuccino that you would win the election hands down. (snicker) This state/town is lost in the PC left wing anal retentive bouswa sam adams agenda and if global warming doesn’t get you the the evil hydro electric dam will be the death of us all. This state is not red or blue it is global warming green. Ran by the gorebot wanna be liberal left. Do not even think about doing business here. The only way common sense can be reinstalled in our system is for someone to hijack it and take the blinders off of the people. Squash the Greene’s and force them to move to Idaho or Greenland.

    • CRAWDUDE

      Don’t surgar coat it, tell us what you really think!

  • DMF

    I’m really surprised at the people of Oregon being so blinded. I have yet to hear a good answer to Why can the government do better than private enterprise? Over and over they have proven they can not do as well, yet Oregonians by the droves would rather have a freebie handed to them than the confidence, and self respect they have if they do it themselves. I’m sorry, I just can’t see where government is as good. They tend to grab hold of the current line, such as Gore’s global warming theory. Have they no thoughts of their own. Until government can actually have their own thoughts and act on them, you’re right, nothing is going to change. I am absolutely embarrassed to tell people I’m from Oregon.

    • dean

      DMF…Oregon government IS made up of Oregonians. It is not an alien occupying force. Why did our presumably self-sufficient, pioneer forefathers (and mothers) gather at Champoeg and decide to become a state? Why didn’t they just “do for themselves?”

      (And as an aside, why did they limit any individual from owning more than 640 acres in Article 3 of the Provisional Oregon Government Organic Code? Were they communists)?

      Could it be that there are some problems in life that are best tackled collectively, others individually or as families and neighbors? And could it be that Oregon’s business leadership understands this, even if they might not agree on every detail, and dislike taxes as much as the next person?

      By the way, it is not “Gore’s” theory of global warming. It is the theory of the greater climate science world, backed up by the preponderance of available evidence. A more plausible conclusion is that the right wing can’t accept facts that conflict with its core ideology.

      It might be a good idea for all of us to park our ideologies and focus instead on creative problem solving.

      • CRAWDUDE

        “Climate change is a non problem. The right answer to a non problem is to have the courage to do nothing. The UN conference is a complete waste of our time and your money and we should no longer pay the slightest attention to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).” —UK climate researcher Lord Christopher Monckton

        • dean

          CD…come on. Lord Monckton a “UK climate researcher?” And I am the Queen of Sheba as my dear departed mother would say.

          Your friend Monckton is a glib, quack, right-wing “journalist” who inherited his peerage, not a climate researcher. He has zero scientific qualifications. And he is backed by Exxon Mobil to spread his crap around. You need beter than a Lord Monckton to discount the 2000 world scientists who make up the IPCC.

          To paraphrase, Lord Monckton is a waste of your time, though he is making good use of Exxon’s money.

          By the way, did you know that Lord Monckton cited a debunked “history” of China that suggests the Chinese sailed right over the north pole to reach America before Columbus? This is your man?

          • CRAWDUDE

            I just ran across it on the NET, I have no idea who this guy is.

            At the same time I was proving a point that there are many ideas about global warming and no one is a definitive expert on it. The people who use quotes from other scientists and groups have no idea who they are either, they just want to believe what they say.

            I do know this, Al Gore is a whack job, regardless of whether the global warming hypothesis is correct or not , Al Gore is still a whack job. Having him as a spokesman is like having Paris Hilton as a spokesman for abstinance. It’s impossible to take it serious, especially when it’s his company you have to BUY the carbon credits from to make yourself feel better.

            “The difference between insanity and stupidity, is that stupidity has no end”.

            Actually I don’t believe it was the north pole but I did see a special on the history channel citing a theory about the Chinese reaching our pacific coast long before Columbos discovered Haiti. If it’s true Leif Ericksson (a fellow Icelandic) discovered New Foundland prior to old Chris then that would make Columbos 3 deep and 120 miles off of discovering anything worthwhile first, lol!

  • CRAWDUDE

    Part of the scientific consensus on global warming may be flawed, a new study asserts.

    The researchers compared predictions of 22 widely used climate “models” — elaborate schematics that try to forecast how the global weather system will behave — with actual readings gathered by surface stations, weather balloons and orbiting satellites over the past three decades.

    The study, published online this week in the International Journal of Climatology, found that while most of the models predicted that the middle and upper parts of the troposphere —1 to 6 miles above the Earth’s surface — would have warmed drastically over the past 30 years, actual observations showed only a little warming, especially over tropical regions.

    “Can the models accurately explain the climate from the recent past? It seems that the answer is no,” said lead study author David H. Douglass, a physicist specializing in climate at the University of Rochester.

    RelatedStories
    Scientists: ‘Arctic Is Screaming,’ Global Warming May Have Passed Tipping Point Entertainers Spotlight Gore’s Global Warming Message Britain Plans Massive Push Toward Wind Power Europeans Battle Americans, Australians at Climate Talks House Democrat Accuses White House of Manipulating Climate Data Douglass and his co-authors S. Fred Singer, a physicist at the University of Virginia, and John R. Christy, a climatologist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, are noted global-warming skeptics.

    However, Christy was a major contributor to the 2001 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and is one of the world’s premier authorities on collection and analysis of satellite-derived temperature data, having been commended by both NASA and the American Meteorological Society for his efforts.

    “We do not see accelerated warming in the tropical troposphere,” said Christy. “Instead, the lower and middle atmosphere are warming the same or less than the surface.”

    The difference between the climate models and the satellite data has been known for several years.

    Studies in 2005 found that improper compensation for temperature differences between day and night was the cause of most of the satellite-data discrepancy, a correction that Christy has accepted.

    No explanation has been put forth for the weather-balloon discrepancy.

    • Click here to read the abstract of the new study in the International Journal of Climatology, and here for a more understandable synopsis in ScienceDaily.

    • dean

      CD…you may not like Al for whatever reason, but “whack job?” He was right about the Iraq war (twice, the first war and the 2nd one,) and right about global warming long before it was an obvious position. And he seems pretty shrewed financially.

      The thing is, ALL scientists are “skeptics,” including those within the IPCC. Science is all about creating a hypothesis, then skeptics try to prove it wrong, and when they fail the hypothesis becomes the accepted wisdom until a better explanation comes along.

      Yes, there are outlyers within climate studies, and some of the “skeptics” are reputable scientists. Most are cranks or phonies like Lord whatzisname. And the bottom line remains, if the IPCC is right and we don’t follow their advice we are playing a game of craps with our life support system. If they are wrong and we follow their advice, at worst we will have built a few too many wind turbines or will be driving cars with better mileage. The choice is crystal clear.

      • Jerry

        Dean – are you even aware (I doubt it) that in the Antarctic there is a reported NEW 750,000 plus square miles of ice?????
        That doesn’t fit in your little world of man-made global warming, does it, so I guess we better ignore it.
        And, no, we should not stop whining about Al. He is a joke and needs to be held accountable for his duplicitous lifestyle.

  • anon

    Crawdude,

    Trying to reason with dean about global warming is like trying to talk Christianity with an atheist. Nothing you say (especially about dean’s patron Saint Albert) will convince him that he is full of koolaid propaganda.

    Al Gore, right about Iraq I?… and Iraq II? … Al was also right about the surge? Most Global Warming (GW) ‘skeptics’ are cranks and phonies…why? because they don’t agree with dean; therefore they are cranks. They criticize St Al Gore; they must be evil!

    Global Warming is a religion. Dean and his ilk will react to any critical analisys of Global Warming with the same response of a Catholic hearing criticism of the Pope. Dean can’t handle Global Warming critical analysis… hence the critics MUST be cranks and phonies, no other explanation computes in his little brain. It is a religion to them.

    • dean

      Anon…it is easy to talk Christianity with an atheist as long as you bring some evidence with you. Got any?

      I don’t have a patron saint. On the “success” of the surge, if you stick enough fingers in a dike you can slow the leak down for a while. I’m a skeptic and believe that the water pressure is ultimately going to bust through again, but I’m hoping that I’m wrong.

      Yes, cranks and phonies like Lord Monckton. Criticizing Al is not the issue, and that is what the right wing seems to miss. Al has merely popularized the SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS. What Al thinks or doesn’t think is beside the point. It is what climate scientists think that matters. And so far 99% are with Al, as the Nobel committee confirmed for all the world.

      Global warming is a religion? Please. I grew up in a Chicago Catholic neighborhood, and my friends had no problem criticizing the Pope. I have no problem with reputable scientists not funded by Exxon who question this or that aspect about global warming. Line em up and let them submit their research to the peer reviewers.

      In the meantime, can we stop whining about Al and get serious about taking some responsibility for the planet?

      • Sybella

        I don’t know dean, I tried to talk about Christianity with you and you called me a know nothing, not in those words.

      • eagle eye

        Dean, where did you get the figure that 99% of climate scientists are with Gore? Do you have survey or something to prove that?

        If you think the Nobel prize signifies approval of the scientific establishment for Gore, think again. It was the PEACE prize that he got, not one of the science prizes.

        You seem to think research funded by Exxon is automatically discredited? How about research funded by the U.N. IPCC? (A much bigger operation than the piddling amount Exxon is spending on climate research). Or for that matter, how about research funded by the U.S. federal government?

        Actually, I have in front of me two papers that are skeptical of the “consensus” to some extent. Both are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. One of the papers written by a guy who has gotten a teensy-weensy amount of money from Exoon, a very distinguished MIT professor. The other by a distinguished guy at Brookhaven National Lab (a DOE operation).

        The point is that the “consensus” is not nearly as solid as its made out to be. Furthermore, Al Gore does not represent the “consensus”, as anyone who has actually read the consensus reports knows very well. He is out on the far end.

        • dean

          EE…I made up the 99%. I have no idea what the actual % consensus is. Good point on the Nobel committee, but they could hardly have given Al the science prize right?

          The IPCC has only a small staff. It does not conduct direct research. It includes somewhere between 1-2000 sceintists and technical experts across a range of disciplines who volunteer their time through their university, government or NGO positions.

          They basically sift through and assess the work of others, using only accepted, published, peer reviewed research. Every report they write is done by teams of 1-200, and subject to review by another independent group of up to several hundred peers.

          Altogether this is one of the most impressive coordinated science efforts the planet has ever seen.

          So okay…you have 2 papers that raise some issues. Should we wait another 10 years to see what happens or should we get ourselves moving? i.e. raise CAFE standards, build windmills instead of coal plants, set up a cap and trade, improve building energy efficiency, pony up some dough to pay the Brazilians to leave their forest be, provide incentives for people to put solar collectors on roofs, etc…? Which path is the higher risk…waiting longer or investing now?

          • eagle eye

            The “path” you mention will do little or nothing to solve the “problem”, if such it is. Even though it will be very expensive, it will be a lousy “insurance policy”. Why do you think virtually nothing has been done by the 100+ countries that have signed on to the feckless Kyoto accords, even though those would have only delayed the predicted effects by about six years at the end of the century — i.e. the warming by 2100 would be delayed to 2106.

            It’s interesting that one of the things you didn’t mention is probably the only thing that would have a significant effect on carbon emissions, i.e. building nuclear power plants as fast as possible to replace existing and future fossil fuel plants. Had the U.S. been building nuclear plants the past 30 years, our CO2 emissions actually would be something like 30% less than they are now.

            As to what we should do — probably study the global warming phenomena more until there is a better handle on it. The “consensus” is really not one. Even within the “consensus” there are wild variations of view. Besides studying it until, hopefully, the science really is more firm, probably building nuclear plants is the thing that would have some effect, without huge cost to the global economy.

            Re windmills — do you really want to see thousands of 400 ft monstrosities lining the Oregon coast?

          • dean

            EE…I don’t know where you get your information on Kyoto. From 1990 to 2003 18 European nations reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 1-66%. The biggest reductions were in the former Soviet block countries, who were essentially paid by the more advanced countried to shut down very inefficient coal plants. Among the more advanced nations, Germany reduced its greenhouse gasses by 18%. Their economy remains strong, and they were starting from an already much lower per capita level, which suggests we can reduce our emmissions significantly in short order.

            Closer to home, Portland has had zero increase in greenhouse gas emissions despite a big increase in population since 1990.

            Cap and trade systems do work, and have already worked well for other pollutants. A direct carbon tax also would work, but is politically a non-starter.

            You are right that huge modern wind turbines are problematic aesthetically. And the Oregon coast is our windiest region. So is the east Columbia Gorge, and there are already conflicts there between wind projects and scenery conservation. I don’t think wind is a complete answer for several reasons, but it is a partial answer. Our wheatfield country in Sherman and Gilliam Counties and the Washington Palouse has sufficient wind, willing landowners, access to the Bonneville grid, and does not have the scenic or bird kill impacts of the gorge and coast.

            North Dakota alone has enough potential wind energy to power the entire nation. Texas has already developed a huge amount of wind energy.

            Solar is now very promising on several levels. Small additional economic incentives, particularly 100% financing paid back by a monthly utility fee, could result in collectors on nearly every building in Oregon within a few decades. We could generate up to 50% of our electric energy in this way alone.

            The new CAFE standards just passed by the House will save an estimated 200 million tons of greenhouse gas emmissions, or 1/2 of our present amount of imported oil. What’s not to like other than this should have been done a decade ago?

            Nuclear? I’m not totally opposed if we can figure out how to transport and store radioactive waste safely for 100,000 years. I don’t think trading one environmental disaster for another is necessarily the wise course when we have other, better options with low environmental risk.

            You say study it further but build nukes in the meantime? Why not study it further, study nukes and waste disposal further, and in the meantime get busy with the other things we already know how to do and can afford to do.

          • eagle eye

            For the scant effect of the Kyoto accords, see

            http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6933936/

            “Even if fully implemented, Kyoto would cut a projected temperature rise by just 0.1 degrees Centigrade by 2100, according to U.N. figures — tiny compared to scenarios by a U.N. climate panel of an overall rise somewhere between 1.4-5.8C by 2100.”

            So it is almost worthless as an “insurance policy”. But even these lame measures in fact have not been taken by all the supposed signers-on.

            Re the Europeans: most of their total cuts in greenhouse gases came after the fall of the Soviet Union. Since about 2000 they have actually been rising, overall. You can always pick some region of a continent that bucks the trend. Germany. Aren’t they the ones that absorbed the horrendously inefficient E. Germany? The performance of Europe overall since about 1993 has been basically flat. See the graph on p. 20 of this European report:

            http://reports.eea.europa.eu/eea_report_2007_5/en/Greenhouse_gas_emission_trends_and_projections_in_Europe_2007.pdf

            As you can see, even with “enhanced” measures — let’s see if they are adopted and how well they work — European emissions don’t drop all that much. Not enough to prevent the “crisis” if there is one. Plus, Europe is sclerotic democgraphically and economically. The dynamic areas of the world aren’t going to stop emitting these gases. If the Euros don’t burn the oil, there is somebody else out there who will. Ditto with the Americans and the CAFE standards. A couple of billion Indians and Chinese are waiting to buy cars.

            Worldwide greenhouse gas emissions keep going up up up. Only drastic cuts would stave off the “crisis”. I doubt they are going to happen. But a huge amount of damage can be done to the world economy by pretending to try.

            That’s a nice statement of yours about all of our electricity coming from windmills in North Dakota. If it was more than just a fantasy, it would be happening. It isn’t.

            I’m skeptical of the greenhouse claims, as I say. I know just how wobbly the projections are and how flimsy are the methods by which they are made. But you’d better hope I’m right. Because if the doomsayers are right, there is little that is going to happen to stop it.

  • Rob Kremer

    Science does not work by consensus. Anyone who uses “scientific” and “consensus” consecutively reveals that he is really talking POLITICS, not SCIENCE.

    Dean is absolutely correct about that – the consensus among the government policymakers who make up the IPCC policymaker’s review panel (who write the summary of each report) is that man-made global warming is real. This is hardly surprising. They represent governments and organizations that have much to gain from a Kyoto-like rationing system.

    For him to say that there is a consensus about the global warming issue among the 2000 scientists and researchers who are involved in one way or another with the IPCC is simply false. Many of them have gone public with their views in opposition to the anthropogenic GW hypothesis. Just because they all had some involvement with some aspect of the IPCC studies (mostly on sub-topics that have nothing to do with the central question) doesn’t mean they agree with the policymakers summary.

    Anytime anyone claims the 2000 IPCC scientists agree, he proves he is a liar.

    In any event, consensus has nothing to do with science. At one time, there was a consensus that the sun circled the earth. Those who thought otherwise were treated kind of like GW skeptics are treated today- as heretics, to be discredited rather than considered, because if what they have to say WAS considered, it might just bring down the curtain on the charade.

    History is filled with scientific consensus that was later proven totally wrong. Which is why when people like Dean scream “consensus” as a way to shut out other viewpoints, I grow more and more sure that his position is on very weak ground indeed.

    • dean

      Syb…if I said what you say I said, or even implied it, then I apoligize. And I’m not an atheist by the way. Just a mere agnostic.

      Rob…Yes science does work by consensus, though not 100% consensus, but preponderance of evidence. Yes there are legitimate dissents to this or that aspect of GW within the IPCC. That is no surprise. But the reports that they have issued represent the working consensus and they are based on a synthesis of all the best available evidence and analysis. They don’t cherry pick.

      On the basics, that the earth is warming and that significant causes include fossil fuel burning and deforestation, I don’t know of any serious duspute within the IPCC. If anything, the consensus has grown stronger over the past year that warming is happening faster than had been predicted.

      The sun moving around the earth was essentially a religous dogma disproven by science. There was no scientific establishment to speak of at that time in history, so you can’t claim a “scientific” consensus that the sun moved around the earth.

      Those scientists who studied astronomy and proved otherwise were treated as heretics by THE CHURCH, not by fellow scientists.

      In contrast, serious scientists who provide evidence based on reputable and verifiable research that contradicts globabl warming are not treated as heretics. They are given the same opportunity as anyone else to present their findings, submit them for publication, and have their say with no threat of the rack or the iron maiden.

      Of course history is filled with previously agreed to science that was later proven wrong or only partly right. That is how science works. It always is based on the best available evidence at any given time, and our abilities to interpret that evidence. And it is always subject to modification. That is why the system works.

      What is your point Rob? That since there is still some dispute over this or that aspect, of GW, and that at some point in the future somone might show that the whole notion was wrong, that we should sit on our fat arsses and not do anything in the meantime?

      Maybe you are content with that. I’m not.

      • CRAWDUDE

        Hey Dean, just to clear one thing up, I do believe in the Global Warming phenomenon, I just don’t believe it’s man made. We may be increasing the rate slightly but it’s still a naturally accuring weather trend.

        These temperature changes have been happening on this plant for as long as it’s existed. We will just have to live through it.

        The dark ages were the result of a cooling period that came after a warming. This wiped out about 50% of Europes population and caused once shrinking glaciers to start moving forward again, some of which enveloped towns and villages.

        Since the end of the dark ages the earths temp. has been climbing, what we see today is a continuation of this increase. Humans cannot stop it, it’s going to run it’s course and eventually a period of cooling with start again, followed by a period of warming etc…….

        • dean

          CD…the consensus science of the moment is that about 1/3 of the present increase in global temp is due to the natural cycle you mention, and about 2/3 is the result of deforestation, carbon burning/accumulation, our cows farting, and other human causes. The rate of warming is also expected to be far faster than has occured in past cycles. The acheivable goal is to try and hold the overall increase to 3.5 deg F, which would still result in significant problems, but manageable ones for future generations. For example, our Southwest, already a hot desert, is likely to become utterly unliveable.

          Back to the original post. Oregon’s business leaders have accepted the fact of GW, and they have now said they support the proposed efforts in Oregon to get on the bus.

          What I don’t get is why the stubborn resistance to reality continues among “the RIGHT.” Doesn’t your side risk becoming known as “the perpetually WRONG?” Even Newt Gingrich is no longer arguing against the point that we had better do something while we have time. Do you really want to be the last holdout just so we can continue burning up the last pools of oil in our over-sized vehicles?

          • CRAWDUDE

            I’m 100% behind finding cleaner , alternative fuels because I don’t like the country being dependant on coutries with a fanatical, murderous religion controlling them.

            I’m for clean water, less pollution and apple pie I just don’t use the Global Warming theory to justify my beliefs.

            I saw a report from a pollution sensor on Mt. Hood that said 95% of the pollution in our air here, actually originated in China. Brazil is destroying it’s huge rain forest at record speed. The US is/has done/doing as much as possible to deal with it’s pollution but we can’t be responsible for what other countries do. They don’t seem to want to play!

            I’ve been to Europe on numerous occaisions and every country bedsides Iceland and Germany are dirty, grimey places that still dump raw sewage into their rivers and streams(much like Portland). Our press just won’t report it because liberals like to pretend that the Europeans are superior to us, I assure you THEY ARE NOT!

  • eagle eye

    More on greenhouse gas futility and hypocrisy. Check out this. And a lot of the offenders are Europe/Canada!

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2007/12/kyoto_schmyoto.html

    The Kyoto treaty was agreed upon in late 1997 and countries started signing and ratifying it in 1998. A list of countries and their carbon dioxide emissions due to consumption of fossil fuels is available from the U.S. government. If we look at that data and compare 2004 (latest year for which data is available) to 1997 (last year before the Kyoto treaty was signed), we find the following.

    * Emissions worldwide increased 18.0%.
    * Emissions from countries that signed the treaty increased 21.1%.
    * Emissions from non-signers increased 10.0%.
    * Emissions from the U.S. increased 6.6%.

    • dean

      Kyoto was not designed as the solution. It was designed to get something started. Kyoto is “learning by doing.”

      Yes, I hope you are right and the whole thing is bunk. But in the meantime, it makes more sense to me to get with the program. The oil is finite in any case, and coal is a major polluter on many levels.

      • eagle eye

        So, Kyoto is the starter plan. Thanks for owning up. Yet even though it is ineffective, almost nothing has been achieved in reaching even its modest, inadequate goals. It is NOT an insurance policy, the “program”, none that is realistic, will do the job.

        Yes, the oil will run out, someday, maybe in a 100 years if new sources aren’t found. Until that day arrives, I predict the world will burn all the oil that the OPEC extortionists are willing to pump. Which is quite a lot.

        Yes, coal is dirty. That’s why we should have been building nukes for the past 30 years, like France. But dirty or not, coal produces electricity. People still want the lights and computers to come on, in increasing amounts. Wind, aside from the aesthetic disaster, is a niche source of power, despite the fantasies. (It also has a little problem when the wind stops blowing, as sometimes even happens in N. Dakota.)

        Tell you what, if you really want to reduce American CO_2 emissions, step up to the plate, propose taxes to increase the price of gas and electricity to achieve any % reduction in consumption that you want. 50% less gas consumption? Tell me the price that gas would have to be. It’s around $6 in Europe, where incomes are a good deal lower and people are crammed together (60 million in the former West Germany, about the same size as Oregon). What price do you suggest for gas here to achieve your goals? $10? $20? Good luck running with that!

        And I even forgot to add the growing population here. Are you ready to seal the borders to keep out the hordes of illegals?

        • dean

          EE…there is nothing for me to “own up to.” I never said Kyoto was the final answer did I? It was only a start, and would be going a lot better if the US had not walked away from it.

          The proposed goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 80% in I think 50 years. This is the level that scientists believe will hold global warming to 3.5 F. And the economists say doing this level will not have much impact on economic growth. That is “the program.”

          Long before the oil runs out it will be too expensive to use. That day may be much sooner than 100 years. Meanwhile do you really want to go on financing terrorists with our own money? That seems utterly stupid to me.

          Median incomes are not a “good deal” lower in Europe than here. AVERAGE income is generally lower, though higher than us in Luxemburg and I think Norway. Our average is skewed by having a handful of billionaires and way high CEO salaries compared with Europe.

          Cap and trade combined with higher CAFE standards, improved building codes, and various incentives for renewable energy is a better program in that we can establish and make specific targets, while taxes alone can’t.

          Wind is a partial solution. solar is a partial solution. Better transit, a bit more density, and improved vehicle mileage are partial solutions. Orienting new homes with long axis to the sun (DUH!) is a partial solution. More nukes may be a partial solution. Local co-generation plants could be a partial solution. Capturing the waste heat from existing genreating plants to produce steam is a partial solution. Geothermal, wave and tide energy, are partial solutions.
          There is no single magic bullet, and we do not need to give up electricity.

          I don’t think $10 or $20 is necessary. Even at $3 a gallon we have seen shifts in the types of cars people are buying, transit use, and driving less. These shifts will however be short lived if the price stays at $3 for an extende period.

          Am I ready to seal the borders? First, I don’t think that is practical. 1/3 of undocumented workers did not come across the southern border. I think the best strategy is to go after the employers and gradually dry up the available work. This seems to already be happening in Arizona by the way.

          National density statistics are way misleading. 80% of Americans live in cities or metro areas. Its not like we are that scattered that we can’t copy some of what Europe figured out a long time ago, like better transit, smaller cars, denser housing patterns, and getting off of our fat arses and walking a bit.

          • eagle eye

            By the way — regarding our fat arses — speak for yourself. I do plenty of hiking (and drive and fly far and wide to do it, contributing lots of CO2).

            But if you really want us to adopt a Euro-lifestyle — begin by proposing $6 gas like they have. And adjust it upward for our incomes, which despite what you think, by and large are a good deal higher, especially when you consider disposable income, as anyone can tell by going there (most countries; if you want to copare with little places like Norway or Switzerland, I’ll give you Connecticutt).

  • eagle eye

    You’re just not making sense. You say:

    “The proposed goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 80% in I think 50 years.”

    But you don’t want to seal the borders. Meanwhile American population is growing by about 1% a year. In 50 years it will be 2/3 higher than it is now. Your cut in carbon emissions of 80% will mean a cut of 88% per capita. A gallon of gas a week? Yet you say the cost of this will not be $20 gas, it will be more like — what? — the $3 you mention? You are not serious. If there is a problem, you are trivializing it beyond repair.

    You can talk about what “the economists” say all you want. In the real world, this consumption drop is not going to happen, unless you raise gas prices to astronomical levels. That is not going to happen unless the oil runs out, and there are no indications that this is going to happen anytime soon. Talk to a real economist about what $20 gas would mean.

    If the real plan is so easy, why is that Kyoto — the starter plan! — has gotten virtually nowhere in results? In fact, the best results have been in countries that have not signed on to Kyoto. Shouldn’t this tell you something?

    Do I like funding terrorists with oil purchases? No, but I don’t know how to stop it. If we don’t buy it, China and India and the rest of the world will. But let’s say I really think we should consume less oil in order to defund terrorism. Don’t goof around with mileage standards (which won’t have any effect, if at all, on oil consumption, for many years). Initiate a massive gas tax right now. Offset it with cuts in the income tax. Oh, that will benefit the rich. Maybe you can get people to buy this. Increase the tax by $5 a gallon. I might even favor it, depending on the plan. But we’ve done nothing for 35 years on this. It’s not going to happen.

    And even if it does, as I say, the rest of the world is more than willing to buy the oil and finance the terrorists themselves.

    • CRAWDUDE

      Ya know, Europe slapped a 100% consumption tax on petrol years ago in a failed effort to reduce oil consumption. It had little or no effect other than to become a money making venture for the governments, which was probably the only goal when they came up with the idea.

      Though I’d like to see us less dependant on those middleastern religious fanatics and cut pollution at the same time. I don’t think raise gasoline taxes are the answer.

      • eagle eye

        Are you sure about the response? Gas there is about $6/gallon. Do you really think that has no effect on consumption? Would it have no effect here if gas cost doubled to $6? I think it would have SOME effect. I don’t think it would cut gas consumption here by half. Not even close. But 20%? 25%? More than 10% I think for sure. Maybe a good economist (not one of the UN types) would know more.

        I take your point though that minor price increases will not do much. That’s why I mention outrageous things like $20/gallon. That’s what it would probably take to do what the global warming people want.

        But if higher prices are not the answer to making us “less dependent”, please let us know what is. (Increasing U.S. production would help; it would also lower the price some; but mostly what there has been is talk for 35 years. Too many people just don’t want to turn the Rockies and the Pacific coast into oil fields. Sort of like the timber impasse.)

  • CRAWDUDE

    Actually, it wasn’t too long ago that gas was $1.20 now it’s $3 and were using twice as much. I honestly don’t believe that the price of gas has any effect on it’s usage at all.

    People will cut back in other areas of their lives in order to afford the gas. The biggest worries I hear economists talking about is gas getting so high that consumers quit spending on other things, after all , ours is a consumer driven economy for the most part.

    I believe alternative fuel has a big place in getting us away from oil dependancy( unfortunately those incentives were just gutted from the current budget bill in congress at the same time they pulled the timber payments). Higher MPG standards will help, drilling in our own ice covered oil tank, there are a lot of ways to decrease our dependancy on foriegn oil. Like you said though, most of the time its talk and little action. As proven by them pulling alternative fuel incentives, seems like the pls. are the ones happy with the status quo.

    • dean

      EE…I am for a gas tax raise, or better, a carbon tax so that we can discourage coal as well. I just don’t think the idea has any political legs, though a cap and trade system does. Economists by the way, can and do predict the consumption effect of raising taxes on gas or anything else. Economics is a predictive field, though fraught with complications and caviets.

      On European income versus ours, I came across an interesting analysis last night. France has a per capita income about 75% that of the US. That makes them look poorer until you factor a few things in. First, they all have health insurance, and their delivery system is considered the best in the world. Second, they CHOOSE to work a lot less than us. Every worker gets 5-6 weeks off every year paid. Third, their retirement age is much lower than ours (this has created problems that Sarkozy is determined to fix). Fourth, their young folks stay in school longer than ours and don’t have to work while in school since they are supported by the state. Lastly their national poverty rate is well below ours. France is not a good place to be a rich person, but a great place to be poor or middle class. (Also their violent crime rate is a fraction of ours).

      CD..I AM DEFINITELY FOR reducing our undocumented worker population in the US, and I’m not advocating a big increase in legal immigration. But whether those workers are here or somewhere else they will still be alive and burning carbon right? I assume that agreed upon reduction targets among nations takes account of population growth or decline, just like they account for relative prosperity.

      After the next US election, we are going to be on board with greenhouse gas reductions, I all but guarentee you. And we and the world will be the better for it.

      • eagle eye

        Cap and trade has legs because it hides the cost, for a littel while. Once the pore dumb folks done have figgered it out, it’s over, is my guess, especially if you live in a country like ours where the people still have some say. Give me an honest $5 gas tax and I might go for it, just make sure to offset some other tax.

        I’ve spent a fair bit of time in France, briefly considered moving there, and had an opportunity. A friend or two have experienced the French health system, no thanks. Their hospitals look like something out of the 50s in the U.S. Paris and the other big cities have all the homeless you could want. I could introduce you to people in the academic system there who will tell you how crummie it is compared to the U.S. It’s true, they don’t spend much on the military, which is one reason they’re warming up to us again. Their demographic problems — I won’t go into details — make me shudder compared to ours.

        A nice place to visit, I don’t envy their future though.

    • eagle eye

      DUDE, is that you? Higher mileage standards, alternative fuels? You sound like the liberals I see most of the time.

      • dean

        I’m not an expert on France, having been there for 3 weeks. Statistically, their health system bests ours on a lot of fronts, particularly cost versus effectiveness. Our system is of course hard to compare with others simply because we exclude so many people from it at any given point in time.

        And they do have a lot of nukes. You should like that aspect.

        We’ll see what happens. The Bali conference ended on an interesting note. A big crack in the US shield has appeared. My sense is a big majority of the American people are very ready for positive action at long last.

        • eagle eye

          We’ve probably gone over this enough. I do like a lot about France, including their nukes, they are way ahead of us on that.

          If the country is serious — I doubt it — I wouldn’t mind seeing REAL carbon reductions in the U.S. through a prolonged program of building nuclear power plants, and a hefty gasoline tax — $5/gallon? — thoroughly offset by reductions in income or payroll taxes, or both. With no subsidies for the poor to undo the effects of the tax on consumption. I have my doubts about the carbon threat, but both of the proposals above would have other beneficial effects. I don’t think cutting carbon is an urgent priority, but I and most of the skeptics like myself think that eventually carbon emissions are going to have to be reduced, one way or another.

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