Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Day: September 13, 2006”

Conservative regulation

Bill Sizemore is certainly a familiar figure in the initiative wars, so his presence on the ballot this time is more normal than not. His Measure 42 - the proposed ban on using credit scoring for setting insurance rates or sales - is still more than a little intriguing, because it appears to break a pattern of another kind.

Sizemore is a conservative, and usually found in opposition to government spending and regulation. Measure 42 is quite emphatically an extension of government regulation, a point Sizemore acknowledges.

So why is he doing it?

In a post on Oregon Catalyst, he first delivers a thoroughly convincing argument against credit scoring (with which we take no issue). But whart about the matter of regulation? He then explains: "I realize that some of my fellow conservatives might object to more government regulation of business, which this measure is. To them, I would simply respond: When government requires citizens to buy a product, as is the case with insurance, the product is no longer truly a "free enterprise" product. We have to buy their product. We have no choice. When we are required by law to buy a product, the playing field is automatically tilted in the seller's favor, in which case it is important that reasonable controls be installed to insure that consumers are not gouged. Passing Measure 42 is the right thing to do. Credit scoring is an unconscionably unfair and discriminatory practice."

There's one glitch. While governments do in some cases require purchase of insurance (for motor vehicle drivers, for instance), it doesn't in many others - health or renter insurance, for instance. As we undertand Measure 42, its provisions would cover them all.

The argument Sizemore presents for his issue is fundamentally sound. We won't even suggest that he needs a new fig leaf for it.

A piece of the debates

The joint appearance in Portland by three of the five gubernatorial candidates - Mary Starrett of the Constitution Party, Joe Keating of the Pacific Greens and Richard Morley of thr Libertarians - was a heartening sign all by itself. It showed that three people of radically - really radically - differing voewpoints could meet together in common cause.

Albeit in joint interest.

The three of them were complaining that sponsors of what will amount to three or four (the number remains a bit uncertain) debates between Democratic incumbent Ted Kulongoski and Republican challenger Ron Saxton are devoted solely to those two. Of course they're complaining; the spotlight won't be on them.

Which doesn't mean they don't have a point.

In the latest round of polling, Zogby interactive gives Kulongoski a 5.8% lead in a head-to-head contest with Saxton, but that expands to more than 7% when Starrett is added to the mix. Starrett is estimated at 4.5% in the poll. That's evidence she alone is enough to influence the race, which opens the door to the idea that the other two could be factors as well.

The usual argument for including the top two (maybe, sometimes, three) candidates is that, realistically, one of them will be the eventual winner. But what if you throw two other factors into the mix: (1) that the minor party candidates, or some mix of them, could affect the race, as one probably did last time in Oregon's gubernatorial, and (2) there are multiple debates ahead. What would be the big problem with ruling that of these three or four meetings, we devote one of them to all five candidates?