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Class Warfare?
January 26, 2010 11:06 AM   Subscribe

Today, Oregon voters will decide whether or not to increase taxes on businesses and the rich. Ballots for Measures 66 and 67 are due today at 8pm, polling is extremely tight, and at this point the election will be decided by turnout. With the opposing sides having collected a combined $10.1 million in donations, Oregonians have spent the last month deluged by political ads, canvassers, and phone calls. Whatever the outcome, this election has at least had the effect of making "spadea" into a household word.

If you're an Oregon voter and haven't yet cast your ballot, you can find the nearest official ballot drop box at the Secretary of State's website.

Online Voter's Guide (Oregon Secretary of State)
Vote YES for Oregon (Yes Campaign)
Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes (No Campaign)
posted by OverlappingElvis (169 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
My God. If this doesn't make it crystal clear to the media why no one trusts them, I don't know what would.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


WAKE UP SHEEPLE!
posted by Joe Beese at 11:10 AM on January 26, 2010


I wonder if anyone will vote No on 66 and Yes on 67.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:15 AM on January 26, 2010


Ah, the old "taxes will cause unemployment to explode" canard.

Also, you know who collected a lot of taxes from the poor?

That's right.

Prince John.
posted by GuyZero at 11:17 AM on January 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I can't believe that a mefi post reminded me I need to fill in and turn in my election ballot.

Thanks MetaFilter!
posted by mathowie at 11:18 AM on January 26, 2010 [16 favorites]


I really wish that people didn't think of government, tax-funded jobs as something wildly different from other sorts of jobs. Firing teachers in the middle of a recession rather than taxing businesses? That's some job-killing, there. If the business sector is loathe to provide full employment (which it seems like they are), it's clearly right to tax them and use the proceeds to hire government workers.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:21 AM on January 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Complicating matters further, the Legislature has essentially already spent the $727 million in projected revenue by incorporating the anticipated tax increases into the current budget. If the measures fail, lawmakers will have to make new cuts or find another way to raise revenue.

This paragraph, and others like it, will be the epitaph of America in the 21st century and beyond. Dwindling natural resources, expensive foreign conquests, apathy, pollution, crime, disease, religious fanaticism, authoritarianism and the total lack of will to deal with any of these problems -- is this Ancient Rome? No, it's the United States, grasping at straws and gasping for breath.

The more I consider it, the more I am lead to an unavoidable conclusion: our civilization is dying.
posted by Avenger at 11:22 AM on January 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


I wonder if anyone will vote No on 66 and Yes on 67.

What would lead you to believe no one would vote that way?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:23 AM on January 26, 2010


WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

Could you elaborate on this? Your self-evident snark has got me all confounded.
posted by billysumday at 11:24 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


The more I consider it, the more I am lead to an unavoidable conclusion: our civilization is dying.

Too many years of Slashdot reading forces me to say this:

Netcraft confirms it.
posted by GuyZero at 11:25 AM on January 26, 2010


I wonder if anyone will vote No on 66 and Yes on 67.

Wonder no more. Someone will.
posted by The World Famous at 11:25 AM on January 26, 2010


Whatever the outcome, this election has at least had the effect of making "spadea" into a household word.

Man, I haven't read the Oregonian or watched TV news in years, but since I started working from home I don't even pick up Willamette Week or The Mercury very often. I missed the whole spadea thing entirely.

Oregon budget conflicts are always weird, especially inside Portland city limits; we're the only big city in a pretty sizeable state, so the generally pretty liberal political culture in town suddenly starts bouncing off the much more conservative bent of the rest of the state's landmass whenever state-wide issues become a thing. Cf. various gay-rights over the years.

67 in particular is a weirdy; it's not so much of a question of if it or something like it will pass, but when—as the decades between now and when the law was set continue to grow, the datedness of what's on the books is just going to keep growing. Something's going to snap.
posted by cortex at 11:26 AM on January 26, 2010


What would lead you to believe no one would vote that way?

I wasn't being sarcastic; I think that there will almost certainly be some people who do, simply because it seems mathematically impossible otherwise, but I can't come up with the cohesive worldview that would motivate someone to vote suchly.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:26 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh hey, everyone knows that local newspapers of bastions of integrity without which corruption will flourish people! All this paper did was accept a huge advertising fee to repeat something were totally going to say anyway!

It's totally inconceivable that a local paper could be involved in local corruption in any way!
posted by delmoi at 11:29 AM on January 26, 2010


Also this "job killing" tax thing. It's so annoying, as if jobs were gifts bestowed on the lower classes by the rich and the corporate only if they can be bothered, if perhaps taxes aren't to high, you know.
posted by delmoi at 11:31 AM on January 26, 2010 [27 favorites]


It's charming that people think it makes a lick of difference whether they vote for this or not. Whether the votes say it passes or not, the people who compile the vote tallies will say that it failed.

And then they will stay up late planning the vacation that they will buy with their bribes.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:31 AM on January 26, 2010


Also, serious question here: don't the financial bureaucrats set tax rates in such a way as to balance the budget? Why ask the population to vote on this minutia? Do the elected politicians do absolutely nothing on the state level in the US? WTF is going on in Salem (and Sacramento)?
posted by GuyZero at 11:32 AM on January 26, 2010


Also, serious question here: don't the financial bureaucrats set tax rates in such a way as to balance the budget?

GuyZero: They did. Signatures were gathered in order to put a referendum on the legislature's decision on the ballot.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 11:34 AM on January 26, 2010


It's because you can't pass ANY sort of tax hike and expect to ever hold public office in this country again.
posted by graventy at 11:34 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


In a publisher's note that ran in Sunday morning's opinion section, Anderson wrote that the paper is "willing to make the front-page spadea available to advertisers on both sides of these ballot measures, subject to our final approval."

But could the Vote Yes people run a spadea that says "The Oregonian's editorial board urges you to Votes YES"? I'm guessing not. Endorsements are fine and ads are fine, but this seems to be an uncomfortable combination of the two.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:34 AM on January 26, 2010


And it won't be a sudden death, either.

A hundred years from now, President John Elias Masterson will be making short-wave radio broadcasts to the nation, telling everyone in earshot of a dusty community radio that there is nothing to be afraid of but Satan himself, that a new Emergency Loan Program has been instituted to cover today's budget, that victory on the Albertan Front is assured, and that several prophets and Biblical scholars have informed him, on good authority, that the Great Drought will be ending very soon.

And now a message from our sponsor.
posted by Avenger at 11:35 AM on January 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


I can't come up with the cohesive worldview that would motivate someone to vote suchly.

I can't come up with a cohesive worldview of someone that can read the stories that an election is being held and can drive on safe streets to vote but votes against tax increases for either group.
posted by DU at 11:36 AM on January 26, 2010


shakespeherian, I would probably vote no on 66 and yes on 67 if I were an Oregon resident. My worldview includes the opinion that people in the U.S. with a household taxable income of greater than $250,000 a year are already taxed at a high enough rate and should not be taxed more than they currently are (perhaps some people who make a lot more than that are not sufficiently taxed, though). My worldview also includes the opinion that a $150 minimum corporate tax is neither unreasonable nor oppressive.
posted by The World Famous at 11:36 AM on January 26, 2010


The Oregonian is owned by Advance Publications, an arm of the Newhouse media empire along with other appendages such as Condé Nast. As such it really shouldn't be considered local qua local.
posted by kipmanley at 11:39 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


My worldview includes the opinion that people in the U.S. with a household taxable income of greater than $250,000 a year are already taxed at a high enough rate and should not be taxed more than they currently are

I don't quite make that, and I am not taxed high enough. I mean, I'd rather not be taxed higher than I am, but I really think I ought to be.

However, I also think student loan payments should be tax-deductible in full, particularly for professional degrees. It seems a little perverse that the government is taxing my inflated lawyer salary and taxing what I'm retroactively paying for the intellectual assets that make that salary applicable. My law degree, just like an MD or an MBA, is a business expense. Convolutedly, though, because it's such a necessary business expense -- that is, because I can't work in my field without it in the first place, so it's a barrier to entry and not just to advancement -- it's not tax deductible.
posted by jock@law at 11:49 AM on January 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


I wasn't being sarcastic; I think that there will almost certainly be some people who do, simply because it seems mathematically impossible otherwise, but I can't come up with the cohesive worldview that would motivate someone to vote suchly.

I can see someone thinking "I kinda like this Idea but also I kind of don't. Alright, I'll just vote for one and against the other"
posted by delmoi at 11:54 AM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't quite make that, and I am not taxed high enough. I mean, I'd rather not be taxed higher than I am, but I really think I ought to be.

Given that people who make more than you are currently taxed at a significantly higher rate than you are, do you propose raising their taxes, as well, or do you just think that the taxes for people who make less than $250k a year should be increased?

And do you intentionally overpay your taxes?
posted by The World Famous at 11:56 AM on January 26, 2010


I wonder if anyone will vote No on 66 and Yes on 67.

Self-interested people who earn more than $125,000/$250,000, but don't own a company.
posted by qvantamon at 11:57 AM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


So basically the Oregonian got offered a ton of money for a spadea, then conveniently decided to take the position that the spadea advertised? Quid pro quo much?
posted by mullingitover at 12:01 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's worth noting that the thing that makes Measure 67 controversial is that taxes will now be calculated based off gross receipts (ie, all monies paid to a business) instead of profits. This means that a business's write-offs and deductions may not go as far as they did before, and they could end up paying considerably more than the new $150 minimum.
posted by JohnFredra at 12:01 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think that there will almost certainly be some people who do, simply because it seems mathematically impossible otherwise, but I can't come up with the cohesive worldview that would motivate someone to vote [no on 66 and yes on 67].

How about "I think individual income taxes are bad and corporate income taxes are reasonable?" You or I might not agree with that worldview, but is it so bizarre that it's really unfathomable to you?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:02 PM on January 26, 2010


You know, if I was an Orgeonite (Oregoner?) I'd vote YES for both those issues, but I also think that governments in general are too comfortable with adding more programs and spending more, resulting in short-fall in essential services.

Fund education, health, and infrastructure FIRST, then use any left-over funds on everything else. Then think about cutting taxes.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:03 PM on January 26, 2010


I don't quite make that, and I am not taxed high enough. I mean, I'd rather not be taxed higher than I am, but I really think I ought to be.

You're not thinking in relative terms or in terms of doing the least damage. Increasing taxes on the wealthy (read: people above $19M, and taxing _assets_ instead of income) would accomplish far more and do less destruction to the middle and upper middle classes. This is unpopular, though, even down to the rhetoric of people who argue that if you tax the truly wealthy, they'll just find other ways to cheat paying their taxes, so it wont accomplish anything.

The reasoning there always mystified me -- we can't tax the small %age of people who control 40% of the nations wealth because ... they'll cheat their way out of it? Insane reasoning.
posted by rr at 12:03 PM on January 26, 2010 [13 favorites]


So basically the Oregonian got offered a ton of money for a spadea, then conveniently decided to take the position that the spadea advertised?

The Oregonian editorial board has historically been very conservative toward public spending and very pro-business (and oh what fun it is when those two concepts collide). The oddly-convenient thing here is not their editorial position, it's their decision to run a politically editorial spadea.
posted by cortex at 12:05 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, if I was an Orgeonite (Oregoner?) I'd vote YES for both those issues, but I also think that governments in general are too comfortable with adding more programs and spending more, resulting in short-fall in essential services.

You missed the part about the kicker law, didn't you?
posted by Caduceus at 12:05 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oregon, while progressive on many fronts, has a really strange attitude towards taxation. It's something I could never figure out, growing up there. It's like, ha-ha, no money for public libraries because the sales tax is evil. Never understood it.
posted by angrycat at 12:11 PM on January 26, 2010


I'm an Oregonian who doesn't get the paper or watch TV (yeah, shoot me), and I've been puzzled how LITTLE attention this election is getting. Apparently that's where all the political ads are.

I bet an unintended consequence of the recent Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate political spending will be to speed up the death of old media. It's like dropping your land line and hey, no more junk phone calls!
posted by msalt at 12:14 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't quite make that, and I am not taxed high enough. I mean, I'd rather not be taxed higher than I am, but I really think I ought to be. However, I also think student loan payments should be tax-deductible in full, particularly for professional degrees.

And this is the basically why these tax questions are so difficult: I could pay more taxes, but I also deserve more tax cuts. The math says the libraries still close.
posted by three blind mice at 12:16 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I turned in my ballot last night.
posted by parhamr at 12:18 PM on January 26, 2010


My worldview includes the opinion that people in the U.S. with a household taxable income of greater than $[my current income] a year are already taxed at a high enough rate and should not be taxed more than they currently are (perhaps some people who make a lot more than that are not sufficiently taxed, though).
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:19 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


msalt - there has been an endless repetition of TV ads pro and con on this issue.
posted by Cranberry at 12:21 PM on January 26, 2010


Mental Wimp, your edit makes no sense.
posted by The World Famous at 12:26 PM on January 26, 2010


I want to live in that town where nobody pays taxes, but somehow there are schools and garbage collection and police and fire services and infrastructure maintenance/repair and code enforcement and courthouses and license bureaus and all the hundreds of other things we need to live in a city where it's not a libertarian paradise of he-who-has-the-largest-gun-wins.

i think it's somewhere inside someone's head, so I'm having trouble finding the door
posted by davejay at 12:27 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mental Wimp, your edit makes no sense.

Does to me; everyone who makes $x assumes that they will soon be making $x + $y, and therefore everyone making $x + $y (aka themselves, soon enough) shouldn't have to pay more taxes.
posted by davejay at 12:28 PM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I want to live in that town where nobody pays taxes, but somehow there are schools and garbage collection and police and fire services and infrastructure maintenance/repair and code enforcement and courthouses and license bureaus and all the hundreds of other things we need to live in a city where it's not a libertarian paradise of he-who-has-the-largest-gun-wins.

Hmm. So, you want to live in the exact opposite of Los Angeles?
posted by The World Famous at 12:28 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


there has been an endless repetition of TV ads pro and con on this issue.

Exactly, and it's going to get worse for everyone in the US next fall. I know a lot of people think it's pretentious or something not to watch TV. But I get gobs of news from NPR and the web, and any shows I like on DVD or Hulu or Youtube. I can't be the only who is happy about avoiding that onslaught, even if it means I'm a step slow on stuff like the Snuggie.
posted by msalt at 12:31 PM on January 26, 2010


At least they're somewhat clearly drafted, unlike that Prop 8 nonsense.

So...by voting for this I'm voting to not *not* raise taxes?
posted by electroboy at 12:31 PM on January 26, 2010


The reasoning there always mystified me -- we can't tax the small %age of people who control 40% of the nations wealth because ... they'll cheat their way out of it? Insane reasoning.

The general concern is that if you tax the "rich" (especially in a non-indexedway), then the truly rich will figure out a way of getting out of it, and eventually inflation will apply it to the middle-class, who isn't rich/well connected/"sophisticated" enough to get out of it. (See AMT.) 125k might seem like a lot now, but it won't in 20, or even 10, years.

Can someone summarize the percentages involved here? The NYT article says "State income taxes for wealthier Oregon residents are already among the highest of any state." Too high, and people making a certain amount (or corporations in the case of corporate taxes) will just leave.
posted by blenderfish at 12:31 PM on January 26, 2010


Oregon, while progressive on many fronts, has a really strange attitude towards taxation. It's something I could never figure out, growing up there. It's like, ha-ha, no money for public libraries because the sales tax is evil. Never understood it.

I've lived in Portland for 10 years, and I have long agreed with this assessment. It doesn't surprise me to see it outside of Portland because the rest of the state is much more conservative, but even in Portland I see this kind of behavior. We like our progressive image, but don't make us pay money!
posted by DrGirlfriend at 12:32 PM on January 26, 2010


>> We like our progressive image, but don't make us pay money!

You can make the argument that not having a sales tax is progressive. And it's not like like sales taxes will solve one's budget problems, as pretty much every other state in the union has demonstrated.
posted by JohnFredra at 12:40 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


The general concern is that if you tax the "rich" (especially in a non-indexedway), then the truly rich will figure out a way of getting out of it

This is true of all taxes. They raised cigarette taxes in Ontario so high that people started smuggling them in increasing quantities from Quebec and via reservations so they eventually cut the taxes and the smuggling dropped again. Obviously you can't tax people into oblivion but that doesn't mean that every tax increase will drive people out of the state.
posted by GuyZero at 12:40 PM on January 26, 2010


Actually, in Portland anyway, public libraries and park are very well funded. They just do a specific property tax levy for them. It's the statewide general fund that is underfunded.
posted by msalt at 12:42 PM on January 26, 2010


“Property taxes were historically low here in part because the counties received payments from the federal government for timber production on federal lands. Yet timber production has declined substantially, and subsequent federal subsidies have not compensated for the decline. That aid, too, is set to phase out.”
Government not tightening its belt along with everyone else – unfair.
Government handing money and cheap land to a select minority - basically ok.

“A hundred years from now, President John Elias Masterson will be making short-wave radio broadcasts to the nation, telling everyone in earshot of a dusty community radio that there is nothing to be afraid of but Satan himself,”

Don’t blame me. I voted for smilin’ Gary Callahan.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:48 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think this is a better depiction of where we are going.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:58 PM on January 26, 2010


So this proposition, it is something I should ensure my friends hailing from Oregon are voting... for? or against?

They are normal people who like social services... which side are they on?

Also; wasn't there a Colbert Platinum service announcement (I kept watching even though he told me I wasn't allowed.) which explained that the super wealthy no longer use wallets... rather just pools or other deep storage containers... but not wallets... the site and logo for the "vote no" group has a "shadow" hand pulling like "bills" out of a "wallet"... this seems unrealistic as a depiction of who will have increased taxes by this measure.
posted by infinite intimation at 12:59 PM on January 26, 2010


a libertarian paradise of he-who-has-the-largest-gun-wins.

People keep using the L word, but I don't think it means what they think it means.
posted by symbollocks at 1:17 PM on January 26, 2010


Also this "job killing" tax thing.

No more so than the "OMG, think of the childrenz"
ads the other side is running.

The most annoying part of this whole campaign has been the lack of anything approaching reasonable debate from either side of the issue.
posted by madajb at 1:20 PM on January 26, 2010


It's because you can't pass ANY sort of tax hike and expect to ever hold public office in this country again.

In Oregon, especially. The last 11 or so tax increase measures have failed, and usually by a substantial margin.
posted by madajb at 1:23 PM on January 26, 2010


Except you know what? Strong schools are not just "thinking about the children." They actually help the economy! For reals!
posted by msalt at 1:23 PM on January 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Except there's provable evidence that there's a negative outcome for kids, en masse, when you lay off teachers. Unemployment going up in lockstep with taxes? Not so much.
posted by GuyZero at 1:25 PM on January 26, 2010


I think that there will almost certainly be some people who do, simply because it seems mathematically impossible otherwise, but I can't come up with the cohesive worldview that would motivate someone to vote suchly.

Because, despite efforts by both the for and against teams to link them, they are distinctly different measures?

One could, for example, think that an $18 billion dollar company such as Nike could afford to pay more than a $10 corporate tax, and yet, at the same time, think that a 9% personal income tax rate is quite high enough.
posted by madajb at 1:29 PM on January 26, 2010


Whether the new taxes are good or not, this government by referendum is just disastrous nonsense. Oregon, look south towards Sacramento and you will see your future.

I mean, voting to raise taxes on the rich? You're just going to piss off the rich enough that they use the rest of their money to get a referendum on the ballot that says they get to keep the poor as housepets. And it'll probably pass, if the ads are good enough. It takes a real lack of forethought to not see any unexpected consequences from passing something like this.

One segment of society delivering a "fuck you" to another via referendum is not how democracy is supposed to work. Not representative democracy, anyway. If you think the people in the state capital or Washington are "clowns," wait until you see what your neighbor can be talked into voting for.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:35 PM on January 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Oregon, look south towards Sacramento and you will see your future.

Oregon's initiative process is certainly something that comes with its disadvantages, and my feelings about it are mixed despite my liking the core idea very much.

That said, CA is the newbie at this game, and their woes have more to do with some of the specific idiocies they've implemented in their initiative and legislative systems than with the initiative system itself.
posted by cortex at 1:39 PM on January 26, 2010


I really wish that people didn't think of government, tax-funded jobs as something wildly different from other sorts of jobs.

Yeah, sure, they're the same thing. One is funded via the iron fist of the IRS/state tax assessor, the other by providing goods and services purchased by willing customers in the open marketplace. Same thing.

Firing teachers in the middle of a recession rather than taxing businesses? That's some job-killing, there.

When one finds one's income (taxe revenues) dropping, cutting expenses is a natural first reaction. Now perhaps we should be cutting military spending long before public education. I can get behind that.

If the business sector is loathe to provide full employment (which it seems like they are), it's clearly right to tax them and use the proceeds to hire government workers.

Surely businesses, especially small businesses which provide over half of the private sector jobs, are just *swimming* in extra cash with the downturn in consumer spending, and are not creating new jobs simply because they like to laugh at the unemployed.

Slathering more taxes on them will surely change their puckish ways.

Or perhaps we can create a gob of new government jobs, and just pro-rate the steadily declining tax revenues among all of them. Hey, does that come out to more than minimum wage per new government job?
posted by de void at 1:41 PM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oregon, look south towards Sacramento and you will see your future.

Especially with respect to budgetary referendums. Eventually you end up with so many special earmarks and tax exemptions / restrictions that there's no way to make a sane budget. As anyone who has made a household budget knows, you can't set each budget category independently and just hope the total works out, you need to look at the whole thing. By voting on one piece at a time, the population never really knows the effect on the whole.

(this isn't to say that the reps themselves haven't contributed to california's woes, but at this point it would be hard for anyone to come up with a decent budget).

Lots of things I like about this state, but we need to reform the initiative and budget process badly. I don't recommend for other states to go down this path.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:45 PM on January 26, 2010




dragoon: A yes vote affirms the legislature's decision, while a no vote rejects it - it isn't quite "No Means Yes"
posted by OverlappingElvis at 1:54 PM on January 26, 2010


Can someone summarize the percentages involved here? The NYT article says "State income taxes for wealthier Oregon residents are already among the highest of any state."

Oregon income tax is 5% up to $3,050, 7% up to $7,600, and 9% over $7,600.
Measure 66 would add a 10.8% rate for $125,000-$250,000 and an 11% rate for $250,000+

The dollar amounts double for household filers. The new tax rates would then drop to 9.9% in 2012.
posted by madajb at 2:00 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I mean, voting to raise taxes on the rich? You're just going to piss off the rich enough that they use the rest of their money to get a referendum on the ballot that says they get to keep the poor as housepets. (...) One segment of society delivering a "fuck you" to another via referendum is not how democracy is supposed to work.

You do realize that that referendum is to decide whether to strike down two tax-hiking House Bills that had already been approved by regular legislative action, then signed by the governor, right? Regardless of whether it's right or wrong to do so, it's not the guys "voting to raise taxes on the rich" that are trying to bypass the legislative process by a referendum...
posted by qvantamon at 2:06 PM on January 26, 2010


Or, not the opposite of rejecting a refutation of what dragoon said.
posted by qvantamon at 2:09 PM on January 26, 2010


One of the mass mailings for the NO side were from a Tillamook dairy farmer named Carol Leuthold. I got one in the mail early on, and it was hand-signed.

The letters were hand-signed to look authentic, but all in different handwriting, and a closer look at this dairy's operations indicates that it would not be impacted very severely by a potential tax increase.
posted by Danf at 2:16 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wish everyone would just learn to grow the hell up and pay their fair share rather than assuming it's everyone else's problem. The most lasting and equitable solution is to tax consumption nation-wide. But good luck selling that to an electorate conditioned to think that all taxation is somehow inherently evil.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 2:19 PM on January 26, 2010


wish everyone would just learn to grow the hell up and pay their fair share rather than assuming it's everyone else's problem.

I don't think there are many people that would oppose paying their "fair" share of taxes. Rather, the problem lies in that a "fair share" is inherently a subjective phrase, and the arguments regarding taxes tends more to do with what constitutes a fair share, or, more narrowly, whether the highest tax brackets of our progressive taxation system are high enough to constitute a fair share.
posted by gyc at 2:38 PM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Exactly, gyc.
posted by The World Famous at 2:41 PM on January 26, 2010


Oregon, while progressive on many fronts, has a really strange attitude towards taxation. It's something I could never figure out, growing up there. It's like, ha-ha, no money for public libraries because the sales tax is evil. Never understood it.

I live in Portland, and I've got to say, I getting $4 exact change when I buy a $1 item at a store is probably worth a library to me. Especially since our libraries are somehow just fine. We make up for it elsewhere, I'm guessing.

I'd really like to see the whole tax system, especially the federal, hugely simplified. Get rid of deductions, period. Lower the rate a couple percentage points to make up for it. Stop subsidizing making kids and buying single family homes.

And tax gasoline ten times as much as we do now, put the money in transit.
posted by floam at 2:53 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


floam, if you eliminated deductions and lowered the rates across the board several percentage points (which is a great idea), there would be no revenue-based reason to tax gasoline at all.
posted by The World Famous at 3:06 PM on January 26, 2010


I don't need a good reason for that, The World Famous, I think I just want some artificial pressure to make people drive less and kill off the ex-urbs.

This is my fantasy, please remember.
posted by floam at 3:14 PM on January 26, 2010


You'll note that I said "no revenue-based reason."
posted by The World Famous at 3:16 PM on January 26, 2010


One segment of society delivering a "fuck you" to another via referendum

So the massive tax cuts to the wealthy are not considered a "fuck you" to the less well off, but raising those taxes back up a bit is considered a "fuck you" to the wealthy? WTF?
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:20 PM on January 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


The problem with eliminating deductions is that deductions are generally put in place for well-intentioned public policy reasons and there are many middle middle class people that take advantage of such deductions.

Of course, there are cases when deductions are put in place for more cynical reasons, such as paying off a political supporter or to garner votes from a specific group of voters, and some deductions are so broadly written that they are ripe targets for abuse by people and corporations with highly-paid tax attorneys, but there are a lot of middle class people that take advantage of tax deductions, such as deductions for educational loans or mortgages that it'd be pretty much politically untenable to roll back much of the deductions currently in place in our tax code.
posted by gyc at 3:26 PM on January 26, 2010


Firing teachers isn't a "fuck off" to children because heavens, who would speak like that to a child? Also, as long as motivated Chinese and Indian children continue to receive educations, no school-age residents of Oregon really need to know how to do math and other such mundane tasks.
posted by GuyZero at 3:28 PM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I live in Portland, and I've got to say, I getting $4 exact change when I buy a $1 item at a store is probably worth a library to me. Especially since our libraries are somehow just fine. We make up for it elsewhere, I'm guessing.

I also rather like having the price on the label be the price you pay.

Though, given my spending habits, I'd probably be better off in a state with a sales tax, but no income tax. I have not, however, actually done the math on that.
posted by madajb at 3:53 PM on January 26, 2010


me: I really wish that people didn't think of government, tax-funded jobs as something wildly different from other sorts of jobs.

de void: Yeah, sure, they're the same thing. One is funded via the iron fist of the IRS/state tax assessor, the other by providing goods and services purchased by willing customers in the open marketplace. Same thing.

me: Firing teachers in the middle of a recession rather than taxing businesses? That's some job-killing, there.

de void: When one finds one's income (taxe revenues) dropping, cutting expenses is a natural first reaction. Now perhaps we should be cutting military spending long before public education. I can get behind that.


re: point 1: Apparently you're one of the people who has shortened "taxation without representation is tyranny" to "taxation is tyranny." One way to tell these two maxims apart is to note that the former is a sound principle underlying the concept of modern representative democracy, while the latter is seductive, yet completely retarded.

re: point 2: Keynesian economics: It works. Treating the economy of a government like the economy of a household is, like your maxim from point one, seductive, but completely retarded. If I had any say in anything at all, I'd love to transfer military spending to useful domestic spending, but right now, when the private sector has decided that it's best to indefinitely idle a significant fraction of the American population, is exactly not the right time for the government to join in on the idlin' game in any arena whatsoever.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:54 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dragoon, I can't speak specifically for the US, but globally in general and here in Australia, the result of referendums is overwhelmingly that the "no's" have it. Since federation in 1901, Australia has said yes to exactly two referendums; one was to federate, the other to include aboriginals in the constitution (kind of, generalising here). That was in 1967, the last time a referendum got passed in Australia.

So, from a political standpoint, if you're going into a referendum, you want to make damn sure the option you support is linked to the "no" box.
posted by smoke at 3:57 PM on January 26, 2010


Firing teachers isn't a "fuck off" to children because heavens, who would speak like that to a child? Also, as long as motivated Chinese and Indian children continue to receive educations, no school-age residents of Oregon really need to know how to do math and other such mundane tasks.

In the last budget year, education comprised roughly 50% of general fund spending in Oregon.
The idea that we spend no money on education is laughable.

Whether or not we spend that money wisely, well, that's something else entirely.
posted by madajb at 3:59 PM on January 26, 2010


The problem with eliminating deductions is that deductions are generally put in place for well-intentioned public policy reasons and there are many middle middle class people that take advantage of such deductions.

Actually, I'm thinking a lot about middle class people when I think of deductions going away. I'm kind of an asshole clearly, but I don't think helping middle class people with people tax breaks for buying a house, or the interest on their mortgage is a good idea. A lot of people that should be renting an apartment but decide to go buy a ticky-tacky house out in the middle of nowhere (which I think is a Bad Thing), and I think part of that is going to be simple economics with people responding to incentives.
posted by floam at 4:05 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the last budget year, education comprised roughly 50% of general fund spending in Oregon.
The idea that we spend no money on education is laughable.


That is because Measure 5 took funding out of the hands of individual communities and put it largely in the state budget. Before that, individual school districts sunk or swam based on the taxes they levied, and the willingness of local people to bear that tax.

The motivation for that, on the part of the Measure 5 proponents (read; the accused felon Bill Sizemore) was to hurt school funding statewide.
posted by Danf at 4:06 PM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Blah, typos.
posted by floam at 4:08 PM on January 26, 2010


To add to the above tax rates provided by madajb (thanks btw) we don't have sales tax here in Oregon. I like that a lot, to the point I don't really mind my state income tax rate at 9%. I know I *feel* much less taxed here than I did in Arizona (about a 9% sales tax and 6% income tax) here and in most people consider Arizona a much lower tax state. Actually I would say this state (oregon) is much better run and has far superior services to Arizona.
posted by bartonlong at 4:09 PM on January 26, 2010


So, from a political standpoint, if you're going into a referendum, you want to make damn sure the option you support is linked to the "no" box.

I thought this was interesting, so I went and did a little looking.
Out of the 83 ballot measures* listed on ballotpedia for Oregon in the last decade:
33 Yes, 50 No
So, roughly 40% Yes and 60% No.

* Assuming I counted correctly.
posted by madajb at 4:10 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


The World Famous: “floam, if you eliminated deductions and lowered the rates across the board several percentage points (which is a great idea), there would be no revenue-based reason to tax gasoline at all.

I assumed he meant eliminate deductions and then lower the percentage rates in a way that would be revenue-neutral. (Although I'm not sure if it would be a "few percentage points" or if it would be more than that; it would depend on what the total of all deductions are.)

Of all the taxes levied by the federal and state government, the gasoline tax is probably the one I think is least evil. The best taxes are the ones which tax something in order to make up for a negative exterality imposed on the public by the use of that 'something.'

So, gasoline and diesel motor fuels ought to be taxed enough to cover the entirety of the Interstate Highway System, plus whatever costs we can reliably attribute to automobile-induced CO2 emissions and climate change, at the Federal level. Additional state-level taxes should cover state transportation infrastructure. Balance the gas/diesel taxes based on the damage done by trucks (or better yet, just tax trucks directly for the damage they do to the roads, which is almost all of the actual wear).

People who don't drive shouldn't end up saddled for taxes for things they don't ever use — and their indirect use of that infrastructure should be built into the cost of goods (i.e. stuff that was hauled 3,000 miles should reasonably be expected to cost more than something local).

The worst thing about our current tax system is the way it hides costs and allows massive negative externalities to go unnoticed by consumers, because the cost is borne by everyone, regardless of how virtuously they choose to live. We shouldn't be surprise when we have perverse outcomes, when the incentives are set up that way.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:14 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Portland libraries may be doing fine, but last time I checked (couple years ago) public libraries in Southern Oregon had been closed down. It's a crying shame. Especially in Ashland, my home town, home to the world class Oregon Shakespearean Festival, but no, no library.
posted by angrycat at 4:20 PM on January 26, 2010


$125k is rich now? What is this, the 19th century?
posted by planet at 4:27 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Median household income in Oregon, 2007: $48,735. Over $125K is probably a standard deviation or two above that. I dunno if they publish the std deviations for census income data or not so that's just a guess.
posted by GuyZero at 4:32 PM on January 26, 2010


Sure, but that's not "rich". That's just a wage slave who has done a little better than the average wage slave. This isn't about taxing people who won't feel it -- it's about tax people who have a slightly nicer car and house.
posted by planet at 4:38 PM on January 26, 2010


$120,000/year is $10,000 a month in income. I don't know what kind of golden city upon a hill you live in, but in my world, $10,000 a month is a fucking shitload of cash.
posted by Avenger at 4:44 PM on January 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


That is because Measure 5 took funding out of the hands of individual communities and put it largely in the state budget. Before that, individual school districts sunk or swam based on the taxes they levied, and the willingness of local people to bear that tax..

Well, Measure 5 is its own level of silliness, but Oregon also spends roughly 40% of property tax receipts on education.
posted by madajb at 4:46 PM on January 26, 2010


That's just a wage slave who has done a little better than the average wage slave.

Depending on who you believe, measure 66 will affect around 2 to 3% of all Oregon taxpayers.
These are people who, by Oregon standards, are doing quite well.

Debating whether or not they are "the rich" is exactly what the campaigners for both sides would like you to do rather than focusing on if there measures are good for the State.
posted by madajb at 4:50 PM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


$120,000/year is $10,000 a month in income. I don't know what kind of golden city upon a hill you live in, but in my world, $10,000 a month is a fucking shitload of cash.

You forgot the taxes.

And in my world, which is the golden city on a hill called Los Angeles, it's a decent living but nothing to get all excited about.
posted by The World Famous at 4:51 PM on January 26, 2010


$120,000/year is $10,000 a month in income. I don't know what kind of golden city upon a hill you live in, but in my world, $10,000 a month is a fucking shitload of cash.
Well, it's not really $10k/month of cash, but putting that aside, maybe you're just poor? People making $125k are just schmucks paying their mortgage, putting their kids through college, and nervously eyeing their retirement accounts (or student loan balance). That doesn't sound rich to me. We did used to have this "middle class" that was neither poor nor rich.
posted by planet at 4:52 PM on January 26, 2010


maybe you're just poor?

Are you talking to me or the 250 million people behind me?
posted by Avenger at 5:01 PM on January 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


It's quite possible you're all poor! No sense in taking out negative feelings you have about that, if any, on the guy doing just a little bit better than you, though. It's not his fault.
posted by planet at 5:04 PM on January 26, 2010


Well, it's not really $10k/month of cash, but putting that aside, maybe you're just poor? People making $125k are just schmucks paying their mortgage, putting their kids through college, and nervously eyeing their retirement accounts (or student loan balance). That doesn't sound rich to me. We did used to have this "middle class" that was neither poor nor rich.

It's not rich, but in Portland it's enough to live in a nice house in the NW quadrant or SE I'm guessing. Or, quite possibly, an entire block in St. Helens (a bit of hyperbole, yes, but not by much). It's relative, you see. It's not Los Angeles, San Francisco, or any of the more expensive places in the west.

No sense in taking out negative feelings you have about that, if any, on the guy doing just a little bit better than you, though.

It's not a little bit better, it's a whole lot better than most, especially with 11% unemployment. And what's wrong with people who pay to have their lawns manicured on a weekly basis in the summer paying a bit more in taxes (yes, more hyperbole, but not much when you go through nicer neighborhoods in the summer).

And The Oregonian has been a stalwart of conservatism in the city of Portland since it's inception, as cortex pointed out above, striking out against labor unions and the Wobblies early on as well as muck raking campaigns against anything slightly liberal for years.

Finally, thanks for reminding me to drop off my ballot, metafilter!
posted by sleepy pete at 5:19 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


And what's wrong with people who pay to have their lawns manicured on a weekly basis in the summer paying a bit more in taxes

Well, there's the fact that it jeopardizes the employment of the people who are manicuring the lawns.
posted by The World Famous at 5:35 PM on January 26, 2010


And what's wrong with people who pay to have their lawns manicured on a weekly basis in the summer paying a bit more in taxes

I generally support progressive taxation, but the reality is, they're already paying a lot more than "a bit more" in taxes. Someone in, say, the 75th percentile, which despite comments above about things being a "shitload of cash" [presumably the poster is twenty], is not wealthy already pays many, many, many times the taxes that someone making the per-capita median is paying.
posted by rr at 5:45 PM on January 26, 2010


Someone in, say, the 75th percentile...already pays many, many, many times the taxes that someone making the per-capita median is paying.

Proportional to their gross income? No. They pay somewhat more per dollar earned in taxes because of the higher tax rate. The only way someone is paying many, many, many times the taxes as a median taxpayer is if they're making many, many, many times the yearly income of that median taxpayer, at which point we're talking about something wel past the 75th percentile.

which despite comments above about things being a "shitload of cash" [presumably the poster is twenty], is not wealthy

You may be surprised, I guess, that there a lot of folks far older than twenty who consider $125K a year to be a shitload of cash. It's a shitload of cash. Arguments about what "wealthy" means are notoriously sticky and I'm not going to try and put a mark on it, but relative to a median wage-earner in Oregon that is a big stack of cash, even after taxes.
posted by cortex at 5:54 PM on January 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


The rich have broken my heart with their tales of suffering. The vacation home, the Escalade and the $100K wedding for their daughter are in danger!
posted by maxwelton at 6:10 PM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, it's not really $10k/month of cash, but putting that aside, maybe you're just poor? People making $125k are just schmucks paying their mortgage, putting their kids through college, and nervously eyeing their retirement accounts (or student loan balance). That doesn't sound rich to me. We did used to have this "middle class" that was neither poor nor rich.

This reminds me of an interview done by Studs Terkel in which the woman says something like "In the Depression, we didn't think we were poor, because the whole neighborhood was in the same boat". Now we have TV and the Internet and glossy magazines to tell us that, somehow, $125K isn't a lot of money. This "middle class" that you speak of, the one we used to have, shared bedrooms between siblings, shared a single family car, and went on one driving vacation a year.

/derail and oversimplification
posted by lillygog at 6:13 PM on January 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


$125k per year IS a shitload of cash. Sorry.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:22 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Proportional to their gross income? No. They pay somewhat more per dollar earned in taxes because of the higher tax rate.

Gross income-wise, the lower 20% of Oregonians pay about 8.7% while the top 1% pays about 6.2%.
I've haven't found any numbers for the percentage those over $125,000 already pay.
posted by madajb at 6:47 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone in, say, the 75th percentile, which despite comments above about things being a "shitload of cash" [presumably the poster is twenty]

I like the sheer twit privilege of someone who apparently thinks $40k salaries are what you can expect of 20-year-olds. Cry all you want, nobody cares but your lawyer buddies.
posted by furiousthought at 6:47 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Proportional to their gross income? No. They pay somewhat more per dollar earned in taxes because of the higher tax rate. The only way someone is paying many, many, many times the taxes as a median taxpayer is if they're making many, many, many times the yearly income of that median taxpayer, at which point we're talking about something wel past the 75th percentile.

In absolute terms, yes. Are they entitled to proportionally more services? Are they given proportionally more votes? No?

Proportionality is used to justify all sorts of things, but tax levies in this country are simultaneously:

1. regressive (for fees)

2. insufficiently progressive (for ___wealth___)
posted by rr at 6:51 PM on January 26, 2010



I like the sheer twit privilege of someone who apparently thinks $40k salaries are what you can expect of 20-year-olds. Cry all you want, nobody cares but your lawyer buddies.


College graduate new hires with degrees in any technical field make more than $40k.
posted by rr at 6:52 PM on January 26, 2010


$125k per year IS a shitload of cash. Sorry.

In my world someone with "a shitload of cash" can afford to buy a house.
posted by rr at 6:53 PM on January 26, 2010


In my world someone with "a shitload of cash" can afford to buy a house

In Oregon, which is the State where the Measure is being considered, $125,000 a year is perfectly sufficient to purchase a house.
posted by madajb at 6:58 PM on January 26, 2010


Yes, and this is why the claims of XXX being "a shitload" need to take geography into account. In the bay area, $125k will perhaps get you a house in an area where you'd better be willing to foot for private school (and a 40+ minute commute).
posted by rr at 7:18 PM on January 26, 2010


Well, I live north of Seattle, in a market where the cost of living is higher than it is in Portland (and therefore higher than anywhere in Oregon). I'm 34, I own a house and have a child, and we don't make anything like $125K. As it is, we drive a decent if ten year old car, eat out frequently, and carry no debt. So, yeah, I'll say that in the PNW, $125K a year for a single earner is a shitload of cash.
posted by KathrynT at 7:46 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]




It's Called!!!!
posted by Danf at 8:24 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


College graduate new hires with degrees in any technical field make more than $40k.

What? My college graduate boyfriend, with a newly-minted degree in Electrical Engineering, took 10 months to find a job (in a city with a lot of tech companies, actually). The job he finally found was as a government clerk. Making about $22k, and using the sort of knowledge and skills that he had acquired by 7th grade. And he is LUCKY to have any kind of job at all, much less a safe one with good benefits, with (small) opportunity for advancement, once the hiring freeze eases. It is brutal out there.

It's a recession. $125k is a HUGE amount of money. If you can't live within your means on $125k/year, I have no pity for you. The sense of entitlement some people have is just galling.

I make about $24k. I guess the people somehow scraping by on $8k/year part-time Wal-mart salary, with food stamps and food bank and section 8 housing, think I am an asshole too.
posted by marble at 8:32 PM on January 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


In absolute terms, yes.

Yes. In absolute terms, the terms by which these numbers actually mean something in how they impact individual earners' quality of life, folks who make more money have a general capacity for higher quality of life regardless of whether they pay marginally more tax per dollar earned. And when you subtract the cost of basic living needs like shelter, food, transportation, etc from those disparate figures, the difference becomes starker yet.

Are they entitled to proportionally more services?

Entitled, no. Capable of securing, absolutely. There is no general situation where having a significantly larger net income doesn't tend to lead directly to having better access to more, higher quality services.

Are they given proportionally more votes? No?

Why on earth would they be? Why would they expect to be? We can have a conversation about how relative wealth might lead to greater capacity for political influence beyond merely dropping one's ballot in the slot, but I don't think most folks would expect that conversation to involve the idea of awarding extra votes to individuals as a reward for paying marginally higher taxes on their significantly larger incomes.

Yes, and this is why the claims of XXX being "a shitload" need to take geography into account.

There are small areas of this country—minuscule areas, geographically, but obviously population density is far from evenly distributed, so just small in terms of total population—where you can manage to feel disenfranchised with a $125K/year income. No one is required to live in those places. Portland, weird big-little middle child of American cities that it is, is not exactly cheap these days, but you can still buy a lot of house with less money than that.
posted by cortex at 8:55 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


And this is a statewide measure. Portland is to the rest of Oregon as San Francisco (proper) and Manhattan are to Portland; all of us make far more than the vast majority in a town like Prineville or Albany.
posted by msalt at 9:29 PM on January 26, 2010


Also, the last time I got data that had both average per capita income and the average income for a single earner head-of-household (Ontario I think) it was something like $35K for average, $72K for head of a house of 4. If you're supporting a family then, statistically, you're in a whole other bracket.

$125K is probably a good income for someone in Portland, but if it's a single-earner family of four you're not living particularly high on the hog and you probably feel like you could certainly use a few extra dollars.

Unfortunately you'll feel like that pretty much until your income hits a million annually and no one wants to fire teachers, so you probably suck it up.
posted by GuyZero at 9:34 PM on January 26, 2010


I was going to try to find numbers on the average income in the city of Portland versus sadtowns out in eastern Oregon, but I decided not to, because I'm going to feel icky when I find out me, a $20k/yr-earning broker-than-broke student living in downtown Portland, am actually making less than my whateverthefucktheydo-maybe-farming? contemporaries out in the middle of nowhere.

Anyways, I'd just like to say, $125k is a shitload of money, although I do happen to be only two years over twenty. OTOH, I probably shouldn't say a word about taxes since I'm actually getting more than I'm paying (and there's no witheld stuff, I'm self-employed, not an employee) in taxes this year thanks to Mister Obama. Anyways, if I feel I could pay more at $20K you fuckers at $125k sure as fuck can. And I'm not even taking advantage of social services (yet.)

I promise as soon as I get a real job earning real money I'll flip though. It's going to be so fucking awesome not thinking a shitload of money is a shitload of money.
posted by floam at 10:06 PM on January 26, 2010


$125K is probably a good income for someone in Portland, but if it's a single-earner family of four

I think that for joint filers they get until $250k before the rate increases.
posted by floam at 10:15 PM on January 26, 2010


People making $125k are just schmucks paying their mortgage, putting their kids through college, and nervously eyeing their retirement accounts (or student loan balance).

They can afford to put money towards mortgage/rent, kids' (mulitple!) college funds, and retirement?! That's absolutely rich by any realistic standard.

We haven't even gotten to healthcare costs...

If a six-figure income is mere "middle class", then the middle class is completely out of reach to nearly all Americans.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:42 PM on January 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Update: They passed. Whee!...?

The last 11 or so tax increase measures have failed, and usually by a substantial margin.

In yr face history!
posted by MeatLightning at 10:44 PM on January 26, 2010


all of us make far more than the vast majority in a town like Prineville or Albany.

Not really.
posted by madajb at 10:50 PM on January 26, 2010


In yr face history!
Heh.

I can't say I'm particularly happy about this. Looks like we're in for another round of living beyond our means.

On the plus side, the editorial pages will be full of vim and vigor for the next week, so that's always fun.
posted by madajb at 10:55 PM on January 26, 2010


They can afford to put money towards mortgage/rent, kids' (mulitple!) college funds, and retirement?!

Which of these things is a luxury, btw, six-figure earners?

Again, not even counting healthcare
posted by dirigibleman at 10:55 PM on January 26, 2010


i have never made more than 26k a year. if i made nearly 5 times that in a year? holy shit! i can't even imagine...i'd get a new bike, a new turntable, a new pair of shorts, more tattoos, maybe a new ball cap, and a gallon of honey at the farmer's market. i'd be so set.
posted by rainperimeter at 2:05 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm really happy these have passed. Ecstatic, even.

And I would also like to say that as someone who is closer to 40, 125K/year is not only a shitload of cash, it's a goddamn assload leading to fertilizing entire community gardens throughout the city amount of cash. Of course, I don't have kids, a mortgage, or the need to buy a lot of stuff, and have paid for college on my own... still paying it off, actually. Like I said earlier, it's all relative to the geographical area you're a part of and since I'm a part of Portland, you could buy a really nice house and pay immigrants to manicure your lawn and still pay more taxes on 125K a year. It's getting more expensive, but it's still one of the cheapest cities to live in on the west coast.
posted by sleepy pete at 2:15 AM on January 27, 2010


As a software engineer in a middle sized city, I'll probably never make $125K/year (in today's dollars) unless I start my own company or go into management. On the other hand, I'm very comfortable, can pay my mortgage save for retirement and afford a reasonable amount of charity. Considering that $125K puts you in the top ten percent of income in the US, I don't think that a tax on incomes that high is unreasonable.
posted by octothorpe at 7:04 AM on January 27, 2010


$125k doesn't feel like a lot of money to some people because once they have that much money, their expectations change (in terms of what neighborhood they want to live in, the size of their homes, whether they brown bag their lunch, and how much they put away for retirement for example) in such a way that they end up spending it faster. As GuyZero said, you're always going to feel that way until your income hits $1 million/yr or until your house is paid off and your kids have moved out.

For someone earning $150,000/yr, this tax increase amounts to an extra $450/yr (1.8% of the $25,000 in marginal income above $125,000). That money can be saved getting a mortgage on a house that's $8,000 less than you originally wanted or by going out to dinner one less time per month or by canceling HBO and Showtime.

Still, though, 9% taxes on incomes over $15,200 in Oregon is really, really high, compared to other states. Even in DC, the 9.75% marginal rate doesn't kick in until you hit $30,000 in taxable income. On the other hand, the money you save on rent by living in Portland rather than, say, Boston or DC, probably makes up for the difference. It's not that the rise in income taxes in Oregon is substantial, it's that income taxes in Oregon are already pretty high to begin with. On the other hand, as people pointed out, there are no sales taxes.

Personally, though, as a voter, I have no idea what tax levels should be. I really don't. I have a vague idea, but not being acquainted with the details of the state budget and revenue projections, I'm in no position to vote on these things, which is why these initiatives are inherently stupid. It's all about legislators trying to duck responsibility for their votes by passing the buck to the voters, who get the advantage of the secret ballot.
posted by deanc at 7:06 AM on January 27, 2010


First off... 125K a year is a shit load of money. I know people that live off a lot less.

Secondly, (me/ hides behind a shield), these tax increases are terrible. I know the rich have all this money but seriously taxing them more than anyone else should not be the answer. How about we hold the state budget committee responsible for the short falls. Or all these tax breaks and loop holes that the rich use. Get rid of them and make everyone pay the amount that they have to pay. No more/no less.

I don't want someone to be punished because they are more successful than me. All I want to see is them pay the same percentage as I pay in taxes.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:29 AM on January 27, 2010


Does someone making more than $125k use proportionally more or less public services?
posted by blue_beetle at 7:41 AM on January 27, 2010


I don't want someone to be punished because they are more successful than me. All I want to see is them pay the same percentage as I pay in taxes.

"Punishing the successful" as you put it, is what a progressive income tax is and has been accepted taxing policy for a hundred years. Flat taxes punish the poorer since they have a much smaller percentage of their income to spare.
posted by octothorpe at 8:20 AM on January 27, 2010


For the people bitching about earning $125k a year in San Fran, LA, San Diego, New York, etc and still not being able to get ahead congratulations you are realizing an opportunity cost for your decision to live in a desirable market with admittedly overpriced housing options.

Now granted those markets are also the good markets for finding the $125k jobs but if you really want a 2500-5000 square foot house you can always take a paycut to say something like $80k and move to any number of urban areas that you can get that sort of house for 250-500k.

Currently you are paying a massive premium in cost-of-living to live in close proximity to the ocean, beautiful sunsets, pretty people, etc.

There are obviously some fields where there is a critical mass of professionals in specific geographic location that enable really high salaries. San Fran / Silicon Valley is one of those locations but realistically there is absolutely no reason why a tech company like Google or Intel can't relocate their primary operations to some city in the center of the country. They'd probably have to pay a small price premium to lure talented scientists and engineers for living in Nebraska but they wouldn't have to pay a massive cost-of-living premium either. Furthermore those scientists and engineers could actually buy 5000 square foot single family detached housing in good subdivisions 15 minutes from work.

Why don't they do this? Well in some cases it's because early employees in large tech companies are so phenomenally wealthy from stock options that they can live wherever they want and many would choose to leave the company and continue to live in the Bay Area but another core reason is that areas like the Bay/Silicon Valley have massive amounts of highly skilled labor.

And now we get into the real reason why slashing state budgets is so detrimental to the long-term outlook of states like California. A huge reason why their is so many tech companies in the Bay Area is that there have historically been a ton of good schools and universities churning out a skilled workforce into the local market. Cutting government spending through tax cuts inevitably leads to cuts to education (both K-12 and Higher Ed) and reductions in education spending arguably lead to crappier schools / less innovation. So in a sense it's an investment in your own economic well being to pay taxes to support institutions like schools, parks and libraries as those institutions provide positive externalities that increase your standard of living and at least indirectly you higher than average base salary.
posted by vuron at 8:29 AM on January 27, 2010


It's all about legislators trying to duck responsibility for their votes by passing the buck to the voters, who get the advantage of the secret ballot.

To be fair, in this particular instance, the Legislature _did_ vote for these tax increases. It's just that the signature gatherers were out in force the very next day.
posted by madajb at 8:56 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's all about legislators trying to duck responsibility for their votes by passing the buck to the voters, who get the advantage of the secret ballot.

No. It's not. It's about out of state corporations funneling money into a signature-gathering campaign to put the increases, voted on by the legislature and signed into law by the governor, on the ballot. The legislature took responsibility for this, and special interests disagreed with their decision.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 8:57 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


there is absolutely no reason why a tech company like Google or Intel can't relocate their primary operations to some city in the center of the country

Actually, if you think you can prove that then congratulations, you just got yourself an economics or management science PhD. There are a lot of reasons they can't move.
posted by GuyZero at 8:58 AM on January 27, 2010


No. It's not. It's about out of state corporations funneling money into a signature-gathering campaign to put the increases, voted on by the legislature and signed into law by the governor, on the ballot. The legislature took responsibility for this, and special interests disagreed with their decision.

Ah. Sorry, I was wrong about this regarding the legislature's motivation (who weren't involved with that referendum mess). But I don't think that these sorts of questions should be put up for public ratification. If their policies annoy you so much, vote them out of office. Even if I think I'm qualified to legislate on budget issues, I know that my neighbors aren't.
posted by deanc at 9:06 AM on January 27, 2010


I respectfully submit that the answer to the question "how high should taxes be" is not "as much as a person can afford to pay."

When the question is whether people above a certain income threshhold should be taxed at a higher rate than they currently are, the answer is most assuredly not "well, if they can afford it, then yes."

And to the person above who suggested that higher taxes on certain people are appropriate since they can be afforded simply by cancelling HBO and Showtime, I respectfully submit to you that I bet you don't truly advocate a tax policy whereby the government takes every dime that anyone makes above that which would be required in order to pay for basic cable.

I have, until fairly recently, believed that Republicans created the myth of the group of people who think that the government should take every dime that a person earns above some set cost of living marker. I now know that it's not a myth.
posted by The World Famous at 9:14 AM on January 27, 2010


Cutting government spending through tax cuts inevitably leads to cuts to education (both K-12 and Higher Ed) and reductions in education spending arguably lead to crappier schools / less innovation.

This is the unfortunate thing about the campaign to pass these Measures.
The proponents focused solely on the "rich" and, much like this thread, the conversation became largely about whether $125,000/$250,000 counts as wealthy, rather than on if these Measures are really the best way to serve the goals of the State.

Not many people would dispute that Oregon schools are in poor shape. The second or third shortest school year, some of the largest classroom sizes, middle of the road test scores. This despite not really spending that much less per student.
The question should be why is Oregon, apparently, so much less efficient in spending than other states.

Similarly, in total tax load, Oregon generally comes out middle of the pack. So why is it the State can't manage to keep Troopers on the road 24 hours a day or fulfill other fairly basic governmental functions?

Not shaving any more school days from the calendar is probably a good thing, but without a real examination of the State's financial house, these Measures are just tossing more money at the problem.
posted by madajb at 9:16 AM on January 27, 2010


Tech Companies aren't immobile, they do have sunken costs and a need for skilled labor but capital is relatively mobile these days.

If Texas Instruments or Dell can function effectively in Dallas or Austin, I don't really see any reason why a Tech company like Intel can't pull a Exxon and move from Palo Alto to Las Colinas.

FIRE (Finance Insurance Real Estate) doesn't have to be in Manhattan but there are advantages to staying there. Currently those advantages outweigh the costs of operations but that's not a given thing.

Tech Companies don't have to be in the Bay Area but there are advantages to staying there. Currently it seems like those advantages outweigh the costs of operations but if California either increases the costs of doing business there too much or cannibalizes it's workforce too much then it makes good business sense to move.

Hell most states/localities would give their first born in the form of tax cuts and tax increment financing to poach a major company like HP or Intel or Google out of California. Eventually a CEO will look at the numbers and it will make sense to move.

By a similar token it seems likely that LA will lose creative jobs in the music industry and hollywood as media companies realize that they can get a comparable product elsewhere for cheaper rates.
posted by vuron at 9:20 AM on January 27, 2010


Not shaving any more school days from the calendar is probably a good thing, but without a real examination of the State's financial house, these Measures are just tossing more money at the problem.

One of the things about a willingness and ability to raise taxes is that when you have to raise taxes, it forces you to take a close look at whether you really need to do that spending, since taxation is so unpopular. If you refuse to raise taxes under any circumstances, then you just spend where you can until the system collapses (eg, California).

Based on what I've heard, Oregon has consistently rejected tax increases when they come up for public vote. So i assume that the state really needed the money now, and all attempts at cutting services to get revenue by other means has been exhausted.

When the question is whether people above a certain income threshhold should be taxed at a higher rate than they currently are, the answer is most assuredly not "well, if they can afford it, then yes."

TWF, the fact is that people have objected to certain tax increases by claiming that they can't afford them. Unless you think that this is an argument simply being used as "bait" rather than a misunderstanding about the way marginal taxation and marginal utility of income works, then it is perfectly reasonable to reply with arguments that these taxes are affordable. Especially when your taxes on purchases are tax-free. When it comes to running a first-world economy, the money has to come from somewhere.
posted by deanc at 9:24 AM on January 27, 2010


When it comes to running a first-world economy, the money has to come from somewhere.

Agreed.
posted by The World Famous at 9:32 AM on January 27, 2010


Based on what I've heard, Oregon has consistently rejected tax increases when they come up for public vote. So i assume that the state really needed the money now, and all attempts at cutting services to get revenue by other means has been exhausted.

It is true that tax increases have a poor success rate in Oregon.
On the other hand, like a lot of states, Oregon has consistently raised spending. In this state, more than in any other I've lived in, there is a fundamental disconnect between what the politicians want to provide and what the taxpayers are willing to pay for.
posted by madajb at 9:51 AM on January 27, 2010


Are they entitled to proportionally more services? Are they given proportionally more votes? No?

No on the votes but yes on the services. Wealth means you invest in businesses that drive on the roads and make us of taxpayer funded resources. Don't confuse what an individual consumes obviously with what they actually consume via their wealth.
posted by srboisvert at 9:56 AM on January 27, 2010


Well, it's not just a spend-tax disconnect. When unemployment rises, guess what? State revenues drop. Spending doesn't or it possibly increases if a lot of new people qualify for unemployment benefits. So rates have to rise or the state has to take on debt. Most states don't quite understand how to manage the boom side of Keynesian economics though.
posted by GuyZero at 9:56 AM on January 27, 2010


like a lot of states, Oregon has consistently raised spending. In this state, more than in any other I've lived in, there is a fundamental disconnect between what the politicians want to provide and what the taxpayers are willing to pay for.

I actually decided to look into this and discovered the following: between 2002 and 2006, Oregon went from 35th to 18th in per capita spending on state and local government. I assume they decided to keep spending until they couldn't spend any more, but that they're also happy with the level of government services they have, so they approved the tax increase. I mean, what changed that they shot up so high in the rankings?
posted by deanc at 10:05 AM on January 27, 2010


Well part of the reason could be that they were holding level while other areas of the country were reducing per capita spending (cutting taxes spurs growth don't ya know). Other reasons could be the result of an influx in new residents and the necessary expenditure needed to support them.

It's really not unusual for a new resident to require more services than their increase to the tax base. New residents often require new schools, new roads, new sewers, new water mains, more sanitation, etc. It's part of the reason why many localities seem to active discourage development of multifamily apartment units, the increase in demand for services is higher than the expected increase taxes (property, sales, or income).

I also wonder if Oregon's lack of a sales tax and focus on an income tax is resulting in Oregon residents footing the bill in part for services that are enjoyed by people in neighboring states.

For I have some relatives who live in Portland (Lake Oswego to be precise) and some relatives that live across the river in Washington (Camas to be precise). It seems that my relatives in Camas are taking advantage of the fact they don't need to pay any income taxes but they can go across the river to enjoy public goods in Portland. As such it seems that my relatives in Portland are providing a tax subsidy in effect to my relatives in Camas. Further since there is no sales tax Oregon is unable to capture any revenue from the mooches across the river.
posted by vuron at 10:26 AM on January 27, 2010


Yes, everybody loves the "we have no taxes on X" setup but ultimately it reduces the diversity of the state's tax base rendering them more susceptible to swings in their few sources of tax revenue. Very few states are Alberta where they can effectively put an excise tax on stuff they dig out of the ground and remove sales and incomes taxes.
posted by GuyZero at 10:36 AM on January 27, 2010


I mean, what changed that they shot up so high in the rankings?
State employee costs have risen rather rapidly in the past several years.
This is partly due to salary increases, but probably in large part due to health care costs as the Oregon public benefit package is one of the most generous in the country.
Also contributing is that Oregon is on a biennium system, which makes the state less responsive to sudden changes in the economy.

I also wonder if Oregon's lack of a sales tax and focus on an income tax is resulting in Oregon residents footing the bill in part for services that are enjoyed by people in neighboring states.

It's a boom or bust taxing system to be sure.
On the other hand, Oregon residents don't pay sales tax in Washington either.
posted by madajb at 10:45 AM on January 27, 2010


vuron: "I also wonder if Oregon's lack of a sales tax and focus on an income tax is resulting in Oregon residents footing the bill in part for services that are enjoyed by people in neighboring states."

It's more like the residents of neighboring states are doing their business in Oregon to avoid sales tax, and mooching off the services in their own states while avoiding the taxes which fund them. You really can't take advantage of Oregon's more expensive social services if you don't live there.
posted by mullingitover at 11:13 AM on January 27, 2010


I was thinking about goods and services that can't be effectively excluded on the basis of residency. Someone living in Vancouver could easily go to a park in Portland, or drive on the roads, or enjoy the higher standard of living without necessarily contributing to the tax base that makes that possible.
posted by vuron at 11:19 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is partly due to salary increases, but probably in large part due to health care costs as the Oregon public benefit package is one of the most generous in the country.

The problem is the rate at which ALL health care costs are accelerating, not the historical quality of the package offered in Oregon. I would hate for someone to assume that Oregon's offering a high quality health care benefit is the problem.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:21 AM on January 27, 2010


some facts counter to conventional wisdom about the Oregon situation:

1) people who make over $250,000/year -- the only individuals whose taxes went up -- voted in favor of the increase
2) the legislature cut spending $2 Billion last year. This increase was for $677 million
3) a lot of flux in Oregon state employee costs is that the state pension fund (PERS) lost a ton of money in reckless investments in both the recent crash and the dot.com crash
4) Oregon's corporate tax was for most companies a ridiculous TEN dollars a year
5) This is really about not managing the economic cycle. anti-tax types got a "kicker" bill that sends a refund for extra money whenever the economy is good, but it ratchets down when the economy is bad. Replacing the kicker with a rainy day fund would basically solve the problem.
posted by msalt at 11:30 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem is the rate at which ALL health care costs are accelerating, not the historical quality of the package offered in Oregon. I would hate for someone to assume that Oregon's offering a high quality health care benefit is the problem.

I'm not sure I understand what you are getting at here.

Oregon(through PERS) pays a significantly higher percentage of the cost(and in some cases, all of the cost) of health care premiums for public employees than do most other states.
So the rise in health care costs over the past decade has had a bigger impact on the budget than it has in states that pass along those costs to employees.
When you're looking at about 170,000 people (not including employees), that's a substantial budget factor.
posted by madajb at 11:33 AM on January 27, 2010


2) the legislature cut spending $2 Billion last year. This increase was for $677 million
The State budget was $51.2 billion in 2007-2009.
It is $55.9 billion in 2009-2011
The general fund budget went from $15.1 billion in 2007-09 to $14.2 billion.
The $2 billion in "cuts" comes from comparing an cost estimate (for the same level of services) to the actual approved budget.
Overall spending increased by 9%.

4) Oregon's corporate tax was for most companies a ridiculous TEN dollars a year

Which hadn't changed since 1931!

Replacing the kicker with a rainy day fund would basically solve the problem.

Not sure it would solve the problem, but agreed the kicker is stupid, stupid idea.
posted by madajb at 11:43 AM on January 27, 2010


On the other hand, Oregon residents don't pay sales tax in Washington either.

Well, Oregon residents who know enough to avoid paying sales tax in WA don't pay sales tax in WA. Which for large purchases is probably most cases and so it's not a huge distinction, but to the best of my knowledge (and the small whole of my experience) you have to make a point of declaring Oregon residency and jumping through at least a very small hoop of paperwork to avoid the sales tax.
posted by cortex at 12:09 PM on January 27, 2010


you have to make a point of declaring Oregon residency and jumping through at least a very small hoop of paperwork to avoid the sales tax.

Flash your Drivers License. Pretty simple if you remember(which I mostly don't, heh)
Of course, it doesn't' work for services or food, but hey, 6.5% is 6.5%.
posted by madajb at 12:29 PM on January 27, 2010


Last few times I've been at a big box store, it's been

- flash state id
- wait for teller to dig out signoff sheet
- fill out a couple details
- get sales tax skipped
- prepare for sighing and extra delay if you don't get this going before they ring you up

Which, again, this is a small pool of experience; I'm rarely in Vancouver and don't shop there more than once every year or two, so it might be that every store I haven't gone to is a lot slicker about it.
posted by cortex at 12:57 PM on January 27, 2010


"It's charming that people think it makes a lick of difference whether they vote for this or not. Whether the votes say it passes or not, the people who compile the vote tallies will say that it failed." -- Mayor Curley, January 26

"Oregon Passes Tax Boost on Wealthy, Corporations" -- Wall Street Journal, January 27

Next time you want to discourage participation in democracy, maybe use less easily falsifiable claims so it's not so obvious how wrong you are.
posted by scottreynen at 12:57 PM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're always going to feel that way until your income hits $1 million/yr or until your house is paid off and your kids have moved out.


As someone (not rich)who has spent more time than advisable around rich people: You are always going to feel that way. You can have billions and be less confident of your financial security than the guy who sells paper flowers at the intersection. It's a weird psychological thing. I don't pretend to understand it, but I suspect there may be an answer (of a sort) here.
posted by thivaia at 4:01 PM on January 27, 2010


Hm. And now they're going to try to get rid of the kicker rebates.
posted by floam at 5:51 PM on January 27, 2010


The governor is proposing to put extra revenue from a strong economy, into a reserve fund to be used when there's a weak economy. Seems very reasonable to me.
posted by msalt at 6:54 PM on January 27, 2010


Yeah, sounds reasonable to me. Plus, I bet I don't quite understand how this works, but doesn't "spend it all or you have to give it back" just encourage wasting the money?
posted by floam at 7:23 PM on January 27, 2010


According to the paper, this is the first referred tax increase to pass in 70 years (since Oregon instituted income tax in the first place).

So all of you that voted yes, you're part of history. heh.
posted by madajb at 10:19 PM on January 27, 2010


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