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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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Friday, December 3, 2010

That Weird Duck-vs.-Beaver Thing

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 8:47 PM

As tension builds to almost unbearable heights before tomorrow’s Civil War, which by all accounts is even more momentous than the original 1861-1865 version, let us consider a provocative – but, I think, absolutely right-on-the-money – observation made by Jake on UtterlyBoring.com.

In a post headlined “Beaver Fans Are Crazy People,” Jake writes: “I root for all the schools in this state – whether it's OSU, UO, PSU, UP, WOU, EOU, SOU, George Fox, Willamette, Concordia, etc. … whatever – unless they're playing the Ducks, and then I root for the Ducks. Beaver fans, however, want to see the Ducks fail miserably whenever possible and will root for anybody who's playing the Ducks.

“I've watched a few Duck football games with Beaver fans, and they were rooting for the opposition the entire time. When I watch a Beaver game, I root for the Beavers. Beaver fans apparently are incapable of rooting for anybody other than the Beavers, and certainly don't want to see any team in Oregon succeed other than the Beavers.”

There’s a lot riding on Saturday’s game for Oregon – an undefeated season and the chance to play the national championship game. For OSU … well, if they win they’ll have a .500 season and a chance to play in the Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl or the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, maybe. (No, I did not make those bowls up.)

But although their team is going nowhere the Beaver fans are out for Duck blood, and plenty of it. They want to wreck Oregon’s unbeaten season and its shot at the national title. They want to make the Ducks settle for the Rose Bowl – and if they do, Beaver fans will be rooting for them to lose that too.

Duck fans, in my experience, don’t have the same venomous attitude. In 2008, for instance, OSU and Oregon faced off in another Civil War game. That year OSU had a shot to go to the Rose Bowl; Oregon didn’t. Although normally a Duck fan, I rooted for the Beavers so that my state would have a team in the Rose Bowl. (It didn't -- the Ducks won in a blowout, 65-38.)

Naturally, the Beavers would like revenge for that drubbing. But as Jack points out, Beaver fans will root against the Ducks not only when they’re playing their own team, but when they’re playing anybody – even a team from that detested state to the south.

Why do Beavers apparently hate Ducks so much more than Ducks hate Beavers? I think it’s because they have a bit of an inferiority complex.

Oregon State, a land-grant university, has a more rural, agrarian history and identity. For a long time, it was perceived as being all about (as a retired OSU professor once expressed it to me) “cattle and cookin’.” Oregon, on the other hand, is seen – rightly or wrongly – as more urbane, more liberal, more intellectual.

In other (Tea Party) words, more "elitist."

Oregon State alumni drink Coors or Miller Lite. Oregon alumni drink micro-brews or chardonnay.

Oregon State alumni drive extended-cab pickups with HEMI engines. Oregon alumni drive Subaru wagons or Priuses.

“As a true Oregonian … I'd be excited if the Ducks and Beavers were both undefeated and this was for all the marbles,” Jake concludes his post.

As a true Oregonian, I agree – that would be one hell of a game. But since that’s not the way things are, I have just two words to say:

GO DUCKS!


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