Thursday, May 15, 2014

What the Chamber of the 1%'s policies produce

Since 1980, the country has taken a sharp and persistent turn for the worse, adopting measure after measure promoted by the wealthiest as "good for jobs" but actually just good for them, and terrible for everyone else.

Here in Salem, the Chamber of the 1% has thrown its weight and money around to great effect, winning excessive and unjustified power and influence over government policies. This year, the Chamber and its alter egos in the Sprawl Lobby (real estate and house building) recognized the threat that a rebellion against foolish spending on sprawl posed to them -- so they recruited four interchangeable candidates, and have pumped obscene amounts of money into their campaigns, which bid fair to succeed in keeping Salem in a terrible mess:  declining services for ordinary folks but fat contracts and nice tax gifts for the well-connected.

There's just a few days left to change this sad story, making sure that people know that we can do better, lots better. It's very difficult to do against the power of organized money, but we can do it if we try.  

Voters in wards 2, 4, 6, have very good alternatives who could easily pull off the win against Chamber's minions.  

Those candidates who deserve all of the support you can offer are 

Tom Andersen (2), Scott Bassett (4), and Xue Lor (6).  

All three are running against content-free platitude peddlers whose only apparent goal is to ensure that the Chamber doesn't face any serious scrutiny in Council chambers. And Lor is running against a guy with a very checkered past and dubious present, who is trying to conceal it.

(The other non-Chamber clone in Ward 2, Bradd Swank, seems to be a fine person, but the winner take all nature of the November race means that it's important to see an opponent best the Chamber clone candidate in the primary if possible, so that the Chamber House Organ, the unStatesmanlike-Journal can't crown the Chamber clone as the presumptive winner. Doing this is most likely with Andersen.  In Ward 8, the lightly experienced Proudfoot offers a decent alternative to filling that seat with another sprawl-booster, but it's hard to see that race turning out well.)

For Mayor, the best option seems to be to leave it blank.

Below is a good short summary of what listening to folks like the Chamber too much has wrought. It's by Nick Kristof of the NY Times, native of Yamhill, Oregon.

Yet today the American dream has derailed, partly because of growing inequality. Or maybe the American dream has just swapped citizenship, for now it is more likely to be found in Canada or Europe — and a central issue in this year's political campaigns should be how to repatriate it.

A report last month in The Times by David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy noted that the American middle class is no longer the richest in the world, with Canada apparently pulling ahead in median after-tax income. Other countries in Europe are poised to overtake us as well.

In fact, the discrepancy is arguably even greater. Canadians receive essentially free health care, while Americans pay for part of their health care costs with after-tax dollars. Meanwhile, the American worker toils, on average, 4.6 percent more hours than a Canadian worker, 21 percent more hours than a French worker and an astonishing 28 percent more hours than a German worker, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Canadians and Europeans also live longer, on average, than Americans do. Their children are less likely to die than ours. American women are twice as likely to die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth as Canadian women. And, while our universities are still the best in the world, children in other industrialized countries, on average, get a better education than ours. Most sobering of all: A recent O.E.C.D. report found that for people aged 16 to 24, Americans ranked last among rich countries in numeracy and technological proficiency. . . .