Happy 10th Birthday Oregon Catalyst!

OC_10th birthday_thb

by NW Spotlight

The first Oregon Catalyst article was posted ten years ago tomorrow, on December 2, 2005. The article was titled Achieving Fiscal Sustainability, and was written by Jay Bozievich, who was a member of the Lane Community College Board of Education at the time. Jay now serves on the Lane County Board of Commissioners where he was first elected in November, 2010.

Jay’s article from ten years ago is just as relevant today!

The official welcome to Oregon Catalyst was posted on December 6, 2005:

“This Blog will be the collection of the best free-market and conservative minds, ideas, and commentary in Oregon. Expect a new update every week-day. We encourage all freedom-loving Oregonians to join the cerebral revolution by responding to the daily commentary. Your input is more important than you might think.”

Other articles posted on the first day of Oregon Catalyst (December 2, 2005) were:

This 2005 gem by Larry Huss contains this interesting, prescient and relevant discussion on PERS:

“PERS is a mess that continues to threaten to throw Oregon into a financial blackhole. The politicians, all beneficiaries of its excesses, studiously ignored the problem for years out of fear of the public employees unions. In 2002, Ron Saxton made the issue a central theme of his primary campaign for governor. While Saxton lost the primary, the governor and legislature was forced to acknowledge the problem and participate in a reasonable solution. Unfortunately, Oregon’s Supreme Court, also beneficiaries of Oregon overblown pensions system, axed the major reforms and returned Oregon to a state of fiscal crises. In doing so, the Supreme Court attempted to wall off any further attempts to reform the system.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision, I spoke with Ron Saxton. He was angry and frustrated. He denounced the court’s decision as outrageous and purely political and shortly thereafter authored an article in BrainstormNW that suggested the only solution left was to fire all of Oregon’s public employees and hire them back under a new less burdensome pension plan. WHAM! The politicians and pundits poured out in droves to denounce Saxton’s solution. Curiously, not one of those critics offered an alternative solution to a very real problem.

Did Saxton really mean he would fire all the public employees? I doubt it. Saxton is a pretty sensible person. He’s not going to shut down government to prove a point, but he is willing to go to extremes to force a reasonable solution to a real problem. In his proposal is the germ of a real solution. You can’t fire all of the public employees but you can systematically begin to privatize functions performed by public employees and thus eliminate the burden of PERS as to those employees. At a point in time, the public employees unions, threatened with the continuing loss of membership, will come to the table and bargain for a solution. And don’t worry about the Supreme Court voiding this solution because Saxton was right when he said the court’s last decision was purely political. Once the public employees unions give the nod to a solution, the court will find a way to uphold it.”