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I am William S. U'ren and I am dead. I was once a big noise in Oregon politics, an activist back in the days when Republicans were called progressive and there was an actual Populist Party. The history books say I am largely responsible for things like the initiative, referendum and recall here, as well as the direct election of US Senators. I ran for governor, once, when William Howard Taft was the Republican president, and I lost. Then I retired from politics and, thirty years later, I died. And almost everything I accomplished has been turned on its head and against the very people it was meant to help. Enough is Enough in Oregon!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

More Class Warfare from "Just to the Right of Center"--Whatever did you expect?

New face--same old class warfare, but it's a less extreme class warfare, no longer coming from the hard right but from "Just to the Right of Center."

Well, that's a relief.

Ms. Elizabeth Hovde says the Oregon legislature blew it by not lowering the minimum wage in this session.

As a spokesperson for those Just to the Right of Center, those who used to call themselves Conservatives and/or Libertarians, Ms. Hovde wants to "tweak" the minimum wage law that was passed by the people through an initiative vote.

Typically, not letting the hob-goblin of consistency get in their way, this comes from people with a history of rising up in outrage when anyone suggests "tampering with the will of the people" by "tweaking" any of the cock-eyed tax or prison "reforms" that Conservatives have used to undermine the infrastructure upon which Oregon's middle class once rested.

But, hey, to change "the will of the voters" about the minimum wage--well, that's no big deal to the very people who not so long ago could preach, with the straightest of faces, the benefits of "local control" here in Oregon while, at the same time, passing laws prohibiting such control by school districts that wanted to keep military recruiters off campuses or by cities and counties that wanted to pass gay rights ordinances.

I digress.

Ms Hovde's commentary "justifies" lowering the minimum wage with a commonly used rhetorical device--a string of allegedly ironic "never mind" statements.

All of these she trots out are actually "so what?" statements in that they are either prove nothing or are based on the reality-denying fantasies of the Just to the Right of Center/Conservative oracle--the School of Religious and Economic Faith at the University of Chicago. You would do well, therefore, to do as she says--never mind what she says.

She begins with "never mind" that Oregon has the second highest unemployment rate in the country.

No one has ever shown me a study of sound methodology that demonstrated any substantial link between minimum wage and the availability of jobs. You will have as many jobs as there is business going on to need them, generally speaking. Her statement that a high minimum wage stifles employment is a warmed over Libertarian myth that they prove by saying it's "just common sense." (Ever notice how what people say is common sense has more commonality than it does, upon reflection, sense?) This is repeated and repeated notwithstanding the inability to show convincingly (just read the studies they've ginned up to "prove" it) any such connection in the real world. If you want to see Libertarianism in action, by the way, visit Somalia today. There's a place where you don't have to worry about "men with guns" showing up if you don't do what those in charge want.

I digress, again.

This connection between the minimum wage and the availability of work is very like that argument you bought a while back in passing property tax "relief." Remember? Based on the ideological fantasies of the those now locating themselves Just to the Right of Center you were told that lowering property taxes on businesses would lead to lower rents and prices in stores. That's because, they told you, it was just common sense. In a free market if the cost of doing business goes down the imperative of competition forces sellers to lower their prices. Since property taxes are a cost of doing business if they are cut so are prices. The iron and hidden hand of the free market would force rents and prices down.

Makes sense, doesn't it?

You do remember them saying this to convince you to pass property tax "relief," don't you?

Still waiting for those lower rents and prices, are you?

I digress, once more.

"Never mind," Ms. Hovde continues, that Oregon's minimum wage is higher than the national minimum wage.

Again, never mind this statement because it is even less sincere than it is persuasive.

I wonder if Ms. Hovde, upon seeing the federal government jump off of the capitol dome, would think it a good idea for Oregon state government to do the same. I wonder, too, what other federal standards she and the Conservatives and Libertarians standing "just to the right of center" with her here in Oregon think we should adopt because they are federal standards.

Those now styling themselves as being "just to the right of center" often argue, in regard to Roe v. Wade, that the United Sates is a federal republic in which things should be worked out in the laboratory of the states, as the people there see best for them.

Well, here in Oregon our current minimum wage is an example of that very principle at work. Is Ms, Hovde, on behalf of those Just to the Right of Center saying that the people of Oregon--you--aren't smart enough to govern yourself as you see fit? In passing the minimum wage law does Ms. Hovde think you were too stupid to know what was good for you? Do you, the voters of Oregon, need some "smarter" entity (see below) to set the minimum wage at an "appropriate" level?

Ms. Hovde skips on to say that you should "never mind" that one in six people in Oregon receive food stamps but here she's wrong--you should mind this fact, although not because it has anything to do with the minimum wage. The sad fact of one in six Oregonians being on food stamps should be firmly laid at the feet of the class war waged on you from Just to the Right of Center.

Would people making a minimum wage that was lowered to a level "appropriate for the economic conditions" (to be determined, apparently, by those Just to the Right of Center) be earning enough to ineligible for food stamps?

Is she gunning for two in six people in Oregon getting food stamps?

She returns to being correct, however, when she says you should "never mind that Oregon would need 1,200 to 2,000 new jobs a month to stay even with population growth" because there is no hope that cutting the minimum wage will increase the number of jobs.

Think about this: employers wouldn't "invest" the money from cutting wages in hiring new people because they would have to pay for the book keeping and the tax contributions and unemployment insurance and all the rest of the overhead involved in having workers. More employees, with the same revenue, would lower the bottom line.

So, Ms. Hovde's advice to "never mind" anything she said is, pretty much, good advice. It's all irrelevant to the minimum wage and proves nothing.

Does she just want to distract you into continued sacrifice to those tired and once more discredited economic idols so you heed the guidance of their priests--you know, the people like her and good old David (what was his last name?) who stomped off the editorial page once there were fewer people on his side of the Red Rover game than on the other.

Or is she so taken with her faith in her savior--the hidden hand--that she really thinks that there is such a thing as a free market, one that is beyond the manipulation of human beings, especially human beings with a lot of money?

It doesn't matter which, of course. If you were in the middle class, or aspired to be there, the people now presenting themselves as being from Just to the Right of Center have knocked the snot out of you for 30 years. And if you listen to her they will keep right on doing that.

You made some real progress between the Great Depression and President Reagan, but that's gone, dismantled and sold for scrap by so called Liberals as well as the Conservatives--those Just to the Right of Center--all of whom rely on the campaign contributions of those who, perched on piles of money, can hire/bribe politicians to set things up to make their piles larger. And you know where the money comes from to increase the size of their piles. But that's another post. One you've read, from me, several times, now.

Just as in my day, these people--whatever they call themselves in the moment--have handed you this stuff for years. Now they have been in charge of economy for the last eight years, after chipping away at the safeguards built into it for twenty years before that. All the time talking about tax cuts bringing prosperity and unleashing the power of capitalism.

How has that worked out for you?

If they are right why are you so worried about the future they have created for you?

In the end you will have to crawl out your window, away from the control of the Just to the Right of Center Libertarian Conservative types, if you are going to set things right in Oregon, set things right for you and for your children.

Trust me, I know this is hard.

But remember, this aint beanbag. This is class warfare Ms. Hovde is waging on you, from Just to the Right of Center, as it's been waged on you for years. And you are losing.

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