Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wandering Observations, Post-Civil War

Posted By on Sun, Dec 5, 2010 at 8:42 PM

I’m still recuperating from celebrating the Ducks’ glorious victory in the Civil War yesterday and can’t focus long enough to write more than a couple of paragraphs on any one topic, so here are a few random short takes:

***

Bulletin Business Editor John Stearns has a column this morning about momentum in Bend’s tech sector, which he defines as “software development, information technology, biosciences, green energy and other so-called knowledge industries.”

“In a report Friday,” Stearns writes, “Economic Development for Central Oregon’s executive director, Roger Lee, noted 12 Central Oregon companies that have at least doubled (or are planning to do so) their employment, the lion’s share of them in tech.”

One software developer, GL Solutions, plans to double its workforce by March, Stearns reports. Other local firms expanding include Manzama, G5 Search Marketing, PV Powered, Agere Pharmaceuticals and MediSISS. Bend Research, which was founded in 1975, has “added 50 people in the past eight months and is now at 185,” according to Stearns.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the start of that great exodus of businesses fleeing Oregon to escape from its supposedly crushing tax burden.

***

State Rep. Michael Dembrow, a Democrat from the Portland area, is floating an interesting proposal for Oregon to set up its own single-payer health care system.

Unless we try something different, Dembrow writes on Blue Oregon, “At best, what we’re going to continue to have is a patchwork system. There’s a real danger that people are going to fall through the cracks, middle-class families are going to pay more, and small businesses are going to continue to be hammered” by the cost of health insurance for their employees.

What Dembrow is proposing is “a system like Medicare, but extended to all. Everyone would pay into the system in a progressive manner, and it would relieve the burden on Oregon’s small businesses. Initial projections show that we could create a system that in total would cost no more than we are currently paying as individuals, businesses, and the state — but everyone would be covered, would have access to quality care by the provider of their choice, and the rise in costs could be contained.”

The big question, of course, is how are we going to pay for all this?

The draft of Dembrow’s legislation, called the Affordable Health Care for All Oregonians Act, says the system “will be funded by a system of dedicated taxes, progressive in nature and based on ability to pay. In addition to payroll and personal income taxes, the [governing] board will investigate and consider other potential revenue sources, including a transaction tax on stocks and bonds, a progressive surtax on higher incomes, and a progressive tax on gross business receipts divided by full-time equivalent employment.”

In an era when it’s considered almost an act of treason to even whisper the word “tax,” that’ll be a tough sell. Still, Dembrow’s idea should at least be a starting point for a discussion that this state really needs to have.

***

The Civil War is over and the Beavers put up a gallant, though losing, fight. Now it’s time for all Oregonians – Ducks, Beavers or neither – to join forces for the honor and glory of their state. The Oregon Duck has reached the semi-finals of the Capitol One College Mascot of the Year contest and needs our help to make it to the championship. Click here and vote early and often.


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