Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oregon passes 66 and 67

One small victory in the battle against the plutocracy!

Measures 66 and 67 were approved by voters yesterday by comfortable margins.  Currently the tally has them each passing by approximately 5-7%.  This is good news and seems to buck the supposed national trend that Republicans have been trumpeting as "a rejection of big government" ever since voters rejected the Democratic candidate in the Massachusetts senate race.

(Personally, I think Republicans are overplaying their victory in Massachusetts.  They always do.  But let them imagine that the national electorate is longing for a return to the dark days of the Bush administration.  They'll fall flat on their faces, which is something else they always manage to do.)

So, fresh on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling that seemed to affirm corporate oligarchy, Oregonians send out a dissenting opinion with this election.  Corporations may control Washington, DC, and their power may be growing, but here in Oregon we're not quite ready to lay down for them.

As a result of these two measures passing, corporations and high-income individuals will now be compelled to contribute more to state coffers to help fund many services, chief among them being public education.

This victory, while significant and important for the state, is only a small skirmish in the larger battle to restore our republic.  Wouldn't it be nice if this was the opening salvo in a resurgence of populism?  A reassertion of the rights of people, actual human beings, over neo-feudal corporations?  Referendums like this one are one of the few methods that we, the people, have for fighting back.  It is foolhardy to imagine that Democrats or Republicans or even the now-tarnished President Obama will do anything for us.  All of them bow down before their corporate masters, as we have seen with the Wall Street bailouts (which seem to be the only congressional actions capable of mustering bipartisan support).

Chris Hedges, the author of American Fascism, wrote an article the other day, entitled Democracy in America is a Useful Fiction, that bemoans the death of our republic. It's a tough read:  not for the faint at heart.  He makes a compelling case that national elections are meaningless charades; that they are diversions, like voting for your favorite contestant on American Idol. 

The two parties stir up animosity between the various demographics of this country, knowing that if we are divided about so-called "social issues" like abortion, immigration, and gay rights, we are unlikely to unify in opposition to the plundering of our national treasury by corporations and obscenely-wealthy financiers.

I guess we Oregonians are slow to get the message.  Or maybe just slow to give up hope.  Or maybe we're ready to lead the charge away from plutocracy.  Frame it however you like.  It may be a fool's errand to even imagine that we can reverse the corporate takeover of our democracy.  But, in that case, I accept the label of "fool" willingly.

Measures 66 and 67 passed!  Savor this small victory and move on to the next battle.  We've got a long way to go.

1 comment:

Dan Binmore said...

Dade, I wonder at your comments about the death of the republic. I think this republic is a fiction, Amercans are richer, and more free than they ever have been before. The founding fathers didn't think the common rabble should have a voice, only those with wealth should be allowed to govern because they have demonstrated that they are more capable than most.

The wealthy in the late 1800's and early 1900's had more power than they have now.

This appalling doom-laden system has been around for several centuries and produced the richest and most free country in all of history. I despair of what you might have thought about things if you had lived anywhere else at any other time in the past, when things were worse.

Increasing taxes on corporations will make things cost more, a complicated version of a sales tax, a regressive tax. However, it will produce more money for services, which pay for themselves many times over. Income tax on a curve without loopholes is the fairest method of taxation, and it should be spent on things that save money and make communities better, like education and social services. But I don't get angry because things will never be how I wish them to be.