An Emphasis on Economic Growth from Central Oregon

Right From the Start

A Monday article in the Oregonian by Harry Esteve demonstrates that once you get outside the malaise that is Portland and the “gruppensprechen” that dominates the far left politics of Multnomah County, there is clearheaded thinking and a desire for change that will actually focus on the critical element for recovering Oregon’s “quality of life” – a job. The article states:

“’I don’t need taxes,’ says Crook County Judge Mike McCabe, who has seen his area’s population shrink by nearly a quarter and unemployment top out at 22 percent. ‘I need jobs.’”

Mr. Esteve notes that when it comes to the working men and women of Central Oregon:

“They’re not looking for a monster company to solve the region’s staggering unemployment problem. Nor, as they head into the 2012 elections, do they expect politicians or government to bail them out.

“When it comes to politics, this region of ranchers, niche start-ups and lifestyle migrants acts as much from the pocketbook as from the heart. The recession’s wounds remain as raw here as anywhere in the state, and voters are looking for candidates who understand the delicate nature of a potential recovery. They want cautious tax policies, targeted spending and a hands-off approach to the things that made the area so desirable for so many years.”

Several years ago I gave a speech to the Central Oregon Republican Party. I was very critical of the state party’s platform. I quote liberally from that speech because the emphasis remains the same:

“Now let me stop right here. Before I continue I think it is important that you understand that I am a faithful and practicing Catholic. I take a back seat to no one in my opposition to abortion. I am a lawyer and I can read the constitution as well as anyone and I can guarantee you that there is nothing in the constitution that guarantees the right to an abortion. When you hear a judge start talking about the penumbra of rights that is simply judicialspeak that he or she is making up the rationale for the decision.

“I say that because I am going to be fairly critical of the Oregon Republican platform.

“The platform is 48 pages long. In the first half – the first twenty-four pages – abortion is mentioned a dozen times and homosexuality is mentioned nine times. In contrast jobs are mentioned only once.

“Abortion is not a state issue and won’t be a state issue until the United States Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

“How many different ways do you really have to say that the Oregon Republican Party is unequivocally opposed to abortion, including the use of public moneys or programs to perform or encourage abortions? I mean that only took me twenty-one words.

A reader has to wait until page 34 of the platform to read about the economy and then it is two and one-half pages long. Two and one-half pages.

“The point here is not that the positions in the platform are wrong, it’s that the emphasis is wrong.

Wrong in that it spends an inordinate amount of time on an issue that Oregon can’t solve – abortion. And wrong in not identifying economic health as the key to job creation.

“The quality of life revered by Oregonians begins with a job. A job affords every Oregonian the dignity and independence they are due. Every decision by government should begin and end with its effect on the creation, preservation and growth of employment in Oregon.

“That’s it. That’s the message.”

The Oregon State Republican Party met several weeks later and adopted a new and improved platform that focused on improving Oregon’s economic climate and job creation. I don’t kid myself that I had anything to do with that change. Rather it is simply a reflection of a new Republican leadership focused on the critical issues facing Oregon. And the people of Central Oregon are in the vanguard of that new focus.

I went on to note that those who had lost their jobs during the recession, those who have subsequently entered the workforce without prospects for a job and those chronically unemployed in Oregon were not focused on abortion, homosexuality or the potential revenue shortfalls to fund state government but whether they could find a job in the foreseeable future:

“And their focus should be your focus – if not singularly, at the very least in priority.

“Your proposals and the explanation of your proposals should be framed in context of job creation and the importance of job creation.

While you and I know that tax cuts inevitably lead to economic stimulation and thus job growth, that connection is lost on many.

“Simply supporting tax cuts allows your opponents to define you as supporting the rich and the underlying issue is thus lost in the sneer of class envy.

“In contrast discussing the overwhelming job loss in Oregon and what it takes to create a job allows you to command the issue and the solution. Let me try an approach.

“The Republican Party could say:

“We support job growth. We oppose efforts by the government to reduce available capital for job creation.

“Every job requires the start of a new business or the expansion of an existing business. It doesn’t make any difference if the business is that of an electrician or computer chipmaker. Let me repeat: Every job requires the start of a new business or the expansion of an existing business.

To start a new business, even a one-man business, you must have money – capital – to pay for tools, or parts, or a place of business, or any of the myriad of other elements necessary to conduct a business. Without capital a business cannot begin, it cannot expand, it cannot survive.

Capital is created when income exceeds expenses. Taxes and government fees are one of the largest expenses encountered by every business – even one-man businesses. When taxes and government fees are increased capital availability is reduced. When measures 66 and 67 were passed, the government removed about three-quarters of a billion dollars annually from capital availability. Without that capital, businesses were unable to expand and create jobs. In some instances, without that capital businesses were unable to sustain and existing jobs were lost, and in more and more instances, without that capital new business and the jobs that go with them cannot begin.”

In the normal course of business I would suggest that Mr. Esteve’s article is in error because it focuses on politicians and elections as the source of economic growth. Nothing could be further from the truth. While government cannot create economic expansion and job growth, it certainly can retard it and Oregon state government has nearly a twenty-five year history of doing so.

But in this instance Mr. Esteve notes that the business leaders in Central Oregon are not looking for a government solution. Rather they are looking for government to get out of the way – no more tax increases, no more increased land use restrictions, and no more smothering business regulations.

So there it is folks – the dreams of a better tomorrow from Central Oregon or the crushing reality of a bleak Portland, besotted with filthy streets, panhandling homeless, and an overbearing government as the prime mover of every aspect of life.