Oregon Continues Its Drift Towards Socialism

One of the best things about democracy is that the voters get to choose the type of government they prefer and based on that you would assume that Oregon has moved to the far left wing of the Democrat Party – a tribute to woke progressiveness. Once again the Democrats swept the elections for statewide offices, including governor, attorney general, heavy majorities in both houses of the legislature, the United States senator and four out of the six representatives to Congress. Former Governor Kate Brown (D) added to that staggering majority by appointing every single one of the members of the Supreme Court – all of whom passed her far left preferences.

One of the worst things about democracy is that those who pay for the type of government preferred by the woke progressives have absolutely no say in the election process – after all they are in the distinct minority. And I don’t mean Republicans; I mean taxpayers as opposed to tax recipients. Or better said by a friend of mine in Oregon: “There are more people riding in the wagon than pulling the wagon.”

The government always does a great job of clouding the facts but I’m going to try to make the point and you will just have to understand that access to pertinent facts and the form in which they are presented is at the discretion of the government. And by “the government” I mean the public employees charged with gathering and cataloging the information. So here goes.

According to the Census Bureau there are about 4.25 million people in Oregon as of 2022. The civilian workforce in Oregon according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is just under 2,198,000 in November of 2022. But the civilian workforce figure* includes not only those working – 2,102,000 – but also those receiving unemployment benefits – 96,700 – a form of welfare. However, the critical number for these purposes is that which describes those “capable of work” – the labor force participation rate, which was 63.5 percent. Based on simple algebra, that means that the total available workforce is not 2,198,000 rather it is 3,461,000. That also means means of those Oregonians of working age and physically and mentally capable of work (excluding those in the military and those providing care for their children) 36.5 percent, or 1,263,400, were not working and presumably receiving some form of welfare (or living in their mother’s basement). Add to that the 96,700 current receiving government assistance in the form of unemployment insurance payments and you have a grand total of 1,360,000 or 39.3 percent of the 3,461,000 Oregonians not working.

But that isn’t the purpose of this column. What we are exploring is the number of Oregonians capable of working who are dependent in whole or in part on the government for their incomes. The reason that this is important is that the move towards a socialist state or a welfare state starts with people dependent on the government and thus subject to the need to preserve their flow of income by supporting those who believe in large, intrusive, overwhelming government, including generous welfare payments – government that has the power and the purpose of maintaining and growing its primacy.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of November of 2022, there were 300,100 people employed by government** – state, county, and municipal government. That does not include members of the military. Add that to the previous number, and the figure for those dependent in whole or in part on the government is now forty-eight percent of Oregonians available to work.

Next, we have to look at those engaged in public education*** – the teachers unions. The Bureau of Labor Statics couples these numbers with Healthcare Workers for a total of 314,300. Another report from state government indicates there are about 180,000 healthcare workers in Oregon, leaving those engaged in public education at about 134,300 – these do not include those engaged in private education. That means that those dependent in whole in part on the government increases to 1,794,400 or 52.8 percent of Oregonians available to work.

It actually gets worse. These figures do not include social workers or healthcare workers employed by government agencies and all of their attendant administrative staff who spend the majority of their time creating, filing and analyzing reports required by the government. There is no way to parse their numbers from the cumulative categories. Nor do these figures include those receiving pension payments from state, county, municipal and public schools.

In conclusion over half of Oregon’s work eligible population is currently dependent in whole or in part on the government for their incomes. As noted above this means that there is a strong incentive by those people to maintain and grow government and to support those who believe in big, intrusive government. We call them Democrats.


*A curious thing about those November figures is that while Oregon’s population declined year over year, the number of people receiving unemployment compensation increased and the labor force decreased. That might suggest that those leaving Oregon are a part of those providing revenue to the government rather than those dependent on the government. Who would have guessed?

**These figures do include members of the military. The vast majority of these people (excluding first responders) do not directly contribute to the economic well being of the country rather they are a drain on the economy – particularly those engaged in requiring, gathering, tabulating and analyzing information required by the government of private citizens and businesses.

***Based on the rapid declining educational achievement of those enrolled in public education, coupled with the actions of the public employees unions representing public school workers to close Oregon’s primary and secondary schools, you would be justified that, like other government workers, these workers do not contribute to the economic well being of the country rather they are a drain on the economy. I don’t believe that is applicable to all teachers in the public schools but it certainly it is to those supporting their unions.