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Dead on arrival

Mail Tribune editorials

Measure 23 may sound nice, butit won't solve the health care crisis

We know that the current method of providing health care is an inequitable, expensive and confusing mess. We also know that Ballot Measure 23 is not the right cure for what ails the system.

Measure 23 would establish a single-payer system in Oregon that would essentially replace private health insurance. There may be some merit in that idea, but any pluses are quickly overshadowed by the costs and lack of controls inherent in the measure.

For starters, it would be funded by enormous increases on payroll taxes and personal income taxes ' for example, the top income tax rate would climb from 9.5 percent to as much as 17.5 percent. If those taxes don't cover the bill, a health care board would have the authority to sell revenue bonds.

And those revenue bonds would almost certainly be needed, since the measure proposes to cover virtually everything from massage therapy to major surgery and prescription drugs, with no deductibles or co-payments.

The authors of this measure are living in a fantasy world and are, sadly, wasting everyone's time. It's sad, because the state of health care and health care insurance cries out for some reasonable remedies to stem the cycle of ever-increasing costs and ever-decreasing coverage faced by all Oregonians.

Even in the best of times, this is not a measure that would stand a chance at the polls. It's almost an affront for it to be on the ballot now, with Oregon's unemployment rate near the top for the 50 states and the state already unable to pay for existing services.

Producing a new revenue stream to fund this would eliminate any hope of the state finding a stable funding for education or any other services. It would be a financial hardship on the state, its residents and its businesses.

Measure 23 may be based on a good idea ' health coverage for all ' but this proposal is dead on arrival. Oregon voters should say no to Measure 23.

Measures 21, 22: No

Voters should reject a pair of statewide measures that would change the method of electing judges. Contrary to what their proponents contend, the changes are more likely to increase the political nature of selecting judges than to reduce it.

Measure 21 would eliminate the governor's role in appointing judges, requiring all positions to first be filled by election and, in a really unnecessary slap at the judiciary, would require that all judicial races include a none of the above choice.

Measure 22 would divide the state into districts and would require candidates for the Oregon Supreme Court and the state Court of Appeals to live in those districts. One candidate from each of seven districts would be elected to the Supreme Court and two candidates each from five districts would be elected to the appellate court.

Measure 21 would ensure that judicial elections are turned into the same kind of horse race we now ... ahem ... enjoy when voting for legislators. It would invalidate an appointment system in which potential judges are reviewed and evaluated by legal experts and put the process in the hands of political heavyweights. Judges would be more apt to win seats because of their TV ads than for their legal acumen.

The none of the above choice is an option that anti-government whiners embrace and one that would force races to be rerun when 50 percent majorities are not reached, even when one candidate clearly has more support.

Electing Supreme Court justices and appellate judges by district would diminish the courts, which after all are supposed to represent the best legal minds in the state. If two of those great minds live in Medford ' or Portland or Lakeview ' only one would be eligible to serve. These are not positions selected to represent the provincial interests of a geographical corner of Oregon, but rather to represent the best interests of all Oregonians through a thorough understanding of the law.

Measures 21 and 22 were written by people who don't like Oregon's legal system. Their vision of what should be in its place would be a step backward for the state. Vote no on Measures 21 and 22.