Siren's Song

Dennis Linthicum

Siren's Song

Radical progressives in Oregon are hoping for a blue wave in November. The American Spectator expects Trump’s national achievements and momentum will bring a red wave. Which will it be?

The Spectator admits, “There are those polls saying that millennials are as interested in communism as in capitalism, and there is the more anecdotal evidence within the Democrat Party that Bernie Sanders-style socialism is ascendant. The Democrat primary victory by avowed socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over New York congressman Joe Crowley is being lauded as an example of the country’s lurch leftward; the party’s chairman Tom Perez even called Ocasio-Cortez its ‘future’ last week.”

Is this trend happening in Oregon? Are we trending left, or right? Are young collegiates hearkening toward the Siren’s song of socialism? Are they smitten with attractive promises for unlimited equality and high paying jobs? According to the rhetoric, aside from gaining equality, there will also be plenty of battery operated gadgets – smart phones and $100k Teslas, – all powered by “clean” energy with restored global ice-caps and endless wildlife living happily ever-after on a pristine planet.

Siren Song

Or, maybe there is a different draw.

Maybe they have watched our last several generations slowly succumb to a socialist-oriented bureaucracy. Many in Oregon mistakenly believe that our municipalities, counties, state and federal governments will manage our affairs better than ourselves. Maybe this latter tendency has led the young to wonder if ‘real’ socialism might work?

Our lives have witnessed government intervention and regulations growing at a relentless pace. This enlargement of government is straining budgets because of the health, wage and pension benefits dedicated to the elites and public servant classes. Budgetary stress, in turn, creates the need for more revenue, meaning taxes will increase by leaps and bounds as baby-boomers retire.

The estimate is that 10,000 boomers will retire daily for the next 20 years! This is the wave we should be wary of. It is not a blue wave or a red wave but is a budgetary tsunami that will overturn and capsize government budgets around the nation. It is the taxpayer’s worst nightmare.

First, each retiree will no longer be at the office, yet the taxpayer is obligated to pay benefits for the next 30 years or more. Yet, the current retirement plan structure doesn’t generate the cashflow required to meet the promised payout.

Second, the original position is now empty. However, it’s part of the budget; it has been a justified position for the past umpteen years and it is on the state’s org-chart. The assumption is that it must be filled.

No one asks whether it is a service that anyone needs or wants. No one even contemplates whether it is a service that government should provide. The slot is open; we’ve always done it this way; it must be filled. Today’s new-hire will come at an inflated salary level compared to when the original position was dreamed up decades ago.

Although Oregon’s economic forecasters say the outlook is rosy, our local school districts, library districts, municipalities and county governments are facing enormous hurdles. While the state is enjoying economic expansion and private-sector incomes are rising, so are tax burdens and public-sector salaries. This will slow the needed private-sector economy which is, ultimately, the sole source for funding the state.

The private-sector can only grow if the government shows fiscal restraint which is something Gov. Brown doesn’t appear willing to do. Remember, Brown signed SB 1528 which increased taxes on small businesses by an additional $1 billion over the next several bienniums. The Democrat majority did not have to raise taxes in order to balance Oregon’s current budget. Instead, out-of-touch, tax and spend progressives sponsored SB 1528 as a needless poke at President Trump’s tax reform efforts and, in turn, directly burdened Oregon’s small and family-owned businesses.

Throughout history, many have wondered about the forces, or waves of sentiment, that shape the destiny of states and their cultures. Henning W. Prentis, Jr. spoke to students during a 1943 address at the University of Pennsylvania’s Mid-Year Convocation. He said:

“Paradoxically enough, the release of initiative and enterprise made possible by popular self-government ultimately genrates disintegrating forces from within. Again and again after freedom has brought opportunity and some degree of plenty, the competent become selfish, luxury-loving and complacent; the incompetent and the unfortunate grow envious and covetous, and all three groups turn aside from the hard road of freedom to worship the Golden Calf of economic security."

It sounds like he is speaking directly to us even though last week we celebrated our nation’s most sublime historical achievement, the 242nd anniversary of “the unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States.” Our founders set the standard, they were willing to sacrifice their lives to choose Liberty over security.

Thomas Jefferson who penned the Declaration of Independence using only a goose quill, parchment and some India ink noted, “The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen, in his person and property, and in their management.” 

This freedom, allowing the individual to manage his own life, business and property is part of the fabric of our American traditions. These traditions were universally woven into beliefs which spawned the very enterprises which became foundational to our own self-governance.

This brings several questions to mind:

  • Is this old school thinking?
  • Doesn’t this universally apply to all people?
  • Will young Oregonians fall for the deceptive trap offered by socialism?
  • Would the re-election of Gov. Brown afford every citizen control of their own lives, property and destiny?
  • Would a Democrat super-majority provide citizens with more freedoms and opportunity or burden them with needless meddling and taxes?

The liberal progressives of the Antifa, Occupy-ICE, and Dump-Trumpster movements will be rallying to bring Oregon’s Democrat party further left by claiming to love freedom, fairness and equality. Yet, they promote endless discord through their totalitarian tendencies. They may have sincere motives, but their actions expose their own opulence while loosening the bands of public virtue, expanding intolerance and sowing the seeds of future faction and discord.

This is the paradox of our freedom. Our liberty tends towards license, our initiative and enterprise beggars envy, and our own prosperity becomes burdensome and debauched as government meddling grows.

But, thankfully, this is not the end of the story. In every election cycle, we the people have the ability to elect officeholders who will promote Liberty. This November, we can turn Oregon back to its prosperous roots by advancing more freedom, less government and lower taxes!

Remember, if we don't stand for rural-Oregon values and common sense – No one will!

Senator Dennis Linthicum signature

Dennis Linthicum
Oregon State Senate 28

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1728
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-305, Salem, Oregon 97301