Thursday, August 20, 2009

You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I'll have to close this place in... 60 years.

In response to the same sort of budget shortfalls plaguing most other states this July the Oregon legislature passed a $700 million dollar tax increase which was signed by Governor Kulongoski. The first was an increase in the state income tax by a couple of points on single filers making over $150,000 and joint filers making over $250,000. The second was an increase in the corporate minimum tax which has remained at $10 since the 1930s. The state raised that tax to a whopping $150 dollars.

Predictably the state's conservatives went nuts. Kevin Mannix, who is one of the resident Oregon gadflies that makes a living through abusing the initiative process, jumped into the fray.

Mannix usually focuses on "public safety" initiatives but really he's just your standard right wing anti-government crank who'll take up any cause that will hurt the state. Within just a few hours of the governor signing this bill Mannix had initiative signature gatherers on the streets in an effort to have voters overturn these increases.

I was accosted by one of these signature gatherers on my way into our historic Multnomah county library the day after the bill passed. He asked me if I wanted to "help turn back the governor's tax increase on small business." What followed was a minor kerfuffle between us.

I confirmed that he was paid to gather signatures and not a volunteer, but he told me he would volunteering anyway because this was a "good measure." I asked him how he thought a tax increase of $140 bucks was going to hurt small businesses and he countered that I must of never had to struggle running a small business. I pointed out that even with the tax increases the state was facing huge budget cuts and wondered if he'd been following what had been happening in California. He hadn't.

The conversation ended with him letting me know that I "didn't get it" and me telling him he should be ashamed trying to gather signatures for a measure in front of a public building that more than likely would be shut down if that initiative passed. I told myself as I went into the library that at least I'd wasted his time and maybe prevented him from actually collecting a signature or two while we argued.

A few days later Mrs. Wormer and I were walking into a Dollar Tree and another one of these clowns stepped in front of me.

"Would you like to help us stop the governor's tax increase on small businesses?" he asked.

"Go fuck yourself," I told him.

As Mrs. Wormer squeezed my hand and hurried me into the store all the guy could say was "wow."

Wow indeed.


Arkonbey said...

Your assessment of the tax situation is completely correct (and since when to those who favor corporations care about small businesses. If they did, they'd do something to give small businesses a fighting chance against Borders and Wal-Mart and Home Depot).

However, I do think you were wrong to swear at the signature-gatherer. Let's leave language like that to the Vice Presidents when they talk to senators, please.

(I say this because I am 3000 miles away from your wrath. Behind a tree.)

Lockwood said...

I haven't run in to any of those idiots here in Corvallis. I agree with Arkonbey. Keep your language polite. Then kick them in the groin. It's a real shame that companies with millions of dollars in revenue each year will be required to pay 150 whole bucks.

Randal Graves said...

I must take issue with your previous commenters. A kick in the sack might result in criminal charges and good luck running a college from the big house. A curt 'go fuck yourself' is 100% legal. Plus it makes you feel good.

Dean Wormer said...


I understand what why you think courtesy is the best approach but there's a couple of things --

1) These guys aren't some average citizens out excersing their rights. They're mercenaries. They're working for some of the most regressive forces in the state who in turn are taking their money from corporations.

2) Like a lot of parents I have watched funding to schools face deep cuts every budget cycle. This year practically evry club was dropped from the high school. They dropped band a while ago. They even killed most of the shop classes. Where I live that's pretty bad since most of the kids who graduate aren't going to be wearing suits to work.

These people are working to hurt me and mine and I'm not going to be polite about it anymore.

3) If all that wasn't bad enough- one thing I didn't mention was that a big part of the budget shortfall comes from voters passing the measures in previous elections that this very same group has sponsored. Things like mandatory prison sentences that have huge financial impact on the state.

They burden Oregon with unfunded mandates then get angry when somebody does something to try and pay for their crap.

4) If that signature gatherer had a bad day because of what I said then I'm happy. Mrs. Wormer didn't have a problem with what happened and she HATES it when I do stuff like that.

Of course I still love you. :-)

Dean Wormer said...


exactly! I was just exercising my rights- same as him.

Dean Wormer said...


Missed your comment. Groin kick it is!


Don Snabulus said...

Those are both good increases. In fact, they should have doubled the high income personal income tax. Nobody deserves to make 4 times more than me except some jobs which pay about what I make anyway.

Ubermilf said...

What's the difference if you were polite or rude? He wouldn't believe you anyways.

Lockwood said...

@Ubermilf- you're probably right, but here in Oregon we has this ridiculous initiative system. A corporate funded PAC can put together a piece of legislation that benefits the funder, then pay a bunch of rubes like the ones Dean describes to gather petitions to put it on the ballot. Then the corporations donate funding for advertising, brainwashing the TV addicted masses.

If we can make life miserable for the signature gatherers, maybe they won't do it next time.

Life As I Know It Now said...

I think that was a very good answer! lol

he should be ashamed trying to gather signatures for a measure in front of a public building that more than likely would be shut down if that initiative passed

and that's the truth!

Ubermilf said...

Maybe you should keep a clipboard and some paper in your car. That way, when this happens, you can go back to your car and make your own counter-petition. And stand right next to him/her.

Distributorcap said...

you are too kind - that kind of language is said around NYC all the time

it amazes how stupid mosdt of these rightwingers are

okjimm said...

I really favor "go fuck yourself" bespeaks an eloquence of time and necessity

Dr. Zaius said...

It was time for someone to put their foot down and that foot was you. ;o)