Every so often, Oregonians experience an Elvis Presley moment—when almost everyone is “all shook up” and these shake ups almost always take place over proposals to raise taxes. Our illustrious legislature cannot come to grip the matter with any consequences, mainly, because they are too often more concerned about keeping their capital jobs than behaving like statesmen. Hence, in recent years all they can agree on is to try to take money away from those former state workers who kept things going and are now retired PERS’ beneficiaries.
What happens in the vacuum is that Oregonians who want to realize progress in this state must use the initiative process to stop the hemorrhaging in critical areas such as public education, health care and services for seniors. At the same time, the observer wonders how it is that grown-up voters in Oregon fail to realize that they subsidize the large corporations, their customers and stockholders, that realize big profits in Oregon.
These corporations use our roads, bridges, and so many other publicly financed services but make almost no contribution by taxation to the care and maintenance of these and other public facilities and services. Further, they expect well-educated and technically-trained people here to employ and create a good place to live but do not want to help pay the costs.
Does Donald Trump represent all these corporate types throughout the nation? Trump says he’s smart not to pay taxes and apparently sets the pace by modern day American corporations to relocate their headquarters overseas and shelter income elsewhere. Infrastructure concerns? By way of corporate speak, they say they want to ship their products into and all around Oregon but quietly let the little guy in the state pay for everything from which they benefit while their profits are pocketed to the personal advantage of big corporation CEOs and their executive subordinates.
Of course, those who invest—the stockholders—and those who run the national corporations should receive compensation that makes the risks worthwhile and keep the American economic engine reasonably healthy and viable. However, free-reigning capitalism, a condition seldom known in the U.S. anymore because of federal subsidies to the big corporations, cannot be tolerated in a country that got used to enjoying a strong middle class during the last century. The people of this state additionally subsidize the national corporations that operate here, affording them nearly tax-free status while those families and individuals living here pay their way and get stuck with all the bills in the process.
What’s going on now with Oregon’s lowest-in-the-nation taxation of corporations is not right and it is not helping to preserve a democracy when only corporations can enjoy the American dream via a good life. It is high time we Oregonians do something about our plight in spite of our legislators and rock and roll that ballot to read “Yes” on Measure 97. Otherwise, the national corporations view us as a bunch of easy pushovers as they get their surrogates by TV ads and mailers to create a ruse over false claims of a hidden sales tax while a “no” vote falls for it.
(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)