By GENE H. McINTYRE
It would seem that a new order of things is underway in Oregon by virtue of recent meetings, regular and special sessions of the Oregon Legislature and its navigator, the honorable Governor John Kitzhaber. Questions persist, however, that the average Oregonian should want to ask and have answered by those persons among us in positions of presumed trust and social responsibility.
1. If Oregon’s legislators and governor are successful in their effort to terminate contract law here by passing and signing Senate Bill 822 and Senate Bill 861, are any contracts negotiated by the state of Oregon safe from being abolished by authoritative actions in the Capitol?
2. Will Oregon Supreme Court justices rule in favor of SB 822 and SB 861 and thereby sanction the end of contract law in Oregon?
3. Why are Oregon’s public employee retirees singled out for inequitable and discriminatory financial cuts in their contract-earned benefits? Meanwhile, other retirees, who earned their incomes in Oregon by working for the federal government and other tax-supported entities, those who lived and were paid in Oregon, using all the tax-paying services available here, are financially untouched by the cost of reforms to public education and the ever-increasing costs in social services. How can this be ruled as right?
4. Why are private sector retirees exempted from newly-needed taxation in support of the higher costs of across-the-board public services?
5. Are the governor and legislators just a bunch of dragoons who choose to pick on those perceived by them as least able to defend themselves from biased and prejudicial practices while at the same time really work for the wealthy and special interests in the state for whom they do their bidding in return for campaign contributions so they can get re-elected and keep their taxpayer-paid jobs?
6. Are some daily newspapers in Oregon actually the tools of Oregon’s corporations and money interests who do not want to pay their fair share of the tax burden and who have a deal with some practicing journalists to keep up the drumbeat of harassment of Oregon public employee retirees with the goal of abolishing retirement benefits altogether for them?
7. Do Oregonians realize that when benefit and salary cuts come to some—but not them—that the precedents achieved by that “success” could also enter and effect their financial and work lives?
8. Every society sooner or later faces moral dilemmas. The U.S. faced a very big one by way of slavery. Now, a number of politicians in D.C. want to end Social Security. A number of politicians in Oregon want to end PERS. If/when that happens to Oregon’s retired public employees will it present a moral dilemma or one simply resolved through deprivation and ultimate extinction?
(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)