Happy Valley resident Gary Duell starts with Olsen's last claim, that Olsen protects us from 'zealots who would tax Oregonians into oblivion.'

I just had to respond to Alan Olsen's Community Soapbox of Dec. 13, especially his claim — and your headline — about taxing Oregonians "into oblivion." DuellThis indicates a complete lack of understanding of micro and macro economics. Or dishonesty. Let's assume the former and examine the resulting logical fallacies.

Starting with the last absurd claim, that Olsen protects us from "zealots who would tax Oregonians into oblivion." I hate to disparage true conservatives by calling this a "conservative" false meme. But it is held primarily by self-named conservatives. There are at least three assumptions built into this delusion about taxes:

Taxes are all cost and no benefit, apparently just because they're called "taxes." True fiscal conservatives (of which I am one) look at both sides of the ledger in order to evaluate the cost/benefit of any expenditure, public or private. For example, our fuel is kept cheap by allowing fuel producers, transporters and users to externalize much of the cost of its use, mostly in the form of pollution during all three stages. Since fuel producers, transporters and users will not voluntarily internalize the costs of fuel, we force them to do by levying fees, taxes and — when necessary — fines for offenders. This also illustrates delusion #3.

Tax revenues vanish from the economy. This is almost funny, except that it is so widely held. For example, I don't understand how Alan Olsen can oppose the Clean Energy Jobs bill simply because it costs $700 million per year. That's a small price to pay to leverage a clean energy economy that is already ten times as large, at $7 billion. This bill would force dirty energy sources to internalize costs while saving the equivalent of 133 train cars full of coal and helping Oregon transition to energy independence. We have to change our ways! Better to do it voluntarily, and sooner, like adults.

Individuals will always band together to do all the necessary large scale, cooperative projects (aka, "government") we need for safe, healthy, sustainable societies and economies. Well, we know that isn't true. Otherwise the Oregon Department of Revenue would be unnecessary.

Olsen mentions Oregon borrowing from the Elliot Forest to support our schools without mentioning the profligate and corrupt selling off of Common School Fund assets that at one time were sufficient to provide a free education to all Oregon children in perpetuity. No one knows for sure the extent of this theft or who continues to be enriched by it.

Finally, I question the sincerity of Olsen's claim that he has "always supported a strong and vibrant environment" (whatever that means). He asks, "Who among us does not want clean air and pristine streams?" Well, apparently you don't Mr. Olsen, based on your abysmal voting record and resulting score of zero by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters ( You voted against a solar incentives program, against prohibition of toxic coal use, keeping the gray wolf on the endangered species list (predatores are an essential element of a vibrant environment), against prohibition of ivory and rhino horn trafficking, against prohibiting motorized mining. How do coal use and mining help keep our air and water clean?

The only oblivion I'm worried about in Oregon is that which is deliberately being caused by folks who subscribe to Grover Norquist's idiotic goal of shrinking government so it's small enough to drown in a bathtub.

Gary Duell is a resident of Happy Valley.

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