On Tuesday, May 19th, Klamath County voters defeated ballot measure 18-100 (Klamath Jail Levy) and approved 18-101 (OSU Extension Center Levy). The Klamath Jail Levy (also known as the Public Safety Levy) asked tax payers to trust County Commissioners with a potential $1.14/$1,000 addition to their property taxes. Proponents claimed this would ensure secure jail funding for the next 5 years. Opponents claimed that the County had other ways of funding the jail without further burdening tax payers — and that is exactly what the county had been doing for the past four years. Opponents won this battle 59% to 41%.
Levy 18-10 (aka OSU Extension Center Levy or KBREC) was a different story with claims that farmers would go out of business and 4-H would cease to exist if the levy was not passed. Opponents claimed that if farmers needed such services they could pay for them without tax payer subsidies and that 4-H would be better off without government involvement. Voters approved the levy by a closer vote of 53% to 46%.
But while some celebrate the defeat of the Jail levy, the fact that our taxes now increase another $0.15/$1,000 on top of the increases of over $1.00/$1,000 for either county or city school building projects is, in the end, a loss. Klamath County moved more towards socialism, just on a slower path than some would like, but certainly in that direction. The KBREC levy offers the same set of services that were available before, but now at an increased cost to all. What's worse is that only a small subset of the community benefit from KBREC which is paid for by all. That's great if you are the few on the receiving end, not so great if you are stuck with the bill.
However, what the newspaper and the television reports will fail to mention (or certainly de-emphasize) was the lack of voter turn out. Does it seem right that out of roughly 32,000 eligible voters that only 7,000 decided we should pay more taxes? That’s 25% telling 100% what to do. Does that sound like democracy, or even a representative republic to you? No, that is more like an oligarchy or a socialist state where the minority tells the majority what their tax bill should be and then slant services to benefit the minority.
Socialism thrives on lack of participation. Socialism is always in the minority and if socialists can discourage the majority from showing up, then they can set the agenda to transform America into some great utopia of their liking.
We need to stop the minority from ruling over all. No board of directors — from the smallest non-profit to the largest fortune 500 company — operates this way. Matter of fact no legislative body operates this way. Even our county commissioners and city councils do not operate this way. If any of these organizations do not have a 50.1% of their membership show up to vote, then any voting that takes place is null and void. Why? It is called a Quorum. It means that in order for any vote to be valid, over 50% of the voting membership must vote.
This is a great concept, and it is exactly why it is used in every board room and every congress across the country. A quorum requirement ensures that the majority of members speak in order to make something valid. In both ballots yesterday, only 25% of the voters spoke. For whatever reason 75% did not return a ballot. If a quorum of voters had been in place both levies would have been defeated because the 50.1% minimum of voters was not fulfilled. This eliminates the minority from ruling. It brings the march of socialism by tax increase to a crawl. In order for a new tax to pass it means people really have to care about it, care about it enough to return a ballot. Is that not what we want? Real voter participation, instead of 25% deciding what is best?
If board rooms requires a quorum of board members, and legislatures require a quorum of legislatures, then why should we not require a quorum of voters in order to pass additional taxes that effect all? The answer is we should.