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Archive for October, 2008

Oregon State Measure 60: No. School districts should be allowed discretion in determing what policies are best for their students.

Oregon State Measure 61: No. Judges should be allowed discretion in determining sentencing for crimes.

Oregon State Measure 62: No. Lottery proceeds currently fund job creation, economic development, and education. Funding those kinds of activities reduces the need to spend money on police and prosecutors.

Oregon State Measure 63: No. Are the proponents of this measure serious?

Oregon State Measure 64: No. Union-baiting.

Oregon State Measure 65: No. Each party should be able to have a candidate on the final ballot. Should we really be looking to Louisiana for political innovations?

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Oregon State Measure 54: Yes. A little bit of Constitutional clean-up that I’m glad we’re doing.

Oregon State Measure 55: No. Is pretending that the old district lines are still in force any less confusing a way to deal with redistricting than the current way?

Oregon State Measure 56: Yes. Living in a democracy has its responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is voting. People who can’t be bothered to fulfill their responsibilities should not be given veto power over everyone else.

Oregon State Measure 57: No. Judges should be allowed discretion in determining sentencing for crimes. (Besides which, why does Oregon dictate minimum sentencing in our Constitution?)

Oregon State Measure 58: No. School districts should be allowed discretion in determing what policies are best for their students.

Oregon State Measure 59: No. An unlimited tax deduction for federal taxes is special pleading for the wealthy. If we’re going to give a tax deduction for anything new (and we shouldn’t), then why not expenses for food and medicine?

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Oregon Secretary of State: Kate Brown (D). By default. Her two opponents are, respectively, an amateur and a naïf.

Oregon State Treasurer: Ben Westlund (D). Westlund’s opponent, Allen Alley, touts his business experience, but when I look at how his company, Pixelworks, was doing when he resigned as CEO—the stock price was down 80% over his last two years and has continued to fall steadily since—I don’t feel much confidence.

Oregon Attorney General: John R. Kroger (D/R). By default. His three opponents are, respectively, too young, too old, and too fringe.

Oregon State Senator, 21st District: Diane Rosenbaum (D). She is running unopposed and has always struck me as highly competent.

Oregon State Representative, 42nd District: Jules Kopel-Bailey (D). He seems to have relevant experience and looks like a promising political prospect. Plus, the dude lives five blocks from my house.

Oregon Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries: Brad Avakian. By default.

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The Republicans deserve the broom.

United States President: Barack Obama (D)

United States Senate: Jeff Merkley (D)

United States Representative, 3rd District: Earl Blumenauer (D)

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Bleah

I have had an Inspector Maigret mystery checked out but unread, in case I needed something to read while sick in bed.

Coming in handy today…

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Debt is real

Most people both own and owe: We have assets and we have debts.

An important distinction between the cash value of the two: Assets are speculative. Debts are real.

We can believe we know what our assets are worth, but their actual cash value is what someone will pay for them at the time we try to sell them, and we can only speculate about what that amount will be. Those speculations are often overly optimistic. Those speculations usually fail to account for how swiftly a particular kind of asset—say, a McMansion in the exurbs—can be devalued.

We can know the actual cash value of what we owe. That doesn’t change (though inflation can chip away at it over time).

All of this is to say that you want to be very careful when you hand over something real (an agreement to take on debt) in exchange for something speculative (a house, a car, a stock).

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Too big to save?

When enough financial institutions that are “too big to fail” totter at the same time, the government cannot save them all.

What worries me is the possibility that the federal government and Federal Reserve will sink $2 trillion, $3 trillion, $4 trillion into stabilizing the financial system and then simply run out of real money (as opposed to inflated money), leaving them powerless to intervene further and thus bringing on a truly catastrophic crash. The taxing ability of the federal government—its ability to back up its financial commitments with revenue taxed from Americans—is large, but it is not infinite.

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