Uncle Phil Gets Surly on Measures 66, 67

Everyone’s favorite University of Oregon mega-booster Phil Knight has a letter in today’s Oregonian blasting Measures 66 and 67, and he sounds a lot more like Uncle Scrooge McDuck than regular ol’ Uncle Phil:

Measures 66 and 67 should be labeled Oregon’s Assisted Suicide Law II.

They will allow us to watch a state slowly killing itself.

They are anti-business, anti-success, anti-inspirational, anti-humanitarian, and most ironically, in the long run, they will deprive the state of tax revenue, not increase it.


We are way too anti-business as we are now. The state in past years was headquarters for The First National Bank, US Bank, Pacific Power, Willamette Industries, Georgia-Pacific, Jantzen, White Stag, G.I. Joe’s, Monaco Coach, Meier & Frank, among many others. They are now headquartered elsewhere, are controlled by non-Oregonians or no longer exist.

One Fortune Global 500 company remains. But its founder and chairman is not merely an economic man. He has webs between his toes. But he, too, has some limits.

Is Phil obliquely threatening to take his vaults of gold doubloons elsewhere if Oregon gets too tax-happy? I wouldn’t put it past him. Phil’s made it pretty clear over the years that he expects to get his way just by virtue of being obscenely rich. Of course, I can’t really blame him either. I’d be pretty pissed too if, after giving hundreds of millions of dollars to various philanthropic causes, I was accused of “not paying my fair share.”


2 Responses to “Uncle Phil Gets Surly on Measures 66, 67”

  1. 1 Vincent
    January 18, 2010 at 2:54 am

    The idea that “the rich” don’t “pay their fair share” is class war-mongering of the most cynical variety. If the people who’re currently shrieking at the top of their lungs about how all the schools and hospitals are going to close if we don’t dispossess the wealthy of their money were really serious about Oregon’s budget, they’d propose a sales tax. They know, however, that a sales tax in this state is essentially a non-starter, so instead they’re choosing to stoke populist outrage in the hopes of picking some lower-hanging fruit.

    After all, who doesn’t want to stick it to the rich and take ’em down a peg or two by taking some of their (no doubt ill-gotten) money away?

  2. 2 C.T. Behemoth
    January 20, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    I might be wrong, but isn’t the argument also that the tax rate for ‘the rich’ has been lowered over time? That is, it’s not a tax hike, per se, but a regression to some sort of IRS mean? I don’t know for certain, but I think I remember hearing that refrain somewhere.

    The issue with a sales tax, from what I understand anyway, is that we already have a pretty hefty income tax. I would prefer the sales tax though, if it was one or the other.

    I’m not anti-rich, but there is a gray area for me when the ‘rich’ narrative includes cutting taxes, which leads to less state income, which then leads to programs being cut that non-rich depend upon. That the rich can afford to push for such things is fine, but I don’t think we should formulate policies that benefit only the upper most echelons of the country.

    I’ve been working hard and investing my entire life, but I’m nowhere near rich. I only bring that up because the notion that hard work translates directly into prosperity is flawed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but the rich are on a different social level…so some conflict seems natural, and especially so when policies are in fact created to benefit ‘them’ at the expense of ‘us’.

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