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Friday, July 13, 2007

State's economic policies widen wealth gap

Oregon governments in "Reverse Robin Hood" scheme
Are you better off than you were 30 years ago?

Thirty years ago, state government signaled a new progressivism by starting a program at the Univ. of Oregon for the benefit of organized labor called the Labor Education and Research Center, or LERC.

The taxpayer investment paradigm, modeled closely on that of Western Europe's social democracies, called for the collectivization of political and civic life. Labor unions were granted the legal authority to occupy the political power center, and to wield the gavel in determining winners and losers in public budgets and regulations.

In a blistering critique of the so-called "LERC Agenda", a coalition of in-state free-market think tanks this week blasted Oregon's new #1-in-the-nation ranking for government unions.

According to the critics, Oregon's labor rank proves that the new progressivism is a colossal failure. They say the regime has resulted in a widening of the state's wealth gap, via the prosecution of a "reverse Robin Hood" scheme where the government robs from the poor - in the form of regressive taxation and regulation that kills jobs and raises the cost of living - and gives to the rich - in the form of subsidies, legislated monopolies and protections. According to the critics, Oregon's success is in spite of, not on account of, the new progressivism.

They complain that Oregon politics and mostly-meaningless candidate elections amount to advance auctions on stolen goods, and that state and local governments in Oregon are, in effect, a legalized kleptocracy where politically-connected insiders form an apparatchik that reserves the spoils for itself. Here, the spoils that translate directly into votes include an overabundance of government jobs and tax-free state and federal pensions. They point out that by now, Oregon's PERS system is wealthy enough to have recently bought 10% of TPG, the private equity behemoth formerly known as Texas Pacific Group.

Labor government defenders on the progressive blog BlueOregon.com admit that they have no working knowledge of the complex web of federal and state labor laws. That did not prevent them from lashing out at the "self-styled" free-market think-tank coalition with charges of "politics-as-usual." Kari Chilsom, the blog's founder who also manages the state AFL-CIO website, announced that state investigators have launched an inquiry that could result in revoking coalition members' tax-exempt status.

The Oregonian, July 13, By BETSY HAMMOND

1 comment:

OregonGuy said...

Hopefully they're union-members as well as investigators.

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