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Real Lives are Being Affected—A Personal Story on Cover Oregon’s Impact

Monday, May 12, 2014

Editors’ Note: We receive lots of responses to Lane Solutions articles and opinions. Because we’ve been so concerned with the unintended consequences of Cover Oregon we were particularly touched by the story below. It’s from “Angie,” a Lane County resident who experienced firsthand the effects of this $248 Million disaster.

My brother is living with me and he is on SSI and also receives Medicare.  He called the 1-800 number to see about getting help with supplementary insurance due to his health and income.

I wanted someone to know that whoever is answering the phones needs to be a little more considerate of the elderly that are calling.  The guy that my brother talked to was very rude and told him he was not going to take him off of Medicare in order for him to get free health care and hung up on him.  My brother was very upset.  My brother was not looking for a handout and was not asking to be taken off Medicare.

I would like you to pass along this information to whoever takes charge of the employees answering the phones.

If you would like to talk to my brother his name is “John” and his phone number is (withheld).

I just thought maybe someone should know about this incident.

Lane Solutions responds: “Angie” – Now a lot of people know about your predicament. And like them, our hearts go out to you and your brother.

If any of our readers have ideas that could help Angie and her brother, please email Lane Solutions at


Where Cover Oregon went wrong: Guest opinion

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

– The Oregonian, by Charles Jennings, CEO of Swan Island Networks, Inc., February 22, 2014

I decided to do a rare bit of housecleaning in my home office. As I was tossing out unwanted mail, I noticed the October, 2013, issue of one of the many high-tech trade magazines that periodically show up at my house, unsolicited. What caught my attention was a teaser on the cover about an article inside….

The project? Cover Oregon.

Here are a few choice quotes from the article:

Article subhead:  “With the launch of Cover Oregon, state officials expect their commitment to design thinking to pay off.”

“Thanks to design thinking … the Oregon team feels a lot more confident of hitting the mark,” said Cover Oregon CIO Aaron Karjala…

As we now know, the result of all this balderdash was a high-tech train wreck.

But let’s be fair: Cover Oregon is hardly the first big government IT project to fail. The list includes the Affordable Healthcare website and various sustainable energy programs under President Obama; the SBInet border control project under President Bush ($1 billion spent, zero results); and countless others….

Our Response & Your Comments

“Cover Oregon is hardly the first big government IT project to fail. ”We wonder why?

First, There’s a nasty little secret about government. It’s that is sees its first job as (are you ready?)…creating more government. More government means job security, more people to hire who will produce more government and, best of all – more money, which will lead to more governmental functions and (you guessed it) more government.

When you or we need a new sofa, table saw or whatever, our kneejerk reaction is to go to stores, identify the best product for the lowest price and buy it. We don’t start building the sofa or saw ourselves.

Not so with government. Because they know that if they do it themselves they’ll need to hire people, managers to manage them, assistants to serve them and lawyers to defend them. Who will hire more people, etc.

Does it cost more? Sure, but they have an infinite supply – your money. Does it result in “IT train wrecks?” Yeah – but you’ll pay for that, too.

So remember “The Iron Rule of Government:” More government always means even more government – at your expense.”


Why Lane Co. Has Cavities and Micronesia Has a Dentist

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ed. Note: This is the first of a three part series

Dr. Cedric Ross Hayden, D.D.S had a dream. He wanted to outfit a mobile dental clinic, staff it with volunteer dentists and hygienists, move it around rural areas in Lane Co. and offer regular, free dental care to low income Oregonians.

Here’s how it would work: Dr. Hayden would drive the clinic to a small town. He’d park it there long enough to meet local dental needs. Then he’d take it to nearby rural towns, parking it for a week or so. His goal was to visit these towns three times a year, providing regular dental treatment.

Was Dr. Hayden asking anyone to pay for his clinic? No. He and brother Matthew had already funded it with $200,000 out of their own pockets. Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it?

As ESPN sportscaster Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend.” Because his dream would turn to dust.

What went wrong? Why would small burgs in Lane Co. not welcome him and his mobile dental care facility with open arms? And why does Micronesia have the dental care that Lane County didn’t want? Find out in the next issue of Lane Solutions as we focus on one town’s “Thanks but no thanks.”


Oregon prisons, social services in need of millions of dollars as lawmakers adjust budgets

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

…When the Oregon Legislature convenes Monday, two large state agencies will be asking for tens of millions of dollars.

Lawmakers will revisit the 2013-15 budget to address collective bargaining costs, a record $40 million wildfire season and revenue forecasts that fell $70 million short of earlier projections

Corrections officials say they need about $90 million, and Human Services officials say they need about $100 million to fill their gaps, though some money is expected from other sources…

The Oregonian, January 28, 2014

Our Response and Your Comments

Here are three rules to remember when you’re reading about government “needing” more money:

Government (at every level – city, county, state, federal) always needs more money;

Government can never do with less money;

You can always do with less money because of Rule #1.

As Ronald Reagan opined: “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”


Eugene senator to discuss wage gap

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A report detailing the differences between poor and wealthy Oregonians is set to be released by Sen. Chris Edwards, D-Eugene, during a forum at the Eugene Public Library 6 p.m. Monday (Jan. 27).

Edwards authored a bill that passed during the 2013 Legislative Session calling for the Pay Inequality in Oregon study. According to a press release, Edwards plans to talk about ways to solve the “wage gap”…

Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and Oregon Council on Civil Rights Chair Sunny Petit are slated to join Edward.

Salem Statesman Journal

January 23, 2014

Our Response & Your Comments

Here are some questions we’d like to pose to Sen. Edwards:

When the Census Bureau measures income it excludes payments such as Medicare, Medicaid, nutrition assistance, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (that’s where the Govt. gives money to people who don’t pay taxes). What would the “wage gap” be if those were included?

People move up and down the income ladder. A college grad may start by earning $25,000, hit a career peak at $150,000, then retire and live off a part time job, pensions and Social Security. What’s wrong with that?

Could part of the “wage gap” be explained by the fact that a person’s income can move infinitely up but can only go down to $0?

If I’m earning what my skills and experience warrant, what do I care what Bill Gates makes?


Conservative age-based funds in college savings plans serve up surprise losses

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 14, 2014

Eric Hutchinson has been saving for his daughter’s college education for a dozen years. But in April, the Tigard resident decided to take advantage of the Oregon College Savings Plan‘s tax break.

He put $5,000 in the plan’s Age-Band 16 portfolio for 16-year-olds, which will automatically adjust his investment into more conservative holdings as his daughter Noelle gets older.

So, he was a bit surprised when he looked at the account balance just after New Year’s and found it held $4,980. Hadn’t it gained anything from the year’s run-up in stocks?

Our Response & Your Comments

How could your lose money in a year when virtually every stock market index shot through the stratosphere?

It’s simple – Trust it to the government.

To be fair, government college savings programs lost money because they are understandably conservative and become more so as students approach college age, so they skew towards bonds.

But there are a few simple truths here.

First, when you trust your money to the government you lose control over it, so you can’t start out conservative in Jan. and in March say “Stocks are the place to be, so I’m switching to them.”

Second, government programs are top down, rigid, one-size-fits all programs. And if they don’t fit you, it’s just too darn bad. Think ObamaCare, Cover Oregon, etc.

The final lesson: Nobody watches your money like you watch your money. Carve this into your dining room table and never forget it. Especially when dealing with the government.


Liquor sales, liquor profits

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Privatization proposals raise questions

After voters in Washington state approved an initiative privatizing distilled liquor sales two years ago, it seemed inevitable that Oregonians would soon be presented with a similar proposal. Sure enough, this week the Oregon Grocery Association filed five liquor privatization initiatives, one of which is likely to appear on the ballot next year…

The grocery association’s interest is obvious: It wants a piece of the action. Currently, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission purchases and warehouses virtually all liquor sold in the state, which is then sold through state-chartered liquor stores. The initiatives filed this week would allow stores with more than 10,000 square feet of retail space to sell spirits…

State-chartered liquor stores tend to be small, independently owned businesses. The proposed initiatives would open the liquor market to such giants as Fred Meyer and Safeway, which are backing the proposals…

For consumers, privatization offers the potential advantage of lower prices…

Oregon’s current system has promoted the emergence of a low-volume craft distillery industry, which after privatization would depend on specialty retailers. Privatization would make it more convenient to buy a bottle of Jack Daniels bourbon, but finding a Rogue Valley pear liqueur might be a different story…

The Oregonian, December 18, 2013

Our Response & Your Comments

Lane Solutions neither supports nor opposes this potential ballot measure. But we do have questions which we we’re considering and suggest that you do as well.

  1. Should Oregon, or any state, be in the liquor business?
  2. Does Oregon, with its high liquor prices, have fewer problem drinkers than states which have lower liquor prices (e.g. California)?
  3. Is it the business of government to “protect(ing) small businesses at the expense of big ones?”
  4. Is it the business of government to protect boutique distillers such as Rogue Valley or should the market decide who survives and who doesn’t?
  5. How good is government at picking winners and losers?

We welcome your comments on this issue.


Don’t let EUC lapse

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The need for federal unemployment benefits persists

What would the Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives do if they were forced to live on unemployment insurance and food stamps for six months? And how would they feel if their food stamp allotments were suddenly reduced and their unemployment checks cut off — three days after Christmas?…

The program, called Emergency Unemployment Compensation, was approved by Congress during the Great Recession to extend state-based unemployment insurance programs by using federal dollars to pay benefits to people looking for jobs. Congress has previously extended the program several times.

Unemployment in the United States was under 6 percent before the recession but the national average remains stuck above 7 percent — lower than the 10 percent peak in 2009 but still troublesome — and there are nearly three unemployed workers for every job opening. A report by the White House Council on Economic Advisers and the U.S. Labor Department, released Thursday, said extending the EUC one year would save 240,000 jobs nationwide, including 3,829 jobs in Oregon…

The Eugene Register Guard, December 9, 2014

Our Response & Leave Your Comments

The RG editors didn’t read or chose to ignore a simple economics lesson from an earlier issue of Lane Solutions.

So as much as we hate to repeat ourselves, we’ll count to ten and try again to communicate basic logic and common sense to them.

Here it is: politicians cannot remove money (“taxes”) from the private sector, take a bite out of it to run their beaurocracy, give what’s left to a group they want to vote for them and create more jobs than they first killed by over taxation and more money than they grabbed from the poor saps who worked for it.

If paying people not to work actually creates more jobs and economic growth why don’t we just pay everyone not to work?

And what do these geniuses think we’d do with the money if they didn’t grab it? Bury it? No – we’d invest it or spend it. In either case it would end up back in the economy in the form of economic growth and job creation.

Why don’t these “public servants” concentrate on something where they’re more likely to stumble on

success? Like an anti-gravity machine or a pill that converts water to gasoline.


How to Lose Your Job and Get Another One Fast

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Job shift follows complaints

 The financially strapped Eugene School District created a new administrative post this month that pays about $160,000 a year in salary and benefits and appointed to the job a high school principal who has recently been investigated by the district for unspecified job performance problems and criticized by parents for poor leadership, newly provided records show.

–       Josephine Woolington, The Eugene Register Guard, November 23, 2013

Lane Solutions Responds and Leave Your Comments…

According to the Register Guard, Churchill High principal Kim Finch was replaced after an investigation into her leadership. According to two parents she had created a “toxic atmosphere” and “fearful working environment” for Churchill staff.

Now – Don’t you wish you could create a “toxic atmosphere” and be rewarded with a job specially created for you at a cost of $160,000 paid for, of course, by your neighbors in Eugene? As they say – “Nice gig.”

But you and we know that it ain’t gonna happen. Because your company ain’t gonna pay for it out of their profits.

Some readers, however, will say “corporations do it, too.” Yes, in rare circumstances they do.

But here’s the difference, dear readers: Corporations pay for it themselves. They don’t go out in the community and confiscate random citizens’ hard earned dollars to cover their bad judgment. And if they’re public and do it too much, shareholders will holler. If they’re private they’re covering their screw-ups out of their own pockets. That may be dumb, but it’s their money to waste.

When it’s government creating jobs for people who failed in their last job, always remember – they’re doing it with money you worked for. And remember this the next time you can vote against those who did it.


Which Is the Monster? Tax limitations, or the taxes they limit

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A City Club of Portland research panel has concluded that property tax limitation Ballot Measures 5, 47, and 50 have created a “Frankentax” monster that is “slowly but surely wreaking havoc upon its creators and their communities in ways they might not yet realize.”…

So-called government revenue “losses” from property tax limitations are also “gains” to taxpayers who pay less than they otherwise would―in some cases enough less to keep from losing their homes…

– Steve Buckstein, Cascade Policy Institute, November 13, 2013

Lane Solutions Responds and Leave Your Comments

We give a loud, enthusiastic “Hooray” and a tip of the Lane Solutions hat to Mr. Buckstein.

Most people who talk about a “tax loss” to the government believe that the government has first call on every dollar you earn and that anything that they, in their magnanimity, allow you to keep is a “loss” to the ever demanding, ever growing blob called government. These people generally work for the government, or are slopping up at the federal or state trough and really believe that any money you keep is a loss to them.

On a deeper level they believe that the government is better at allocating resources than are private markets. If this were true, North Korea and Cuba would be economic powerhouses. Instead, they’re economic basket cases that regularly go hat in hand to America (North Korea) or the about to be basket case Venezuela (Cuba).

So we say “Right on,” Steve and the rest of Cascade Policy Institute! Keep getting the message out.