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Friday, November 9, 2007

Wrong Again

We had two big measures on the ballot Tuesday: Measures 49 & 50. Wednesday's headline in the Oregonian summed it up pretty well:

ELECTION 2007
MEASURE 49
Yes: 61.9% $4.8 million spent
No: 38.1% $2.3 million spent
MEASURE 50Yes: 40.5% $3.4 million spentNo: 59.5% $11.8 million spent

Just goes to show that if you have enough money you can pretty much get what you want, and the Measure 49 proponents (I am not sure who they are) and the Measure 50 opponents (the cigarette companies) got what they wanted.

Measure 50 issue is a little more clear cut, so I will start there. Measure 50 would raise cigarette taxes. The extra revenue would go towards children's health care. The money spent campaigning against this measure came from the cigarette companies. I voted for it simply because the cigarette companies were against it. Also, raising cigarette taxes would increase the profit margins for people smuggling cigarettes from Idaho, and we always need more good paying jobs. But it looks like the cigarette companies were able to persuade people raising this tax was not a good idea.

I remember visiting Canada 30 odd years ago and everyone I ran into up there rolled their own cigarettes. One truck driver I met had a baggy with about 30 cigarettes in it. He told me he and his wife would sit down and roll a thousand or so and seal them up in baggies. He would have enough to last for weeks. I do not think I have ever run into an American who rolls his own. The point is I don't feel bad about raising taxes for smokers. If they weren't so lazy, they could roll their own and save $4 a pack. Plain tobacco is not expensive, only when it is rolled into cigarettes does it get taxed.

Measure 49 has something to do with land use laws. I voted against this one just because I do not like people clogging up the ballot with complicated measures that hold no interest for me. Oregon has a set of laws that are supposed to contain urban sprawl and preserve land for farming. A couple of years ago Measure 37 was passed that really upset the apple cart. Measure 49 was supposed to correct it. The whole thing does not make much sense to me. If it was really a case of the state taking away value from land, you would think the courts would have settled it a long time ago. And this business of preserving land for farming is a bunch of hooey. Would you like to know what the biggest agricultural crop in Oregon is? It is grass seed! Criminently, we are trying to contain urban sprawl so we can grow more grass seed for golf courses and lawns? Give me a break!

I do not like urban sprawl, but I would rather see us building compact cities that attracted people to live in them rather continuing on in our inept manner that causes people to move to the suburbs in search of affordable housing.

I saw one sign supporting Measure 49 that said Open Spaces or Urban Sprawl? Open spaces are an illusion, around these parts anyway. There are open fields around here, but they aren't really open, they belong to some farmer, and he has crops planted on it. So you can't just go wandering around in these fields. Of course, any kind of open land does not have houses on it, which means there are no people there, which means there are fewer cars on the road, but that is just a temporary condition. With more people, there are going to be more houses somewhere. Maybe not right here, maybe they will be farther out, which means people will be driving farther to work. I do not see a good end to this.


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