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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Oregon's Measure 50, President Bush, and the moral test of government

“The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadows of life—the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
–Hubert Humphrey’s last speech, November 1, 1977


President George W. Bush’s veto of the SCHIP bill underscores the importance of the 2007 Oregon Legislature’s move to put Measure 50 on the November 6 ballot as a constitutional amendment.

Few legislators wanted to amend the Oregon Constitution to get to health insurance, but—faced with a moral choice—both chambers acted correctly in resolving to put the needs of Oregon’s citizens ahead of partisanship, ideology and plain mean-spiritedness.

Without Measure 50 on the near horizon, many thousands of uninsured and underinsured Oregonians with much to hope for but little to expect would face continued involuntary enrollment in President Bush’s Emergency-Room Late-Stage National Health Plan.

Meanwhile, President Bush’s monument for posterity, emblem of his failed presidency, the new United States Embassy in Iraq, largest and most expensive embassy in the world, is well behind schedule and over budget.

News broke today that the complex, originally budgeted for $ 592 million, will cost US taxpayers another $144 million to complete.

Those figures do not include the missile defense system it’s going to need, and it is important to keep in mind that no one is even guessing at what the embassy’s ongoing operating costs are going to be.

Think of the Wapato Jail, super-sized, visible from space, where everyone sprints when on foot, zigging and zagging, trying not to spill the coffee, and you have an image of what this project really is…an artifact already, a blueprint drawn up in those heady days after Shock and Awe, when Coalition troops entered the flower-strewn streets of Baghdad, and the Bush Administration and its neo-con hardliners fantasized a thousand-year legacy.

Oregon lawmakers and Oregon’s voters could never hope to cut a budget fine enough to put a dent in the massive outflow of national resources that President Bush pours down the toilet every minute of the day.

The silver-spoon President stated that he vetoed the SCHIP bill because he opposes “government-run health care.”

Uninsured Oregonians don’t care what it is called or who runs it as much as they care that they have access to it.

According to President Abraham Lincoln, the government Bush is referring to is “of the People, by the People, and for the People….”

Since he serves in the Party of Lincoln, that phrase ought to have some significance in the discussion.

If the government is “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” then government-run health care is actually run by the People.

Having never known a moment in life when his health insurance was not provided by either the oil industry, the State of Texas, the federal government or by his government-run Secret Service detail, President Bush is faced with a moral dilemma: To SCHIP or not.

He fails the moral test…but we already knew that was coming.

And the People of Oregon will make their moral choice known on November 6.

1 comment:

Herb Dunsel said...

The only "moral" I see in measure 50 is the axiom coined during our colonial days - "Don't tax me and don't tax thee. Tax that man behind the tree." In short, slap a tax on a minority group who can't fight back with their votes.

But, I want to inject a possibility here that maybe you haven't considered. Have you ever thought that measure 50 might be nothing more than a "feel good" measure? Just because you pass a tax law doesn't mean people will obey it.

There are already a GROWING number of smoking Oregonians who no longer buy their cigarettes in Oregon. Instead, they buy them from one of the 10 tribes of the Seneca Nation - the only Native American group of tobacco sellers who, by treaty, are "exempt" from the requirement of supplying client names and addresses to state taxing agencies.

Now ... do you honestly think that increasing the tax on cigarettes by 70% will increase revenue ... or rather, will it increase the number of people who buy tax-free cigarettes out of state?

One group of colonists decided they were unfairly taxed. And to show their disdain for an unfair tax, they not only refused to pay it - they held a party - the Boston Tea Party. Another lone colonist thought he was being unfairly taxed by the new US government. And he not only refused to pay it, he also wrote a book about the "duty" citizens have of "civil disobedience" to such unfair tax laws. His name was Henry David Thoreau.

Now ... I take no issue with the need to provide adequate health care to our children. I'm a firm believer in universal health care. But the problem you're addressing is poverty. And poverty is a societal problem that should be addressed by society in general, not by a minority segment of that society - simply because they're an easy target at the ballot box.

If Oregonians in general, non-smokers included, are unwilling to open up their wallets to address this problem of poverty, don't expect me or any other smoker to willingly open up our wallets.