Welcome to ballot measure hell.
Two of the dastardly creatures are guaranteed to attract countless dollars paying for countless propaganda to sway voters in countless ways. Changes to land-use laws will certainly attract more attention than anyone wants, but at least this measure is hotly debated within the state of Oregon.
Not so for Measure 50, which already has a marketing campaign more visible than Peyton Manning. The onslaught has begun, with television ads, flashy print packages and any number of gadgets and gimmickry to confuse the issue.
So let's take a moment of clarity before all such attempts are buried in spin.
Measure 50 creates the Oregon Healthy Kids Program, designed to fund medical insurance for uninsured children in Oregon. The funding for the program would come from a constitutional amendment that would enact a tax on cigarettes. While not every dollar is spent directly on kids, it is designated health insurance funding that will kick-start this needed program.
Of course there are pages and pages of legalese and provisos about this, but the above paragraph is the basic fact of what Measure 50 intends to do. To say it even more simply, this measure will tax a product that is a known killer and use the money to make sure children have proper access to health care.
So why do Oregonians have to endure an onslaught of No on 50 advertisements? Because outside of Oregon interests funded by the enormously well-funded and powerful tobacco lobby are paying for it.
The ads may look like normal Oregonians sitting around confused wondering what the heck our lawmakers are up to, but they are actors who have probably never stepped foot in Oregon, paid with checks from companies whose only ties to Oregon are a P.O. Box in Salem or perhaps a previously empty storefront that now has computers and a couple of staffers stuffed into it.
Let's be clear. The Tidings' editorial position in the past has been stridently against most so-called sin taxes. We have also rarely endorsed a change to the state constitution, something done far too much of late by far too many special interest groups.
Measure 50 is both a sin tax and a constitutional change, so we should hate it.
But we don't. We wholeheartedly endorse it because if you look up common sense in the dictionary, this measure is exhibit A. Unlike many sin taxes that target items only some groups would label "sinful," cigarettes &
God Bless those little buggers if you've ever enjoyed smoking them &
have a direct, proven negative impact on the health of Americans, which in turn drives up the cost of insurance and medical care.
Without a doubt the "pleasure revenge" syndrome is a real factor that often causes otherwise rational people to do dumb things, like for example, smoke cigarettes. This isn't about whether someone should smoke or even has the right to smoke.
Thus the tax fits the crime.
While nobody can do anything to protect us from the onslaught of political ads on this issue, we can make the decision to ignore it. Decide to vote yes on Measure 50 and feel free to tune out all other arguments until the last ballot is cast.
Measure 50 is an easy one
Welcome to ballot measure hell.