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Friday, March 11, 2005

My plan to buy PGE

Now that there are several new plans in the works to buy Portland General Electric, I thought I'd let readers in on my own proposal, which I think would combine the best of a couple of different public policy initiatives currently circulating.

How much will it cost to buy PGE? $2.3 billion. Sounds like a lot of money at first, until you realize how reasonable that is. We can raise that in no time, following these easy steps:

1. The Portland City Council passes the "Clean Money" (a.k.a. "Voter-Owned Election") proposal, in which candidates for city offices will get $200,000 each in free, taxpayer-provided campaign funds if they (a) can get just 1,000 people to give them $5 each to run, and (b) swear not to accept any other donations.

2. Recruit 11,500 people to run for Commissioner Dan Saltzman's position.

3. Every candidate must "give" $5,000 to other candidates, but each will "receive" $5,000 back from other folks in the same position. None of them are actually out-of-pocket a dime.

4. Submit all 11,500 names to the City Council.

5. City Council pays each candidate $200,000, for a total of $2.3 billion.

6. Candidates pool city money and buy PGE as part of their campaign platforms.

See how easy that was?

Comments (4)



Wouldn't that 2 billion be better spent on installing solar water heaters throughout the city? If we leverage that with a little sweat equity and local-only materials purchases, we could hail it as economic development to boot.

Call it a dedicated expenditure, a sort of constituent approved loop hole in the campaign finance initiative to redirect advertising and propaganda dollars toward a durable public purpose, partially divorcing ourselves from utility politics. Each candidate could compete to see who can install the most solar water heaters with their allotment.

The news folks would have to broadcast the spectacle for free or not at all.


Sounds like a modified Ponzi-scheme to me. Maybe you'd like to take on Social Security reform next?

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