Measure 86 is likely to pass on Tuesday, Nov. 4. The measure gives people access to education who are otherwise denied it. This is laudable. Everyone, regardless of circumstances, has the right to a good education.
Let’s take a closer look at what else the measure means. In most cases, members of the general public don’t examine the details of ballot issues closely, even though they are directly affected by them. Rather, they rely on experts to examine the specifics on their behalf. Unfortunately, the experts don’t always take everything into account. Sometimes this is because they have personal or organizational agendas, and sometimes matters are impacting the situation of which they are unaware. The only apparent choice people have is to rely on what these experts say when deliberating a vote.
I think, perhaps, I represent a lot of people in that my eyes start to glaze over studying financial and technical matters in-depth. Take, for example, the most expensive decision most people ever make. Every day countless people across the country close on real estate transactions, signing page after page of documents they haven’t even read. And even if they read the documents, they wouldn’t fully understand them. I wouldn’t. They trust that the people who drafted the documents have done their job.
We have history as our teacher. The 2008 sub-prime fiasco could have been averted if there had been proper analysis of the situation years before the tipping point. Added to that, not only do buyers not read the documents when it comes to house purchases, they typically see curb appeal, neighborhoods, kitchens and bathrooms. Their focus is on what they want, and they may not be open to hearing that it might not be prudent to proceed.
It’s the same with Measure 86.
I want to see education opportunities increase. I want more financial aid to become available and want more money for our college. And, like other interested parties, I’d like these things to happen sooner rather than later. However, because of the huge amounts of money involved and the financial risk for Oregonians, it might not be prudent to proceed too quickly. Only a “No” vote can buy the time needed to take a closer look.
Lane Community College students, in a classroom scenario, could take on Measure 86 to study the proposal in depth. Experts from both sides of the argument could present their cases, and students could do their own research and analysis. Such a class would be highly beneficial to students in teaching them financial literacy at both individual and community levels. Even if the measure passes, which is likely, such an analysis could prove beneficial.
Because of the sub-prime debacle, people all over the country lost their houses. Prudent examination of the financials years beforehand could have prevented the whole catastrophe. But it all looked good and fair, right? People who were normally deprived of home ownership finally had a chance to live the American dream.
The stock market was up. Real estate was up. Life was good.
Then suddenly things went wrong.
The ensuing financial fallout caught most of us off-guard. The hardest-hit places in the country were Las Vegas and central Florida. I had the great misfortune of being in central Florida at the time, and I know first hand the pain of being caught in a financial disaster from which there is no escape. The housing market collapse hit everyone owning real estate.
Borrowing money is a serious business, and it should not be done in haste. There are potentially just over four billion dollars that could be borrowed under the terms of Measure 86. Investing money you have is risky. Investing borrowed money is much riskier. If anything goes wrong, and plenty could, Oregonians will feel the full force of the financial fallout.
Once the legislature has the green light to proceed, it won’t take much for them to get into action and start borrowing money and investing. Those of us favoring increased opportunities in education will get what we want.
The stock market is up. The real estate market is up. Life is good.
Unless something goes wrong.
We need to look closely at who is on each side of the measure, what they stand to gain, what analysis they have done, what safety measures are in place and more. Regardless of appearances, the foundation upon which the country’s financial system rests may not be as stable as some would have us believe. Another shock could be just around the corner.
Have the framers of Measure 86 accounted for this possibility?
A vote against Measure 86 could buy time to reassess the most prudent way to proceed. It might even reveal that we should not proceed at all. Examining anything free of positions and personal agendas is a tough road, but the discipline involved yields great rewards. It creates principle-centered people, and we need more of those. Such analysis may even uncover creative solutions that would otherwise remain unseen.
A class at Lane focused on studying Measure 86 would have multiple and multi-layered benefits. The class could produce a report detailing its findings. This could be the best way to serve the future of education, our college and the people of Oregon.