Nike chairman: Anti-business climate nurtures 66, 67

January 17, 2010, 6:39AM
By PHIL KNIGHT
 
Forty-six years ago, when Mark Hatfield was governor, I started a small business in Oregon. In our first year, sales totaled $8,000. I am proud that it eventually became a major employer in the state.

It has been my hope that other entrepreneurs would similarly pursue their dreams in Oregon.

They won't.

Measures 66 and 67 should be labeled Oregon's Assisted Suicide Law II.

They will allow us to watch a state slowly killing itself.

They are anti-business, anti-success, anti-inspirational, anti-humanitarian, and most ironically, in the long run, they will deprive the state of tax revenue, not increase it.

The current state tax codes are all of those things as well. Measures 66 and 67 just take it up and over the top.

The state of Washington has no income tax. Its unemployment rate is 20 percent lower than Oregon's -- before 66 and 67. These measures would give Oregon the highest income tax rates in the country.

Reputable economists forecast 66 and 67 will cost the state thousands -- maybe tens of thousands -- of jobs, and that thousands of our most successful residents will leave the state.

We are way too anti-business as we are now. The state in past years was headquarters for The First National Bank, US Bank, Pacific Power, Willamette Industries, Georgia-Pacific, Jantzen, White Stag, G.I. Joe's, Monaco Coach, Meier & Frank, among many others. They are now headquartered elsewhere, are controlled by non-Oregonians or no longer exist.

One Fortune Global 500 company remains. But its founder and chairman is not merely an economic man. He has webs between his toes. But he, too, has some limits.

Do you really think any of these overseas "business trips" our leaders take will bear fruit? Can they get a company to move to anti-business Oregon without waiving taxes, passing even more burden onto the rest of us?

There are words to describe what we are doing with 66 and 67: It is called a death spiral.

Phil Knight is co-founder and chairman of Nike Inc.

 
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