"The people must rule the corporations or the corporations will rule the State. I believe that if God intended that the corporations, and not the people, should rule he would have created the corporations first."
The quotation is from the Declaration of Principles of Oswald West campaigning for governor of Oregon in 1910. West's opponent in the race was acting Gov., Jay Bowerman, father of Bill Bowerman, renowned track and field coach at the University of Oregon and co-founder of Nike.
At the time, The Oregon Journal stated, "The question that is confronting the people of Oregon in this campaign is not so much whether West or Bowerman is elected governor but it is whether the people of Oregon or the corporations shall rule the State." The people elected Oswald West as their governor.
Over 100 years later the state of Oregon has abdicated the rule of the people to the rule of Nike for 500 jobs and a $150 million Nike expansion plan in exchange for a tax rate "freeze" for 30 years.
There are many questions about the jobs, the $150 million expansion plan, the decision process and the tax rate freeze, but the fundamental issue is who controls Oregon.
Citizen control or corporate control? This could be a seismic shift for the state.
I still have the following questions about this deal:
Do 500 jobs created in a 30-year period represent a significant job program?
Will the jobs be for current Oregon residents?
Will the jobs be living wage or poverty scale?
Will the workers have the right to organize and form unions?
Will the 500 jobs compensate for the jobs lost in education, health care, infrastructure and potential government revenue through a tax rate freeze?
How many small Oregon businesses can shell out $150 million for expansion?
Will other corporations and businesses get a similar deal?
Who will make up for the loss of potential tax revenue?
Who benefits? Who loses?
Why not freeze the tax rates for real people, aka taxpayers, instead of corporations?
Will Nike continue to receive tax breaks and subsidies to fund overseas operations?
Will Nike executives and stockholders invest their 30-year bonanza in Oregon or hide their wealth in offshore tax havens?
Why was the democratic process circumvented, with an announcement being made on a Monday and then a special session of the legislature called to make a vote that Friday?
Was there any opportunity for public input?
Is there anything fair about the process or the giveaway to Nike?
Sue Bastian, Very Concerned Citizen
Have something to say? Send your thoughts to email@example.com. Letters must be received by noon on Friday for inclusion in the following week's paper. Please limit letters to 400 words. Submission does not guarantee publication.