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Archives - December 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009

OBMNovCoverNoBoxTimber towns

What do you mean, “What Now?” [November cover story]. The environmental zealots won, with the support of the Democratic Party in Oregon and Washington, D.C., and its governors and legislators. Reason and good stewardship lost. The jobs are lost forever and the forests have never been sicker. We should all remember who took the green out of Oregon.
Greg Pilcher, via email


Oregon taxes

Your piece in the November issue [How Oregon taxes stack up] had a big hole in it. It didn’t mention a sales tax. How does Oregon stack up there? And how does Oregon compare in personal income tax among states with no sales tax. As a fiscal conservative, I’d rather reward earnings/savings and penalize spending, but since we have what we have, you should factor it into any evaluation of how we are doing on taxation.  
Tom DiCorcia, via email


Burning issue

It is time to recognize that coal-fired power plants need to be phased out [Greens take aim at PGE’s Boardman plant, November]. Natural gas appears to be a solution for the next few decades until such time, if ever, non-polluting plants become economically viable. The Port of Astoria has suffered from Boardman air pollution, which has settled in the Columbia River and floated downstream to Astoria. As a result, the Port has had to spend tens of thousands of dollars removing it. This cost has, I believe, never been added to the calculation of the Boardman costs to the environment or to the cost of doing business.
Don McDaniel, via oregonbusiness.com



Healthy jobs

Several comments were prompted by our November story on jobs possibly created by legislation that expands health insurance to 80,000 Oregon kids and 35,000 low-income adults with a 1% tax on insurers.

It’s misleading to imply that health insurers and hospitals are paying the 1% assessment. Insurance companies and hospitals will assess their clients , who will in turn pay the 1%. Nothing is being absorbed; this is not found money. The real story here is that people who are struggling to pay their health-insurance premiums and hospital bills just took another hit. And the likelihood of 3,600 jobs being created is unsubstantiated. What this really means is longer lines.
Bo Shindler, via oregonbusiness.com

On the surface, this well-intentioned health-care tax to add people to the Oregon Health Plan seems like a great idea … but to “throw” insurance coverage at a segment of people who have difficulty managing even just the household … much of this insurance will go to waste. Why not fund clinics within our school system and deliver real primary care? Now there’s a chance to make a difference in our communities.
Kelsey Wood, via oregonbusiness.com

 

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Editor's Letter: Power Play

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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