Absolute Power

The opponents of the massive tax increase have suffered a set back with the publication of the ballot title and explanatory statement by Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) and Attorney General John Kroger (D). The ballot titles for Measures 66 and 67 are designed to bias the election process and that they do. No one should be surprised.

This is the newest tactic of the public employee unions and it has found fertile ground in their hand picked appartachicks — Brown and Kroger. (Remember, in the Democrat primary, Brown and Kroger were picked by the public employee unions over the better qualified Rick Metsger and Greg MacPherson, respectively; and in the general election the principle campaign financial support came from the public employee unions.)

It’s not so much the language that Brown and Kroger chose but rather that they, as elected public officials, would use the power of the state to bias the outcome of the initiative process. The founders of Oregon’s constitution crafted the initiative process as the last defense against an entrenched and unresponsive government. When citizens had exhausted their efforts with the elected officials, they had the final opportunity to present their case and their solution to the other voters of the state. The crafting of the ballot language should be to inform the voters — not to bias the election.

In this instance the ballot title language, while important, is probably not critical. This is a simple choice. Are Oregon voters going to raise their taxes in the middle of a deep recession and high unemployment in order to expand government and provide substantial raises and enhanced benefits to the public employee unions?

The Democrats, at the direction of the public employee unions, have already done a masterful job of playing the “class envy” card by limiting the tax increase primarily to the “rich” — in this case those earning over $125,000 per year. Unfortunately, the public employee unions — never having worked in the private sector or for an employer they can’t control with campaign funds — fail to understand that those making over $125,000 are the very people who create jobs.

Having watched the loss of over 130,000 private sector jobs, one would think that those in control of government would do everything within their power to, first, stop the job destruction, and, second, encourage the creation and growth of jobs for its citizens. Not so, in Oregon. The primary focus of government is government growth and preservation, including the enhanced salaries and benefits for the public employees — increasingly represented by the public employee unions.

But the acquisition and exercise of executive power unchecked for over twenty years has proven to be an insatiable drug and like other “junkies” those with the power — primarily the public employee unions — simply can’t resist acquiring more.

They control the governor, the secretary of state and the attorney general. The only place they cannot exercise control by virtue of their $60 million biennial war chest is the electorate themselves — and that is represented primarily in the initiative process. No person or group of persons can match the spending of the public employee unions on a repetitive basis — they can’t come even close. But the vast superiority in terms of campaign spending is still not enough — not when you want absolute control.

That pesky initiative process has been the target of the public employee unions for years now. First — as usual — they resorted to intimidation, sending hordes of behemoths, emblazoned with T-shirts proclaiming their fealty to their local public employee union, and glowering menacingly at signature gathers and signatories. They swamped election official with spurious complaints. They used their political relationships to extract burdensome regulations. When none of those buried the initiative process, they turned to a new trick — skewing the ballot language to bias the election. They did it first using the substantial Democrat majority in both houses with Measure 37 and now they are doing directly through their chosen Secretary of State and Attorney General.

This is about power. The public employee unions have it. They are exercising it ruthlessly and reaping huge financial benefits. This tax increase is vital to the continued exercise of their power. They need the revenue that flows from tax dollars through the public employees and into their union coffers.

The manipulation of the ballot language is just one more element in their complete dominance of Oregon’s political process.

Now the ballot language has been appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court. I was reading an article the other day by a justice of the Arizona Supreme Court in which he recounted that the “essential role of the judiciary [is] protecting individual liberty against infringement by the majority. . .“ One wonders whether Oregon’s Supreme Court holds a similar view or if they prefer to cater to the power structure of Oregon’s political class.

Power corrupts and absolute power runs Oregon.