Monday in testimony for $15 an hour minimum wage one testifier said "we need industrial jobs instead of just service positions"!
Let me see - I am old enough to remember when we had mills on practically every corner of our communities across this state. The huge "environmental" push 20-30 years ago destroyed those jobs and pushed all of this state towards service positions. "Tourism" is the key - we can all work at tourism and everything will be fine.
When the environmentalists stopped most of the cutting of timber in the State of Oregon - and the Pacific Northwest -that process began a series of events which brings us to the situation we have today.
Yes we have a huge number of service oriented jobs which simply do not pay wages that equal the pay scale of industrial jobs. That is a fact - but raising the minimum wage for service positions because we do not have industrial paying jobs is not the answer.
In 1970 I worked in a mill pulling veneer green chain working my way through college. I received $3.74 per hour. With inflation that $3.74 equates to $22.49 in today's dollars.
I like to relate this to baseball - one of my passions. The team has a 400 hitter and a 200 hitter. The team benches the 400 hitter and plays the 200 hitter - suppose they are going to win any games - probably not. That is just what happened with Oregon - and rural Oregon in particular when the higher paying timber and manufacturing jobs disappeared and were all replaced with service/retail positions.
It is time for Oregon to have a real conversation as to what is happening in this state. Oregonians have been pushed into service oriented jobs - which by nature are lower paying jobs. It is probably past time to have the discussion about industry in the State of Oregon, opening our forests - which are a renewable resource - to updated methods of harvesting and replanting
Oregon needs to address the land use laws - which are some of the worst across the United States. Let's look at changing what have become very complex land use laws so industry feels welcome to come to this state and allow companies to be able to re-establish within a reasonable amount of time - 5-10 years is not reasonable.
We need to re-evaluate the particulate levels allowed in areas like Jackson County so something more than a McDonald's or Burger King can be built.
Just to clarify I am not suggesting that we do away with land use, environmental regulations or particulate levels - but should we re-examine - YES.
One other issue I would like to comment on. If raising the minimum wage makes such a huge difference in the economy then why isn't Oregon at the top of the list? We have one of the highest minimum wages in the nation - $9.25 as of this last January. So why do we still have the large numbers of people on public assistance? Why do the testimonies all address poverty in Oregon? What has happened to competition for jobs in Oregon? What is happening in the segment that hires and utilizes minimum wage workers? If raising the minimum wage is the answer then why are we having this conversation - Oregon already pays one of the top minimum wages in the nation.
There is also the conversation regarding the fact that minimum wage positions were and are designed for entry level positions. Entry level positions are just that and are not meant to be long term positions - an individual enters into the workplace in an "entry level" position and is supposed to work their way up - or even out! If you are worth more than minimum wage and can show that to an employer you will get paid more or you can choose to change jobs. This is America - at least it was when I began this article.
Here is a link to a recent article regarding Civics in our schools. Governing
Just observing - do you watch the Floor Sessions?