Friday, September 25, 2009

Now that the rich have captured the initiative & referendum process, what's left?

Oregonians were early adopters of the initiative and referendum processes, the highlight of the Progressive Era reforms, which were needed to break the stranglehold wealth had on state legislatures in the Gilded Age of the 19th and early 20th Century.

Now that we're suffering the aftershocks from the cataclysmic collapse of the Second Gilded Age, one with excesses that make the famous Robber Barons look like small-time grifters, we find that the same forces have captured the I&R game and turned it into their private preserve. If the bought-and-sold politicians show even the slightest signs of incipient vertebrate status, passing even the mildest of reforms and reducing the gains of the wealthy by something on the order of a rounding error in the third decimal place, they unleash their reserve army of desperately poor people with orders for them to go collect signatures against the interests of themselves and every other Oregonian (including the rich themselves, whose greed blinds them to penalty they pay for living in a two-class country with a hollowed-out place where the middle class used to be).

I'm not ready to do away with the I&R system. Yet. But if this repeal of the recent tiny tax hikes passes then we need to figure out whether there's anything "progressive" left of the progressive's signature reform or whether it's just another way for the corporations to shaft the people of Oregon.

No comments: