If you don’t live in Oregon, you may not know that our new marketing/branding slogan, or tag line, is now “Oregon, we love dreamers.” Yeah, right. Oregon loves the predictable, the status quo, the uncreative, the simplistic answers to serious problems. Clear evidence for this is tonight’s apparent 60-40% defeat of Measure 30, the 2003 legislature’s hard-fought bipartisan solution to our budget problems that was referred to the voters after an out-of-state anti-tax group stuck its nose into Oregon’s affairs.
Because most people are selfish, and don’t bother to inform themselves about complex issues, it looks like 60% of the voters fell for the utterly untrue argument of the “No on 30” campaign: “There’s plenty of money in state government. It just is being wasted. So vote ‘no,’ and school days really won’t have to be cut, and tens of thousands of people won’t be tossed off of the Oregon Health Plan, and the state crime lab won’t have to fire most of its employees.” Except, almost certainly all of this, and more, will happen. And worse, most of those 60% won’t care, because they’ll have their $58 a year, or whatever, that they will have saved by voting down Measure 30.
I used to be proud to be an Oregonian. Now, I’m not. We’re becoming the Northwest’s Appalachia, surrounded by states inhabited by people who better understand that government is necessary to supply the goods and services that individuals can’t obtain on their own. Like roads, schools, parks, health care for the poor, law enforcement. When I moved here in 1971 Oregon truly did love dreamers. We kept the Pacific beaches open to everyone. We passed one of the first bottle bills. We established a land use system that keeps cities citified and the country countrified, with very little urban sprawl.
People wanted to be move here to be part of the Oregon dream. Now, it’s more like a nightmare. Any corporate executive who considered moving his company here would have to think really hard about whether he wants his children going to schools that soon will have the shortest school year in the country. We’ve lost the ability to look beyond our own pocketbooks. Vision, dreams, doing things differently—these are dirty words in Oregon now. Cut taxes. Less government. These simplistic mantras comprise the full extent of the conservative/Republican agenda, which somehow a majority of Oregonians have bought into.
If you’re thinking of moving here, don’t. If you’re thinking of investing here, think again. Someday, I’m sure, things will get better. But before they do, things will get worse. It starts tomorrow, when people begin to realize what it means to cut $800 million out of a small state’s budget.