Ruling class vs. country class


In July 2010 Angelo Codevilla, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University, wrote of America's 'ruling class.' He describes a class 'where, whether in government power directly or as officers in private companies, their careers and fortunes depend on government.' They see themselves as 'saviors of the planet and improvers of humanity.' It is not an exclusive class. Members are from all parties, professions, business sizes, and unions. It is the source of their money and power, government, which is their qualifier.

Mr. Codevilla describes a 'country class' 'comprising two-thirds of the country.' It has many voices that are 'often inharmonious.' They are from all professions, public and private, union and non, that view their concerns in life as private and outside the purview of government.

'In general, the country class includes all those … who are aghast at how relatively little honest work yields, by comparison with what just a little connection with the right bureaucracy can get you.'

While this was written with a national view, it equally applies locally. Two recent elections indicate that the country class has had enough. First, the defeat of the county's vehicle registration fee for the Sellwood Bridge, and second the passage of the people's initiative 386 on urban renewal over the commissioner's 388.

Commissioner Ann Lininger, of Lake Oswego, lamented in the Nov. 9 Oregonian about 386 that 'I worry that this vote means that urban renewal will cease to be a funding source,' and the county will be 'unable to improve failing systems …'

We still have bonds and TIF funding available to maintain existing infrastructure. What is restricted is the ability of commissioners and those that profit from their decisions, the ruling class, from initiating new projects that place risks and costs on taxpayers without a vote. Those risks should be borne by those that profit unless the citizens vote to share those risks.

In Lake Oswego, our mayor and three councilors claim to be visionaries knowing what is best for our city. Yet, look at what their visions have done to fees and taxes as they reach a level that causes longtime residents to question their ability to stay. The Nov. 12 Community News of The Oregonian shows Foothills costing $134 million and adding 3,000 more residential units to the city. Where will the money come from for the additional services and school children added since the property taxes of Foothills for 25 years must go to paying off the project and not to funding services?

Additional visions include a water agreement that keeps fees going up while we conserve, a streetcar that originally cost $380 to $485 million, an erosion of property rights through sensitive lands and lavish spending on parks. A close look shows a group of four elected officials pushing these joined by the same small group of developers and consultants profiting from government.

For a decade this clash of beliefs has grown. From sensitive lands and LO Stewards to the election of Mary Olson then Jeff Gudman and Mike Kehoe, and the recent rejections at the county, the country class has been stirring.

2012 will provide us ample opportunity to vote our beliefs in city and county elections.

Dave Barra is a resident of Lake Oswego.