Consumption tax needed

A sales tax in Oregon?! Never. No way. Pigs will soar aloft with eagles, devils will play ice hockey and the pope will profess atheism before that happens.

But Oregon has a problem. All general taxation here is based on income and real estate ownership. There is no general tax on consumption. And we’re in a financial bind.

So maybe it’s time to consider a relatively broad luxury tax. Maybe call it a “non-essentials tax.”

That means all groceries would be exempt, though not alcoholic beverages and perhaps not those beverages subject to container deposits. All prescription drugs would be exempt, including OTC when requested by health care providers, as well as all medical supplies and equipment.

Single clothing items under perhaps $200 would be exempt.

Large purchases (cars, boats, RVs) would have total tax capped at perhaps $200 up to $25,000 or so, with sliding scale increases from there. In a way, this runs counter to the idea, but for many rural folks a car is a necessity and buying a newer, fuel-efficient model has environmental benefits.

Of course, there would be no tax on medical and dental services, rent, house down and monthly payments, public transportation, educational expenses, etc.

Yes, it’s a tax on personal consumption, but smartly structured it might be more progressive than the corporate tax proposed last year. If corporations had followed through on their threats, then many of the exempted necessities above would have experienced “hidden tax” price hikes affecting low income Oregonians.

It’s time to quit being Oregon stubborn. Our sister state to the north has an entirely different approach (with added local options there’s a whopping 9.6 percent sales tax in Seattle) yet nobody is threatening to burn down the capitol in Olympia.

Also, according to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Washington’s ranking in fiscal solvency among U.S. states (24) is somewhat better than Oregon’s (30).

Time for fresh thinking?

Bruce Borgerson

Ashland

Recology not to blame

Recently, I’ve heard and read many laments on the closing of the Free Box at the Ashland Recycling Center. Many of these laments have focused blame at the company, Recology, that manages the recycling center. I would like to present a perspective that, in a sense, it is not Recology that closed down the Free Box, but rather the disrespect on the part of many individuals — for the valuable service that the Free Box provides — that closed it down.

Constant supervision of the Free Box cannot be provided by Recycling Center staff, and thus when no one is looking, people deposit their broken-down strollers, non-functioning appliances, trash, the dirty clothes they just removed so they can exit in the newly acquired Free Box clothes, cigarette butts, hypodermic needles, etc. Additionally — per Recycling Center staff — the need for police intervention has escalated recently in order to manage disruptive and threatening behavior on the part of some Free Box patrons.

As for myself, I would like to thank Recology and Ashland Sanitary for providing this wonderful community service for over 15 years. Hopefully, changes can be made to allow a free clothing service to continue, regardless of what organization oversees it.

Lucinda Hardy

Ashland