Why Participate in a Rigged Game?

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Column by Paul Bonneau.

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Oregon has vote-by-mail, and in due time we recently received our ballots in the mail along with a voter’s guide. Since it is an odd-numbered year, all that was on the November ballot were two tax levies, one for libraries, the other for cops.

Like many other states, Oregon has not only the usual dates for primary and general elections, but also some extra election dates. I believe these have been in place for a very long time, perhaps even at entry into statehood in 1859. By the end of the last century, these minor elections had been appropriated for the sole purpose of passing levies with little to no input from the local voter.

Here is how it would work. Some interest group (e.g., teachers) would decide they needed a pay raise, and would file for a property tax levy to support that, specifically avoiding the high turnout elections dates of the primary and general elections, and using one of these available “off dates.” The election machinery in the state would obligingly go along with these requests, rather than requiring them to move their levy measure to a higher turn-out election date—despite the cost of running an extra election. Hey, it wasn’t their money on the line! Subsequently, there would be little if any mention of any election issue by their allies in the Ministry of Propaganda (local papers and The Oregonian); none of this “get out and vote” haranguing one usually sees in a regular election. Then on Election Day this special interest group would get their own people to the polls, and easily pass the measure even though there might be only a few thousand or even a few hundred people actually voting.

The abuse got so bad that people started noticing. Back in 1997, Bill Sizemore of Oregon Taxpayers United, after the usual massive effort needed for initiatives via petition-signing, got Measure 47 on the ballot terminating this practice, by the simple expedient of requiring at least a 50% turnout in order to pass a tax hike. This measure passed.

Nothing lasts forever in the world of politics.

First thing that happened, the election offices all through the state started aggressively clearing people off the voter rolls (so much for democracy, eh?) to reduce the threshold for getting levy measures passed. If you missed voting in even one election, certainly one general election, you were no longer a registered voter.

Of course the public employee unions went after Bill Sizemore, and they finally found or made up something to pin on him, severely reducing his effectiveness in stopping their scams. The courts were not very sympathetic to Sizemore’s case - hmmm I wonder why?

By 2008 the people had forgotten the past electoral abuses, the lobbying machine was working, talking about “democracy” and hating on the “double majority requirement” (even though, with this so-called double majority, it still only took 25% of registered voters—never mind those victims of the state not registered to vote—to get a tax hike passed). The legislature put a referendum on the ballot to eliminate the 50% turnout requirement for any election in November or May, thus effectively gutting the law that minimally protected taxpayers for a few short years. With help from the Ministry of Propaganda, the new measure passed—not a single newspaper in the state gave a rat’s ass about even this very modest means of taxpayer protection.

And what was Bill Sizemore doing that year? Rather than working to protect this portion of the Oregon constitution he had established, he was trying to get “English immersion” mandated in government schools! It was safer than fighting the public employee unions, I suppose.

This pattern has happened over and over in Oregon. This state was the first to outlaw regulatory takings, via initiative, but that is now gone. It was the first state to outlaw the practice of “civil asset forfeiture” via initiative—that’s gone, too. Either the courts chew on them for a while, or the legislature simply overturns any grassroots protections, or they refer it back to the people after the Ministry of Propaganda has sufficiently prepared the ground and the people have forgotten the past abuses. And all this completely ignores the prospect of voter fraud, and the vast amounts of money behind the ballot measures that make it likely.

Not only does nothing last forever in the game of politics, but the insiders will always win in the end. They just grind, grind, grind you down, and they do their dirty work on the taxpayer’s dime too. We pay them to rape us.

I had long ago given up on voting for human beings, but with vote-by-mail so easy in Oregon, I still occasionally got up the minuscule effort it took to vote against tax hikes. But why bother? Would I bet money on a horse race I knew was rigged? Even if it was easy to do so?

No.

By now, I am ready for the Revolution to start.

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