Economists endorsing Measure 97: not as good as it looks

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Yes on 97 aggressively trumpets that Measure 97 enjoys widespread support among economists.

To learn the reason for such support, I queried some of the economists identified as Measure 97 endorsers.

“Higher taxes on corporations are exactly what’s needed to spur equitable growth,” said Dr. Susan Feiner, professor of economics at the University of Southern Maine.

“No one likes paying taxes, but the State of Oregon needs revenue, and Measure 97 is a reasonable way to raise it,” said Anders Fremstad, Asst. Professor of Economics at Colorado State University.

 “…I spent my career at Portland State, where two decades of relentless cuts have resulted in declining quality in what we offer students…,” said Mary King, Professor Emerita, Economics Dept., Portland State University. “I have been thinking for years about how we could turn around our state, and invest in education the way that other states do.
After carefully reading all of the analyses of the measure, meeting with the authors of the studies to talk with them, and then with other economists, I am in complete support of Measure 97.”

“It is high time to address the widening income inequalities right across countries and the world at large,” said Muttukrishna Sarvananthan, Development Economist & Principal Researcher at the Point Pedro Institute of Development in Sri Lanka. “Tax policy is one tool that could help narrow the widening income gap across communities and countries; raising taxes on corporations is one such policy tool.”

All in all, Yes on 97 lists 89 economists as endorsers of Measure 97. The list includes economists affiliated with schools such as Rutgers University, University of California-Berkeley, Northeastern University, Howard University, Bowdoin College, the University of South Australia and Anadolu University in Turkey.

No question it’s a long list, but a couple things stand out.

One is that just 18 of the 89 economists cited as supporters of Measure 97 are from Oregon*.

For a tax measure that its backers say is widely supported, the limited number of economist endorsers from Oregon challenges that assertion.

Another thing that stands out is the clear, and disturbing, anti-capitalism bent of some of the economists.

One endorser, Michael Meeropol, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Western New England University, is the younger son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who were convicted and executed on Jun 19, 1953 for passing secrets of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. Meeropol calls himself a “New Leftist” and is calling for “…a fundamental restructuring of neoliberal, globalized capitalism.”

“Whether you hold your nose and vote for Clinton and Kaine, decide to vote for Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, or sit out the election entirely, don’t accept that you are voting for a “progressive” unless you are voting for someone whose program at least seeks to restructure, if not destroy, today’s rapacious capitalism,” Meeropol says in his blog.

Another endorser, Yan Liang, Associate Professor of Economics at Willamette University, is an active member of The Union for Radical Political Economics, which says its mission “…involves a continuing critique of both the capitalist system, and of all forms of exploitation and oppression” with a goal of constructing a “radical alternative to capitalism.”

Endorser Robert Pollin is Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The economics department of the university is known for its Marxist traditions and radical economics. Pollin is also a member of the Union of Radical Political Economics, which represents the nation’s Marxist economists.

Then there’s endorser Martin Hart-Landsberg, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Lewis & Clark College in Portland. “…it is capitalism (as a dynamic and exploitative system)…that must be challenged and overcome,” Hart-Landsberg wrote in Neoliberalism: Myths and Reality.

Maybe Yes on 97’s list of economists isn’t such a blessing to the campaign.

 

*Economists from Oregon supporting Measure 97

  1. Cliff Bekar, Professor and Chair of Economics at Lewis & Clark College
  2. Marty Hart-Landsberg, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Lewis and Clark College; Member of Workers’ Rights Board, Portland Jobs with Justice
  3. Justin Elardo, Instructor of Economics at Portland Community College
  4. David Ervin, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Management and Economics at Portland State University
  5. John Gallup, Assoc. Professor of Economics at Portland State University
  6. Mary King, Professor of Economics at Portland State University
  7. James Woods, Assist. Professor of Economics at Portland State University
  8. John Hall, Professor of Economics at Portland State University
  9. Jerry Gray, Professor of Economics at Willamette University
  10. Yan Liang, Assoc. Professor of Economics at Willamette University
  11. Cathleen Whiting, Assoc. Professor of Economics at Willamette  University
  12. Tabitha Knight, Assist. Professor of Economics at Willamette University
  13. Margaret Hallock, Professor Emerita of Economics at University of Oregon
  14. Gordon Lafer, Professor and Political Economist at University of Oregon
  15. Hassan Pirasteh, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Southern Oregon University
  16. Linda Wilcox Young, Professor of Economics at Southern Oregon University
  17. Kevin Furey, Instructor of Economics at Chemeketa Community College
  18. Denise Hare, Professor of Economics at Reed College

 

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One thought on “Economists endorsing Measure 97: not as good as it looks

  1. I’d note that the petition circulated through every college and university economics department in Oregon. It picked up only 18 signatures in the state — a fraction of the number garnered by M-66/67 (over 200, if I remember correctly) a few years back. All but one of my colleagues in the graduate school of management signed the petition for M-66/67; none of them signed this one. Moreover, NOT ONE of the OR signers is a specialist in public finance and none of the economist signers from the rest of the world is a recognized expert on tax policy. On balance, I’d agree with you that this shows weak, not strong, support for M-97.

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