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Page:Quarterlyoforego10oreg 1.djvu/318

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F. G. Young

the state to which he can point the assessor. But this argument did not save or secure the amendment of the law.

It is probable that the overthrow of the policy of deduction for indebtedness was hastened through the fact that attention was called by the governor in 1891 to the part the national banks were free to take in aiding the fraudulent practices of tax-dodging under this law. The notes and accounts owned by these institutions could not be assessed. To deduct claimed indebtedness to such banks would leave the door wide open for fraud. With under assessment, and no scaling of the debts, an exchange of notes between two taxpayers was all that was necessary to avoid taxation—unless the assessor always was pointed to a taxable credit within the state equal to the indebtedness deducted. And the fiscal statistics of Oregon during these years do not show that any progress was being made in this direction. The plea for lenience to the debtor through deduction of indebtedness, for a policy purporting to shield him from double taxation, must have sounded well to the rank and file of the Oregon population to blind it to the abominations practiced for more than a generation under the Oregon law for the deduction of indebtedness. This failure to discern a common and public interest is illustrated in about the same form in the situation in which enormous incomes are allowed the state officials while the people hug to their bosoms the constitutional provisions limiting the salaries of these officials to meagre sums. The same civic blindness and obliquity is shown, and the selling out of the public good accomplished by the shrewd and sly efforts of the unscrupulous few, in the state's policy for a period with her public domain. Misled by the supposed economy in compelling the intending purchaser of lieu lands to find his own basis lands, he was given, for $1.25, land worth at the time four or five times that sum and easily seen to be worth fifty times that sum to the state in the very near future.

To sum up. A distinctively primitive form of the general