The OregonPEN Agenda

February 14th marks two birthdays, Oregon’s and OregonPEN’s: One of many for the state (157th), but the very first for OregonPEN.

In keeping with OregonPEN’s mission of “giving readers news and commentary that empowers and engages, providing the knowledge and insights needed for making Oregon better,” OregonPEN is developing a policy agenda or framework to guide its reporting and editorial work for the next decade, a period likely to be marked by substantial, fundamental changes in Oregon and the rest of the world.
 
Although the elements or themes of the OregonPEN policy agenda outlined in this and future issues are not intended to be static necessarily, the final list, culled from many candidates, were chosen with the idea that these are profound enough that, if adopted, they have the potential to make a great positive difference in ordinary life. As such, it is unlikely that these will be attained quickly or easily. As a wise Wisconsin graduate, computer scientist and pioneer Howard Aiken, once noted, “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”
 
And so the OregonPEN agenda will probably change slowly, more often by accretion of new policies than through deletion following successful attainment. Which is not to say at all that the policies are unattainable; indeed, to be worth pursuing, a policy has to be pragmatically possible, because the view here is that Idealistic policy prescriptions that presume a better class of people are better left to the religious institutions, not newspapers. So the trait common to all the ideas in the OregonPEN agenda is down-to-earth applicability with the people we actually have around now. That’s because, while the status quo we have today – which is a society in advanced decline, with an increasingly sclerotic politics that is unable to engage with basic, well-recognized threats, and that is dominated by rapacious but only short-term self-interest – is advantageous for a tiny few, it is not in the best interests of most Oregonians to allow this to continue. And self-interest is the most reliable source of motivation for change.  
 
Indeed, the dismal and worsening status quo maintains itself in large part only thanks to the failure of our corporate media competitors to do their job. The job of the press is not just amusement and the delivery of advertising. Rather, it is not only making sure that the people of Oregon know what’s wrong today but why, and how it can be fixed. That’s where today’s media entities are blocked, because they are controlled by and answer to their shareholders: who are the same shareholders in the corporations that are plundering in Oregon and around the world and making the dismal future an impending calamity.
 
Therefore, those media channels cannot offer their readers a clear view of the situation, because the last thing the corporations who own the media channels want is for ordinary Oregonians to understand our dire situation and that there are some fairly straightforward principles that, if adopted and implemented throughout Oregon, can reverse our decline and equip us to face the next century with confidence.
 
So it is left to OregonPEN to deliver the good news: we are not fated to become an increasingly corrupted and stratified society where the real decisions of life affecting everyone are made by a tiny handful of wealthy people in Mitt Romney’s “quiet rooms.” By observing just a handful of key principles, we can create a more just, happier, healthier, and much more anti-fragile society without any supernatural miracles and without a fundamental change in human nature required.

Beginning in this issue are some of those key ideas. OregonPEN will develop and return to these themes again and again in the next decade, and will use them as measurement standards when assessing the news, ideas, policies, and programs of others, especially those of governments.