No joke: The Socialists are running Portland

Some days I sit around wondering, who is it that dreams up these dopey, self-defeating local taxes in Portland? The homeless tax. The preschool tax. The arts tax. It goes on and on. Next we'll be voting on a deadbeat-tenant free-lawyer tax. I am not making this up. After that, a parks maintenance tax.

Well, an alert reader has pointed me to a website that explains some of it. It's here. The site is run by the Portland chapter of something called the Democratic Socialists of America, and on it, they're bragging about how they're getting all sorts of new taxes imposed on Portlanders who, you know, work within that evil capitalist system.

What have they got planned next? A wealth tax!

Tax The Rich is a seasoned Portland DSA working group where we think about how to move money and power from the rich to the working class. We’re a rag-tag group of amateurs and academics – all levels of expertise (or lack thereof) are welcome! We have several main categories of the work we do: wealth taxes, work on the city budget, supporting coalition campaigns, and tax education.

So far, our wealth tax work has been remarkably successful! In 2021-2022, we saw the first $208 million dollars flow from the wealthy to fund universal preschool. Our universal preschool campaign, which we worked on beginning in 2018 and through the passage of the Preschool For All measure in November of 2020, is good for kids, families, and workers. Through our work on the preschool campaign, we learned that although the tax code is famously skewed in favor of the wealthy, given the democratic choice, Multnomah County voters are more than ready to change that.

We’re also not slowing down in our ballot measure and taxation policy work! We’re already working on our next wealth tax, which would tax extreme “intangible” wealth, which includes stocks and bonds. This type of wealth is currently only taxed when it’s sold, or sometimes through the estate/inheritance tax, which means that the wealthy hold onto their money tax-free. That’s not very fair when the rest of us pay taxes on our wealth via income taxes and property taxes.

Our proposed intangible wealth tax (or an “extreme wealth tax”, as we’ve taken to calling it),  would be a 1% tax on extreme wealth over 10 million dollars, bringing in about 2.6 billion dollars in revenue annually. But, we still have work to do: most importantly, we’re still trying to figure out what the tax should fund. Our research crew has discussed what $10 million would mean for housing, preschool and education, mental health and addiction services, and more, but we’re still mulling any and all possibilities. If you have ideas of what this tax should fund, please reach out and tell us about them!...

Of course, the fight towards economic justice is too big to do alone, and so we’re proud to support all fights that work towards a more just Oregon. We helped our friends at Eviction Representation For All by developing a capital gains tax that will fully fund legal representation for all renters in eviction court, as well as other tenant services. We’ll be doing our part to ensure that their measure is successful on the ballot this spring....

With folks like this organized and constantly reaching into other people's pockets for money they don't even know how to spend, the rest of us had better wake up and get organized, too. Either that or call your realtor.


  1. I want to escape the socialist efforts to confiscate the savings I’ve accumulated over a life of hard work. I’ve had this conversation with my family and friends. I’d like to move somewhere that has the same atmosphere that existed in the Portland that I used to love.

    1. Try Albuquerque. Wonderful multi-cultural atmosphere, great weather, one of the most affordable housing markets in the West, and population growth is slow so it is unlikely to be taken over by California-style socialists anytime soon.

  2. Calling the realtor is the *only* tactic that makes sense.

    Let these morons choke on their own vomit.

    I feel a little sorry fit people who own commercial real estate, but only if they didn't vote Democrat.

    The rest of you: get out while you still can.

  3. Real estate in the west hills is gonna get
    cheap. More growth for “Vanhatten” across the river?

  4. Nice Trailblazer-like touch with the logo.

    Wasn’t an idea of this sort recently discussed and eventually tossed aside in Congress? Essentially taxing unrealized gains each year?

  5. Portland used to have a prominent culture of law abiding citizens. I noticed a change of civility beginning in the late 60’s that has continued to deteriorate.

  6. Idk about running the place?
    It’s capitalism all over, it sucks, but it’s what’s for dinner/can’t check out of it…’Hotel California’…if you will…
    …& I hate the f’n Eagles maaaaan!’-Little Lebowski

    You can cheerlead for it, which is kinda lame.

    Or try to understand as best you can how it works, as at todays time in a mass media no local news disinformation/distraction short attention span age w/absurdly specialized & tenuous logistics complex society, the time it takes to understand it well enough to criticize or shift the curve / orient it toward long term needs or goals isn’t easy.

    Furthermore, institutions/unions & govt. positions aren’t exactly business or corporate oppositional or particularly uh…‘visionary’ these days or really since the turn of the 20th c. In a lot of ways and we can’t public works build our way outta the crisis public works or WW2 style anymore, either haha…

    This is also nothing new, bunch of day dreamers without much practical grounding and reality snd hangers on are what makes up what could in any way he called the ‘left wing’ these days. & been largely true-enough for much of the post WW2 settlement/interregnum between gilded ages w/imperial runoff.

    Say what you will about it, and I wouldn’t go full liberfarian, either, but there’s something to be said for a federal sales tax with the most regressive aspects exempted (food/stuff like that)…it’s potentially really easy to collect without a lot of middle men and maybe make it more universal so we don’t have 50 little different nations all with their own currency/rules for every little petty outdated folklore or established thing…

    You didn’t put your finger in something tho; people with the means (are already) going to vote with their feet.
    That’s already started, but its likely to accelerate.
    It might be social, might be environmental.

    You already see it with every monied Midwest to NY old people and reactionaries consolidating in the villages in Florida, where I assume any LLC based there is just mafia or dirtbag crime w/cheap labor.

    Sure, it’s part of the sugar cane former slaveocracy, full of diseases and bugs & poisonous reptiles/gators, overcrowding, hurricanes and will be underwater in a few decades, but all these people will be dead by the time that matters?

    WA they get some of the line items more right then OR without as much hectoring snd scolding in some ways, but they also got that juicy military industrial money and it’s habitable/drinkable water & cheap electricity, broadly, with sales tax. But, it’s based on consumption, has horribke traffic/horrific hostility to *any* smart urban planning/growth control, owner occupy property tax revolt hasn’t happened yet there like CA under gov. Reagan & oregon under Sizemore so that’s liable to be a problem and it’s like they think the party will never end…they’res likely to be social and environmental turbulence & the longer you don’t plan for that & live in denial…

    …but yea, vote with your feet in the coming decades snd crises & throw up walls in or out is likely to be the new normal/dithering/scrambling over the crumbs in declining rates of profit on many enterprises w/corporate consolidation and monopoly…
    …we all work for the corporations, whether we like, know or admit/are honest about that or not, get used to it!

  7. *we all work for the corporation(s) (directly or indirectly), whether we like, know (or know in what capacity?), &/or are willing or wanting to admit to ourselves or anyone else…

    But 50 different little nations all with their unique & often annoying rules and traps and environmental crises & vote with your feet (if you can) or get trapped/walled in or out is the new normal.

    DSA membership #s are dropping & its consolidating in the places members and hangers on live as things get tighter and now that Trump’s out and the democrats kept sanders out/campaign was a doa , anyway (I choose to believe a little bit of both, in hindsight but who knows?).

    Much like humanities and law professors hanging onto the splinters of a breaking up & being scuttled for parts ship picking petty fights of what’s left of higher education? Culture war/ personal preference or affect or not?

    De-industrialization & flight from the core hit Portland later and wasn’t planned for, it used to be kind of a backwater snd affordable of the coastal cities/decent-enough place to live if you weren’t real status conscious & didn’t mind the gloomy weather not in the dirty south/former confederacy, anyway.

    But, yea, what a bunch of dreamers…like the ultra wealthy can’t swim around or regulatory capture/own state snd local policies &/or vote with their feet at this point…

    1. So I guess in conclusion, sure, you can critique the DSA for their little pie in the sky and defending their shrinking patch of turf & annoying/costing the rest of us, but takes One to know one; all the annoying humanities and law professors scrambling over the crumbs of the sinking academic ship I’ve met are kinda doing the same thing? Pot kettle black/takes one to know one or recognize competitors?

      Say what you will about the quote attributed to Henry Kissinger (he probably cribbed/stole it himself haha);
      ‘Why are the battles in academia so vicious and petty?’
      ‘Because the stakes are so low!’

      That said, I’m sympathetic to profs. Who’s guild & parent institutions are under attack &/or irredeemable?

      I think your critique is true, and maybe they’ll heed it if they bother to read it/you aren’t just preaching to your dying boomer echo chamber, but I also kinda both laugh reading it or find it ironic to lazy?

  8. There’s something to be said for declarative sentences

    1. ^Touche!

      And as for new taxes, what’s your next best alternative?
      Try breaking into CA/navigating all their liberal scolding annoying rules, waste disposal, car theft, parking & smog laws, bridge tolls, sales, income snd god knows what other taxes & monopoly pricing/quality issues you’re subject to on water/esssentisls I’d you aren’t

    2. If you aren’t already established/grandfathered in snd your property taxes aren’t a nickel/fixed at 3%/yr from 1960s/Reagan years, you don’t know how to work around the laws, mild climate/solar panels so no heating or a/c bill, don’t know how to take advantage of all the ‘programs’ and swim around all the laws/work-adobes.

      Or neighboring WA is where CA maybe was in the 60s/70s boom times for CA thinking the party will never end?

      Or go to ID, but the commerce is here in the coast, moderated climate snd infrastructure is dimly maintained and you gotta compete with all the CA republicans and live around those a-holes now in ID.

      So I dunno, of the surrounding alternatives, bad as it is here, snd much as we have to learn to do better (even from neighboring states), the idea that the ‘socialists are in charge’ is laughable at best…
      …can’t check out of capitalism and maybe that’s partly Jacks point?

      Idk how we hit the people from CA with money or shake fhem down on entry that ruined their place or are fleeing environmental issues (fires and lack of (clean?) or too much (dirty?) water?) snd consciously or unconsciously are changing or recreating the disaster here/bringing it with them/to us.

      And also not become a dumping ground/attracting bums without being too harsh compared to neighboring states?

      It’s going to be contentious and distributing the pain with our outdated small state government with influx of big state and city problems hitting us all at once late is real.

  9. This would be all well and good if we were doing this at the national level with 1960s-era income tax rates.

    But of course, we're not. which just means that the people with $10 million or more are just going to move that capital the hell outta dodge.

  10. I wouldn’t bet money on it, but reading the tea leaves of the Willy Week article makes me think they’re gonna be a No on this. Might catch a break on this one.

  11. there is a movement opposed to the capital gains tax. it might be a little late, but it's gathering.

    1. I hope it really is the light at the end of the tunnel and not the train’s headlight.

  12. I support higher taxes on extreme wealth, and a 1% tax on anything over $10 million seems perfectly reasonable. As for not knowing how it should be spent, that's only because the needs are so vast.

    The problem isn't high taxes. It's that the city is so incompetent with spending (and governing in general) that it doesn't produce worthwhile results.


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