About Me

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I am William S. U'ren and I am dead. I was once a big noise in Oregon politics, an activist back in the days when Republicans were called progressive and there was an actual Populist Party. The history books say I am largely responsible for things like the initiative, referendum and recall here, as well as the direct election of US Senators. I ran for governor, once, when William Howard Taft was the Republican president, and I lost. Then I retired from politics and, thirty years later, I died. And almost everything I accomplished has been turned on its head and against the very people it was meant to help. Enough is Enough in Oregon!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Me and Bill Sizemore? As if...

I have a news flash for Rick Attig, Associate Editor at the Oregonian, and for Greg Wasson, a lawyer and all around democracy activist from Salem who’s been working on a book documenting the initiative in Oregon—which is necessarily (I guess, sadly) also about me.

Mr. Attig writes

“If the father of Oregon's citizen initiative and referendum, William S. U'Ren, were alive today, what would he say about Bill Sizemore, the electoral pest responsible for most of the initiatives on the November ballot?

“The answer probably would surprise you.

“Greg Wasson, a Salem lawyer who is writing a book about the history of the Oregon initiative, says that U'Ren would have "felt a certain kindred spirit" with Sizemore.”

The truth of the matter is that I don’t have dirt in common with Bill Sizemore (he, for example, is on top of it and I am under it).

To say that I, the person who headed up the implementation of the initiative in Oregon, feel like a kindred spirit with Bill Sizemore is like saying that Wright Brothers would feel like a kindred spirit with those who firebombed Dresden or lit up the London skies during the Battle of Britain because they used airplanes to do it.

It’s true that, like Bill Sizemore, I took cash from an out of state underwriter to pursue the single tax, which I am now glad didn’t pass because it would have been even more effective in destroying the middle class than the initiative has turned out to be.

If I had succeeded at that I’d have one more thing to be sorry I helped to start. The initiative, the referendum, recall, primary elections—all of these things have worked to accomplish exactly the opposite of what we had in mind for them, as well as destroying representative government (with all its warts) and replacing it with democracy. As I have said in previous posts, money has perverted all of these things and I repudiate all of them. There are a couple of things I am proud of, but for the most part...can you say co-optation?

Sometime I’ll write more about some of these other things that I wish I had nothing to do with. But for now let me just say two things about me and Bill Sizemore.

The first is that he has used the initiative in so many well documented underhanded and dishonest ways that he could be an exhibit in any debate to prove that the Greeks and our founding generation in this country were absolutely right about why democracy is a terrible form of government and why destroying a representative republic to create "democracy" is the beginning of tyranny.

We Populists and our Progressive Republican cousins were not dishonest, we didn’t cheat, and we didn’t lie. And we didn’t make war on farmers or workers, on lower and middle class people. We were honest and above board and in so far as we “made war” on anyone it was wealthy, powerful people (like the railroads and timber companies) who had their hands around our political/economic throats, just as their descendants have their hands around your throat, right now.

And that is the second thing I have to say about me and Bill Sizemore: he's not only a convicted crook but he has used the initiative to make war on the very people we Populists and the Progressive Republicans were trying to help and used it to benefit the people around which we were trying to put some limits.

Bill Sizemore’s use of the initiative petition has been one front on the 40 some year war on the middle class that has created your current “recession” as one manifestation of the centralization of wealth and power.

Mr. Attig’s article ends with this paragraph:

"’Everything that's been done to make it harder for Sizemore, has made it harder for everyone else,’ Wasson said. ‘U'ren would be very upset about the loss of respect for the Oregon initiative.’

Give a guy (even a dead guy) a little credit for being able to see how things have turned out and to change his mind about things—in my case, a lot of things.

Until there isn't one anymore you can't make it hard enough for people trying to use the initiative.

So, if you've been reading you know that I have changed my mind about a lot of the things I used to think would help the middle class (and those hoping to get into it) because they have been shown to do the opposite. If you’ve been reading this blog you know the things like the initiative have been used to destroy the middle class by destroying our republican form of government and replacing it with democracy.

Remember Benjamin Franklin, asked about what he and founders had produced in the new Constitution. “We have given you a republic, if you can keep it.”

We haven’t and it's a disaster. My complicity in its destruction is what has me going on and on here—from the grave, no less--to keep trying to get this across to you.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mend? Why not end? The Initiative in Oregon

Time to say die, Oregon.

Well, it may seem easy enough for me to say I'm willing to do that, but it's time for people in Oregon to "say die" in regard to the initiative and referendum (and throw in the recall, too).

But instead of facing the situation squarely, the City Club of Portland is putting a lot of effort into "Mending not Ending" this institution of mass democracy that has been taken over and is now rip snorting its way through Oregon's statutes, constitution and budgets just as the legislature does when the anti-middle class forces can get it to sit, stay and heel the way it could back in my day.

And you are wondering where the middle class went?

Money now buys and sells and places things on the ballot, and manipulates voters more and more and resources are shifted gradually from supporting and strengthening the middle class.

Look, I am responsible for the initiative in Oregon. I didn't invent it or even start it although sometimes people say I did. I was one of the leaders to implement it in Oregon and I will go to my grave regretting that.

OK, I didn't actually start regretting it until I was in my grave. But in my defense it didn't become the Frankenstein's monster I now urge you to kill until after I died.

As I have said: because, dollar for dollar, Oregonians (and Americans in general) are equal you in the middle class will never be the equal to the people who are behind most of the initiatives (or even political candidates), these days.

We Populists and our cousins in the Republican Party, the Progressives, thought we could beat them and put the farmers and those of us who would some day be called "cloth coat Republicans" in charge of government. But our experience makes abundantly clear that you will never beat them, you can only beat them back, temporarily, and then beat them back again when that needs to happen. It's like having forsythia planted outside. Keep the pruning shears handy--and sharp--or it will fill your yard.

The initiative is a perfect example of their ability to bind their victims with leash intended to control them. Originally intended to get around the lock that capital (in the form of the timber industry and the railroads) had on the legislature, it is now just one more tool in the box of pumping resources out of the middle class. Wealth now uses the initiative and the initiative delivers more wealth.

Follow the money.

Who funds most initiatives these days?

That you can look up. It's undeniable that initiatives are rarely funded by the middle class.

Who does it serve?

That you have to think about.

All that tax limitation stuff? Don't think about how many property owners got "tax relief." Think, rather, about the 100 "property owners" who got the most money from those limitations.

(It's like the "kicker" checks: don't think about the average amount of the kicker--demand to see who got the 100 largest kicker checks. "It's our money." Pul-eeze)

The primary beneficiaries weren't individual human beings, at least they weren't considered such prior to a certain line of US Supreme Court holdings that read the civil war amendments to apply to "super human" "citizens."

So, did the initiative serve the middle class regarding the tax limitations? No. This is one example of how the initiative has been used systematically destroy the middle class.

The crime initiatives? Help the middle class?

These caused a massive transfer of wealth from education and the social safety net to the people who build and sell things to a bloated prison system. And what has been the impact on the middle class of the dismantling of education and the social safety net?

(Don't forget--as has been said many times--Measure 11 caused crime to start going down in Oregon at least a year before it passed and in 49 states where it didn't apply. You can look it up.)

Follow the money.

I do not disagree with the thinking of those who are currently trying to reform the initiative system in Oregon. Republicans (and everyone else) in Oregon should read what they have to say and think about it and tell their friends about it.

And read what the Federalist Papers had to say about "democracy," while you're in the library (if the library in your community is still there--supporting and maintaining the strong middle class that is the base of freedom and capitalism).

These "mend not end" people are guilty only of timidity and pulling punches.

The only place they are wrong is in their conclusion.

Take it from me, from the "Father of the Initiative."

We Populists and Progressives were wrong. We didn't foresee paid petition circulation, we didn't foresee the 30 second ads and the "yes means no" titles and we really didn't foresee the ridiculous idea that "money is speech."

Their money will always bend it, so don't mend it--end it.

So, although you will never beat them, you can beat them back. And to maintain a wide and strong middle class--the base of the republic, any republic--you need to do that, over and over.

Put legislative power back in the imperfect but far better republican process of representative government. Money will usually win there, of course (at least as long as we have the "dollar for dollar" equality of "money is speech"), but it can no longer win as big, there, as it can on the playing fields of Sizemore. After all, if it could, why would it be out using the initiative process? If the people behind the Bill Sizemores of the world could use the legislature as well as they could back in the Gilded Age we would not even know his name.

If you think I don't have more to say about this you don't take into account the amount of time I have on my hands.

I am just getting warmed up.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Yes, class warfare.

When I heard that Karl Rove considers Mark Hanna to be his role model I almost came up out of this grave. When I realized, though, that it was the form of Senator Hanna, not the content, that Rove saw himself emulating I felt a little better--as much as "feeling better" can have meaning to me, anymore.

Mark Hanna was an Republican kingmaker in the 19th Century and he was no Progressive (he kept TR--a great exploiter of reform sentiment--off of the Republican ballot for President, at one point), let alone a Populist. He nonetheless understood something that Rove and your current Republican leadership never did and never will. Oh, they get the inter relation between business and government. Boy, do they get that. They just will never get that stable capitalism, not predatory capitalism is the key to making this thing work.

When George Pullman refused to arbitrate a dispute with his workers Mark Hanna sent his brother to persuade him to do so and, upon the refusal, upon the beginning of the nationwide strike that ensued, Good Senator Hanna said words to the effect that "Any boss who won't meet his men half way is a damned fool."

You, know, like Hanna knew, that class warfare has and will go on forever. You can no more stop it than you can credibly deny it. Nothing is more ridiculous, except perhaps for a self--aggrandizing perpetrator of domestic violence on a Friday night front porch in his sleeveless undershirt surrounded by cops yelling about how she had it coming or your big brother telling your mom that you hit him first, than pundits and US Senators crying about wealthy victims of "class warfare" as they stuff bags of lobby money into the dikes through which things like minimum wage and union organizing bills try to seep.

What we (Mark and I and you) know, despite our different times and places, is that people like Vanderbilt and Karl Rove don't understand the self delusion--they underestimate how much one has to feed the goose to keep her laying. (Of course, it could be my delusion that they think it's important to feed the goose. Sometimes it looks as though they believe that geese come and go and when one is starved to death another jumps onto the nest.)

Class warfare is so smooth, now, that the bosses have workers who don't see they are not met halfway and think they are well off and don't have to care if anyone else is, until the Vanderbilts and Roves have driven it all into the ground and realize their true situation. They start to ask where their cheese (or 401k "balances") have gone and all of sudden they are told that they are waging "class warfare" (tsk, tsk) against the rich.

Forget the lack of justice in all this just appreciate the danger to the stability of the country, of any country. If you want to see one of the most refined manifestation of this dynamic look at Mexico where 6,300 died in the drug wars last year. Although those running that show are not trying to redress the grievances of the poor in a country with a small middle class, a smaller upper class and a huge underclass, they are nonetheless one kind of outcome of a sustained, one sided class warfare.

The genius idea of the United States seemed to be, long about the time I died, what the red diaper babies of the Sixties would come to call the "em-bourgeois-ment" (the "middle-classing") of the working class. Giving the blue collar worker a stake in the system seemed to have provided a context of relative labor peace and an infrastructure out of which came a rising tide of prosperity for the whole country.

Mark Hanna was the Karl Rove, and the Charles Begala, of the Progressive (and Populist) era, at least in the sense that he was the strategic mastermind. His famous statement about meeting workers half way made them think they had a piece of the piece, a stake in the outcome. It made them middle class. It made the country prosperous and stable.

But with the Karl Roves (in both parties) in charge these last 30+ years that has changed. The middle class is shrinking--has been shrunk--by Republican Conservatives doing the bidding of those who aspired to and then attained the status of "too big to fail" and, therefore, too big to need to worry about how the rest of you were doing or what you would say about how well they were doing.

And that's where you are right now, as a Republican Party, as a country.

The American people may well be waking from their Stockholm Syndrome Nightmare/love affair with "conservatism" and Fox News (not to mention CNBC and all the rest of the media more worried about its access to "newsmakers" and corporate profits than in telling people what's going on) may not be able to lull them back to sleep.

To take the shell of the Republican Party back, and to regain political legitimacy (and integrity), Progressive Republicans have to return to Mark Hanna's vision. We have to stop destroying the midde class and start allowing people to re-promote themselves into it. It may mean a return to interest rates of 6-10% on investments, but it will also mean having the kind of stability upon which prosperity that doesn't shrink by 30% on a cycle is maintained.

You have to moderate and modulate class warfare.

A modest proposal: stop the war on unions. Meet the workers halfway. But don't do it like the Democrats want to to do it. They want to improve the strength of one side vis a vis the other. You want balance. You want stability.

Propose something truly progressive: compulsory arbitration of disputes over wages, benefits and working conditions. Put both sides on an even playing field.

Few who have ever been involved in a strike (other than those who fight for both sides--the union organizers and the lawyers who represent the bosses) have ever liked strikes--they are ugly for those involved and affected and often don't make any economic sense for one or both sides.

A complete system of dispute resolution through mediation and arbitration exists in the United States. Why not use it?

Class warfare is unavoidable in a capitalist system. But using government as a platform from which to fight it, which is how we got to where we are now, is self destructive. Government should be a countervailing, balancing mechanism.

No one knows when to quit when it comes to centralizing power in his own favor. And the Progressive approach is to make sure, as the republican Constitution of the United States tries to make sure, that no one has the ability to centralize so much power that the whole structure is brought down by their ability to overreach.

Today's Republican Party thinks there is no reason to do any balancing.

Libertarian fantasies about human nature, about rational people who will act in their own (and everyone else's) best interest are as obviously false as the socialist fantasies about human nature. They are actually, at bottom, the same fantasy--that humans are "perfectable."

But you know better. You know that everyone wants "socialism" for himself and "free enterprise" for everyone else. You know that we all need to both watch and watch out for one another.

So, if you are a Republican who has had enough of the dysfunctional relationship between the middle class and the concentrations of wealth that control the Party, and if there are other Republicans willing to talk to the American people about expanding the middle class, decentralizing economic/political power and controlling the ability of any group to wage economic and political warfare on any other group, the time is ripe to step forward. There's a future there. If you would be more inclined to vote for the Romney who ran for President thirty years ago than the one running right now now is the time.

As I said in the beginning, though, I don't think that you can do it. I think if you try those who control the party now will expell you as they have expelled anyone, over the years, who held onto views like this. I think you'll be forced to start another party to pursue this agenda--one between, in the middle of, the current Republican and Democratic Parties. But I also think that the experience of trying to regan control of your own party, and being rudely rebuffed for talking common sense, will be necessary to impart enough "off your ass" to you to get it going and get it done.

So good luck. I'll be watching. Got nothing else to do.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Decentralize Economic Power -- Part Two

I said yesterday that you should understand the elephant in the room, so to speak--the real, unsolvable problem of American politics that you have to work around in trying to regain influence to create a livable society.

That problem is, of course, money.

I, for one, never underestimated the power of handing out rail road passes, little bribes, to people who work in Salem, if you get my drift.

And you can't underestimate the power of handing out campaign contributions, big bribes, to people who work in any capital, state or federal.

You will never really bust up the Trusts and the "too big to fails" because they have the power of money and you will never break that power.

Anyone who says you can is lying to you and setting you up first for disillusionment and then for bitter, irrelevant radicalism.

And those say all this money is not corrupting the system are those with whom one should not associate except in most formal or wary ways. Such people are either deluded or deluding (or both). Both delusion and the motives to delude others are contagious.

None of the remedies envisioned to take the influence of money--and end the control of the "too big to fail"--will work. Even President Obama (and isn't he something?) took the money when he could get it. Sure, he needed to. Get it?

You can be both cynical and optimistic. You have to be both cynical and optimistic.

Buckley v. Vallejo may be remembered as the epitaph of the Republic but it's really just the final FDA (Federal Democracy Apparatus) approval of that almond scented snake oil that has been accumulating in the body politic since the day that Benjamin Franklin challenged us to keep what he and the rest of the Constitutional Convention had come up with.

The idea that spending money is free speech would seem ridiculous but for all the money behind convincing and bribing people to believe it's true. If we really want to do that why don't we just say I can use "speech" to persuade voters by sending each a check? Why do we settle for half measures? Why allow money be spent to lie to voters, scare and flatter them, manipulate their emotions and symbols but not just pay them off?

If there is buying and selling going on, and it always will be, then political power will be just one more market commodity. With apologies to both Woody Gutherie and Mao Tse Tung, political power grows, at least in this time and place, out of the barrel of a fountain pen (or an electronic transfer of funds). And as much as you try to prune that bush it will always grow back.

Get over it and work around it.

I do have a modest proposal, if you are still interested in a futile quest for "purity." Not my cup of tea but one has a lot of time, where I am, to think about stuff that is theoretically possible but out of any realistic question.

Start with the basic truth: dollar for dollar all Americans are equal.

If one person has $500,000 to spend on a politician (or a group of them) then he (and that person is most likely still a he, at least for now) is equal to anyone else who has $500,000 to spend the same way.

Notwithstanding the fact that you have the same number of ballots to fill out (probably) in November that those two have you are not their equal.

Are you with me, here?

Say you spend $50 on a politician, say a Senator. Say you go to see that Senator and you are in the waiting room with one of you fellow citizens who spent $500,000. (Actually, that $500,000 citizen is not going to be sitting in the waiting room with you, but you know what I am saying).

Who gets to talk to the Senator and who gets a few minutes of some intern's time?

Whose input is going to influence the Senator's judgment?

Will that judgment be about what's the best policy or what's the policy most likely to get another $500,000 scoop of ice cream?

So you don't think this is good, do you? Don't you want everyone to have an equal influence over politicians? You want citizens to have an equal chance to help their representatives get a clear picture of what's involved in a situation, right? This decision maker is elected on the basis of the voter's confidence in his or her ability to assess such situations and to, on the basis of the information you all give them, make the best judgment possible about what to do. Right?

To have a system like that everyone in that Senator's waiting room has to have an equal opportunity to tell her story and, if what she says makes sense and has fact behind it, to influence the ultimate outcome.

The only way to do that is to figure how all of you can be worth the same number of dollars to that Senator. And the the only way to do that would be to limit the price of access to something most people could afford (say $100 per candidate per election) and to provide that only individual human beings could contribute. The limit would apply to everyone, including the candidate.

That way, when the Senator looks at those in the waiting room they are all worth the same amount of money, in his eyes.

Ah, but yes, Buckley v. Vallejo. The Supreme Court has found that this kind of scheme is not Constitutional. It's not a sound decision but there it is. So, you would need a Constitutional amendment to limit campaign contributions this way, to make you all equal--not equal dollar for dollar but actually equal--in the eyes of political office holders.

And now we are are back at where I was telling you that there is no way you can wring the bribery and its attendant corruption out of American politics, there is no way you can actually decentralize economic power.

Do you think that there is a chance that the members of Congress who see those $500,000 voters--or, more likely, their lobbyists--every day are going to go for limiting campaign contributions to $100 per person per campaign? And if you can envision that (having been into the silly smoke, apparently, or a high school civics class recently) can you see enough state legislators going for that to approve the amendment?

If you can see that then you are not seeing all the money those $500,000 voters will spread around in both Congress and state legislatures to make sure you'll never really see what you are hallucinating.

They will say, aside from claims that "free speech" is sacred, that this system would not raise enough money to run the kind of campaign it takes to get elected these days. The answer to that, although it won't do you any good to give it, is that such would be one more great benefits of such a system.

Without all that money candidates would have to do something other flood television airways with 30 second shots of waving American flags, children, mushroom clouds and scary people of every imaginable ethnic group. They might have to discuss issues and say something other than making affirmations that they "approved this message."

So. Like I said: you are not going to be able to really decentralize economic power except by striking at the foundations and you can't do that given the fact that centralized economic power built and control the system. You cannot use the system to destroy the system. If you try to go outside the system you can't do it, either. They will kill you. That is what you are up against.

But do not despair, Progressive Republicans, you can make inroads into the problem, and the inroads are worth making. Your half measures are taken in a world that will always will be a more or less evil place--but it means a great deal whether it is more evil, or less. So make those half measures.

Next I will talk to you about how Progressives should lay down class warfare--or, at least, turn it into something like a class football game--as a way of re-asserting themselves in their own party or in a new party and then in American politics.

By the way, did you notice how Democrats have taken the title "Progressive" lately, to re-brand themselves from "Liberal?"

Think about that.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Decentralize Ecomonic Power -- Just Part One of Part Two

Aside from aligning with the middle class against the plutocrats, Republicans (or Greens, for that matter) interested in finding their way to political relevance need to talk about decentralizing economic power.

This is tricky, though. This is a river into which one can wade too far and only people like the Wobblies would actually try to get to the other side. Such as they will always drown. Take it from a former Populist.

You are not, remember, a revolutionary. You are a Progressive Republican. It will be necessary and good to keep pointing that out as you fight first for control of your Party (or create a new one) and then of the country. Emphasize the plain lesson of history: if the likes of you are not taken seriously then there will be real revolutionaries with which to contend. You are here to take the wind out of the sails of both the Black Pearls and Flying Dutchmans of politics and economics, if you catch my drift.

In my day Progressive Republicans were strong in Oregon (and elsewhere) because, like us Populists, they took on the big interests. Timber companies and railroads owned the state legislature (and the rest of government, too) and they got bigger and bigger expecting the rest of us to just put on tin beaks and peck among the rest of the chickens.

The progressive reforms were aimed at preventing what you are going through right now, what's in the cards for ever-growing piles of money. We didn't want to destroy those interests and neither should you. We just tried to balance their power because we understood (as they did not, still don't and never will) that as their piles of money grew bigger and bigger they are not be able to stop reaching and taking more until they have destroyed themselves and everyone else in the process.

We were trying to cut them down to size and work around them, not destroy them. They can't be destroyed. You can only hem them in and work around them and then only temporarily, at least by any particular means.

The Republican Party (or a new party) will get a lot of support if it explains over and over, as we Populists and the Republicans used to, what large, concentrated and uncontrolled wealth does to self government. You have plenty of contemporary examples to make your case. Teddy Roosevelt didn't go very far into this, but he started talking up "trust busting" in a way that it needs to be talked up, again.

And his cousin borrowed a lot of Progressive Republican ideas after our wave had crested and the Party again belonged to those who controlled President Hoover (go easy on Herbert until you know more than you do about him. He lived here in Oregon for a while and his sin was no greater than that of any bought and paid-for politician. You may hear from him, again, too. He's not happy with what popular history has turned him into and who has more time to blog than the dead? Who has more of an inclination toward self justification?).

Now you are hearing a lot about enterprises that are "too large to fail," those that hold you all hostage (Not me, of course. There's not much percentage in holding the dead hostage--except metaphorically--although it's been tried).

Once again the people running these corporations have made themselves (and their stockholders, temporarily) wealthy creating an economic train-wreck and then turned around and threatened the rest of you with even more dire consequences if you didn't finance fixing the now-bankrupt system they created to make themselves rich at your expense, in the first place. And, once again, when it's fixed (again, at your expense) they will still own it and there will be another go 'round. It's like those movies of you love so much--Casablanca or Rocky Horror Picture Show--always playing everywhere for another generation to join the audience of those old hands who like to see it over and over.

I hear some Democrats in Congress lately saying things like "too big to fail means too big to exist" but they always over react and from them it sounds more like a slogan than a promise, or even a prayer. I can tell they don't get (or are in denial about) the implications of that: anything that has to be that big to work will impoverish and enslave us if it's left in the hands of people who understand its "value" and "possibilities" for making money (and therefore creating power).

So, you'd think that anything we truly need that also has to be that big must be firmly in hands of a government that understands the general welfare and is under the watchful eye of a populace that does, too. And that would be your mistake (and that of the Libertarians and the Socialists): none of us acknowledge human nature, at least in ourselves. If we don't acknowledge the truth about human nature then we won't understand the general welfare, at least when our own ox is involved. Any chance we get we all send the general welfare over the hill for a personal advantage. Can you look around right now and say, with a straight face, that people left to themselves have enough sense to govern themselves?

Fact is, we all need to be supervised: closely. No matter who we are there needs to be always someone who can stop us as well as someone who can pick us up when we fall.

So, government is not any more the answer than "free" markets. Keep those two grappling with one another and live in the space their fighting creates.

Don't worry too much about the D's; they will eventually go as far South as Nixon did to avoid doing more than talk that talk about counter-balancing control of wealth (Clinton did) and for obvious reasons. Only the "too big to fail" are up to financing all the campaigning necessary to bring in the sheep every couple of years or so. And if the conflict goes to another arena the "too big to fail" won't fail: look at the Wobblies.

So back off from the idea that the government ought to outright own large enterprises. Economic decentralization could be about something bigger than getting insurance companies out of the banking business, adjusting marginal tax rates and putting a state name after that of the pieces into which things like Standard Oil are divided, but there is only so far you will get with that bigger problem.

There is only so far you want to get. Does the name Robespierre mean anything to you? Trotsky? If not, Google them. If that doesn't get across to you then find a book about their times and if you still don't get it then click to link to IWW on the left and have at it.

As I said, you should only wade into this river--not try to cross it all the way. As Progressives, who are not revolutionaries, you should, though, at least clearly understand the basic problem, the problem that you intend to face with half measures.

Next: Decentralize Economic Power (part two)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

An New/Old Republican Party

The Republican party becomes more weird every day, appealing to an ever decreasing hard core base. It seems, even to me, a dead man, less based in reality by the moment. It's almost as though, to steal a line from a pundit, they have been smoking too much Grassly to be in touch with most Americans outside they are calling "the beltway" these days.

I can't help but remember that a larger segment of the voters were attracted to this Party when it advocated different ideas, ideas that Republican leaders have purposefully kicked out of the platform over the past forty years.

I was on the political field when the Progressive Republicans were at it, as a Populist leader here in Oregon, and as time went on realized that they had it more right than we did.

I once dabbled in running for political office--an endeavor for which I discovered I did not have a suitable temperment. Before my delusion was dispelled, however, someone told me that a candidate needed to give people three reasons to vote for them.

If Republicans today would start with three changes in its appeal I think they could make a comeback--not only to power but to the integrity that Progressive Republicans and Populists (like me) tried to establish in Oregon and the Federal governments.

Today I will present the first of these changes, with the others to follow over the next few days.

1. Strengthen the middle class

Read the books: a strong middle class is the prerequisite of happiness and prosperity.

For example, it seems to me that they could be talking about modifying the tax code to favor building a strong middle class rather than exploiting the middle class to finance the government designed to create a stronger and wealthier upper class.

Perhaps, as a small example, they could equalize the tax rate on investment income and income from a salary.

Perhaps, as another small example, government could encourage education of a larger number of children, instead of ways for rich children to escape public schools and to break teacher unions.

There are a great many other things that could be done to strengthen the middle class and therefore restore economic stability.

Tomorrow, and the following day, I shall explain two other things that the Republican Party could start advocating if it wanted to restore its sanity and influence.