The bidness guys unload on Gregoire

Yesterday Gov. Chris Gregoire was in Clark County to visit with the bidness guys and gals, and the whaaaaambulance was screeching away full throttle. I’m sure someone in the room voted for her. Well, actually, I’m not sure about that, but it’s a theoretical possibility at least.

Like we’ve never heard this one before, but the first thing to do is blame the workers. From The Columbian:

Elie Kassab, president of Prestige Development, said he advertised in The Reflector last year to fill eight entry-level jobs and had 221 young applicants. “The biggest problem we have is the 50-cent minimum wage increase,” he said. The minimum wage, tied to the Consumer Price Index, jumped 48 cents to $8.55, the nation’s highest, on Jan. 1.

Yeah, I’m sure that extra $3.84 per hour to hire eight workers is killing him. You really can’t make this stuff up.

If blaming minimum wage workers isn’t your cup of tea, you could always blame environmental regulations:

Contractor Roy Frederick drew applause when he urged Gregoire to take another look at strict new state stormwater runoff rules that require builders to set aside more land for retention ponds.

“Tell your Department of Ecology to do a cost-benefit analysis on these stormwater regulations,” he said. “It’s a giant train wreck. It has stopped development in Clark County.”

I guess it had nothing to do with the housing bubble, securitization of mortgages or fraud in the house building, financing and selling sector, nor the continued credit crunch caused by zombie banks pocketing taxpayer money instead of lending. Nope, nothing at all.

The whining is not limited to our state, however. The house building industry is peeved over in Oregon as well. From The Oregonian:

Portland-area homebuilders say things are bad enough with the recession. Now they suspect members of the Metro council – elected officials who have much to say about how and where the area grows – are philosophically bent against them.

Tom Skaar, president of the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland, says council members think growth means “sprawl” – so he wrote in a letter to Metro Council President David Bragdon

Well, growth has historically meant sprawl, at least since the construction of the interstate highway system.

To be fair, construction and associated businesses are a valuable and needed part of any economy. There are, of course, good and decent builders, real estate agents, sellers of furniture and such who are being wiped out. This is bad, and it’s every bit as tragic as a factory worker or high-tech worker getting wiped out.

It seems not to have really sunk in among the developers, however, that things are unlikely to return to normal any time soon, and may not ever be quite the same. Clark County functioned for years as a safety valve for Oregon, absorbing huge population gains while providing sub-standard urban services in many respects. Many children attend school in portable classrooms, sidewalks go nowhere, parks go undeveloped and public safety services struggle for money.

The citizenry of Clark County has already paid for the bubble, through taxes and hidden costs such as traffic congestion and environmental challenges. We simply cannot afford to keep growing in the fashion we did the last 15 years or so. There’s no money left, anywhere. It’s vaporized, along with the fish.

So while it is in everyone’s interest to have economic recovery happen, and the construction sector should share in that, it’s going to take enormous sums of public money (and it already is, through the TARP and FDIC.) That means the interests of the community as a whole need to be taken into account, not just the pet peeves of bidness guys grinding the same far right axes they’ve been grinding for the last thirty years.

Times are tough for many people. Everyone deserves a seat at the table, but nobody should own the table.

Elections have consequences, you know.


  1. 2

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    You continue to shine your beacon of lunacy.
    You simply cannot grasp what it is like for SMALL BUSINESS PEOPLE to do business in Washington State today. You obviously do not want to understand…just blather about evil employers.
    Who in the hell creates jobs Jon?
    In your feeble mind, it’s the government.
    Good luck with that.

    Let’s see Jon..
    You hate Big Business and you hate Small Business.
    Atheist Progressive Socialism at it’s worst.

  2. 3

    proud leftist spews:

    Were you born an idiot or did you just grow up that way? Every interest group always goes to government with a claim that its particular circumstance is more dire than that of other interest groups and that remedial action is urgently needed. That’s just the way it is. It’s called human nature. Small business owners whine incessantly in Washington, not because conducting business here is any more difficult than conducting such elsewhere, but simply out of self-interest. I think I know a little bit more about the burdens facing small businesses in Washington than you do; I am an employer and partial owner of a small business in Washington. Are you?

  3. 4

    Blue John spews:

    #2, cynical, you speak in emotional conservative talking points, but are short on facts.
    Exactly where in Jon’s post did he say hates big and small business?
    Jon said that the biz members were whining about regulations. How does commenting on business trying to avoid complying with regulations equate to hating business?

  4. 5

    Mike spews:

    Cynical is an idiot. I’m a small business owner, and I start my entry level folks off at $10 an hour. Treating my employees with respect is the best way to keep good people around.

  5. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Whatsamatter with these whiney builders, aren’t they making enough to buy gas for their Hummers and pay for the license tabs on their kids’ Beemers?

  6. 7

    proud leftist spews:

    Exactly. We provide health insurance and pension benefits to our employees, though businesses our size typically do not. Fairness concerns impact productivity. Rabid market-deluded ideologues like Cynical do not understand that.

  7. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Taking Responsibility Dep’t

    Here’s another one from the Responsibility Society: In Bay City, Michigan, which right now is colder than a witch’s tit, and electric company cut off power to a 93-year-old man for nonpayment and he was frozen to death in his home a few days later. The electric company says it’s not at fault and blames the neighbors for not keeping an eye on him.

    What were the neighbors supposed to do? Rub sticks together to keep him warm?

  8. 9

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 Frankly, from the prices most small businesses charge me as a consumer, I don’t see why they can’t pay their employees $20 an hour. And I see a lot of Porsches parked behind the small businesses around here.

  9. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @3 “Were you born an idiot or did you just grow up that way?”

    You gotta limit your expectations with a cross between a fire hydrant and a goat.

  10. 11

    ArtFart spews:

    6 That’s just the point…Jon speculates on whether the bizfolk (most of ‘em, apparently, in the housing biz or joined at the hip to it) who were whining at Gregoire should expect things to “get back to normal”. Well, the last few years of milk-and-honey they’re now yearning for weren’t normal. Crooked banks were making fraudulent loans to apartment dwellers to move into condos they couldn’t afford, and to condo dwellers to move to houses they couldn’t afford, and to house dwellers to move to bigger houses they couldn’t afford…and the builders somehow think it’s their God-given right to expect this to go on forever.

    Well, sorry, guys…it ain’t gonna happen, and pissing and moaning about it to the gubmint ain’t gonna make it happen. In fact, one of the reasons it ain’t gonna happen is that your former buddies in the banking business went and got all the gubmint money and left your asses flapping in the breeze. So…deal with it. Sell the Hummers, cancel your country-club memberships and get used to eating at McDonald’s instead of Ruth’s Chris.

  11. 12

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    In other news, GOP congressman Phil Gingrey blasted Lush Flimflam for “throwing bricks.”

    “I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh … to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party.”

    Gingrey was incensed by Flimflam’s on-air comment hoping Obama fails.

  12. 13

    Blue John spews:

    One of the complaints business had is about the minimum wage
    Should a viable business plan include paying a living wage to all its employees?
    Should a business be considered viable if the only way it can exist is that it plays less than a living wage? If so, where is the cut off point?
    Should a business be considered viable if the only way it can exist is that it plays nothing to its employees? That it purchased slaves, pays them only enough food to survive on, and sells their organs to the highest bidder when the employer cannot get productive work out of them?
    Cynical and the other conservatives here, if you were in charge, would you allow such a business? After all, its capitalism distilled down to its essence.

  13. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    GOP Blocks Digital TV Extension

    A bill to extend the deadline for transition from analog to digital TV from next month to June, and provide additional funding for $40 converter box coupons, failed in the House today.

    Republicans were able to block it because it needed a two-thirds majority to pass (for reasons which aren’t clear to me).

    Three weeks from now, I will become one of the millions of Americans who will no longer be able to watch TV ads, because I’m not about to pay 60 bucks for a converter for my $20 TV from Goodwill.

    Sorry, Procter & Gamble, but from now on I’m gonna have to wash my clothes with baking soda. I’m gonna miss those “ring around the collar” ads.

  14. 15

    Blue John spews:

    And on the other end,
    One of the complaints business had is about the minimum wage
    Should a viable business plan include paying a living wage to all its employees?
    Let’s extrapolate out the upper end. Should a viable business plan require free housing, a gold plated medical plan, child care and 8 weeks of vacation and a 100% pension for when they retire at 45 for every worker?
    No. I don’t think so.
    At minimum, a full time worker should be paid enough that they can afford housing, get or be provided a basic medical service, have flexibility to cover child care as needed and have some time for vacation and be able to save something for retirement.
    Part time workers get a scaled percentage of that.
    Any company that cannot even pay minimum wage is not a viable company, and should be disbanded, in my opinion

  15. 16

    ByeByeGOP spews:

    NOTE: GOP had its chance Nov 4 to unseat CG. THEY FAILED! They were REJECTED. Rossi is a liar! Nobody cares. Get used to doing it the Dem way or hit the highway. We won’t miss you. Go to Mississippi or some other third world nation!

  16. 17

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @13 Businesses that pay less than a subsistence wage are being subsidized by taxpayers. Paying someone $8.55 an hour is like paying $5 a sheet for plywood — someone else has to be subsidizing it, because that’s less than cost.

    Well, it works the same way with labor as it does with materials (and other economic inputs). It costs money to work. Those who sell their labor have to make enough to pay their costs of staying alive. And when employers don’t pay that much, they get the difference from the government — in the form of housing subsidies, food stamps, transportation and daycare subsidies, Medicaid, and so on.

    Employers of minimum-wage workers are paying only half of their labor cost. Taxpayers are paying the other half. One has to question whether goods or services that can’t command enough in the marketplace to pay for their cost of production should be subsidized by taxpayers, because this creates economic distortions like misallocation of capital. There are also moral hazards in taking from those who pay their way to give a competitive advantage to those who don’t.

    The minimum wage should be set at the level of minimum subsistence. If a business can’t afford its labor costs without taxpayer subsidies, it shouldn’t be in business.

  17. 18

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @15 “Let’s extrapolate out the upper end. Should a viable business plan require free housing, a gold plated medical plan, child care and 8 weeks of vacation and a 100% pension for when they retire at 45 for every worker? No. I don’t think so.”

    Yes, if the workers add that much value, and it’s a lucrative business. When a business is makes tons of money because of the smarts and hard work of its employees, there’s no reason why management or shareholders should get it all.

  18. 19

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “There’s no money left, anywhere. It’s vaporized”

    There never was any money. People printed IOUs and passed them around like currency until someone suddenly realized IOUs aren’t money and don’t buy anything.

  19. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “Everyone deserves a seat at the table”

    Nope. Business feasted for years while workers got nothing. Now it’s workers’ turn to get the tax breaks, stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, food stamps, and whatever else government can provide.

  20. 21

    rhp6033 spews:

    RR @ 14: The GOP wants to force you to go out and buy a brand-new TV set, preferably a 40-inch plus wide-screen plasma TV made in Korea or China, so their business interests can get a cut of the profit as it passes by.

  21. 22

    ArtFart spews:

    20 It’s time for the ill-mannered whiny children to be told if they can’t behave at the grown-ups’ table they can darn well sit at the card table in the playroom.

    They can forget the little glasses of diluted wine, too…and no dessert unless they eat all their turkey.

  22. 23

    ArtFart spews:

    “Republicans were able to block it because it needed a two-thirds majority to pass (for reasons which aren’t clear to me).”

    Why that bill required a supermajority escapes me as well, but it gave the Republicans a chance to say, “Don’t you fuckers even think about breaking one of our filibusters.”

    So much for any fantasies about “bipartisanship”.

  23. 24

    spyder spews:

    You know things are going bad when China lays off 10 million workers, most of whom were barely earning any compensation. Flailing about to find someone, or something, to blame for one’s poor business choices in an economy that has been going in the toilet for a decade, doesn’t help anything. Today’s story out of the Davos is the UN report on unemployment: GENEVA: The global economic downturn could see 40 million more people lose their jobs by the end of the year, taking the unemployment rate to its highest in a decade, the U.N. labor agency said Wednesday. Some are forecasting a loss of up to 51 million jobs in 2009. Welcome to the 21st century.

  24. 25

    rhp6033 spews:

    Art’s got a good point @ 11. The whining from the developers didn’t stop when times were good. Instead, we got a littany of complaints about how terrible it is for them to do business in the state because of all those pesky regulations for such nonsense as ecology, etc. According to them, even two years ago, in the middle of one of the biggest construction booms this area has ever seen, it’s a wonder how they ever managed to make ends meet!!!!

    Of course, it’s not just the residents, consumers, employees, and fish that get screwed when business cries to Olympia. One of the favorite games is, and always has been, to screw the other businesses. The goal is to get the government to put obsticles into the path of your competitors (or potential competitors), but not yourself. They want the cost of new businesses entering your field to be impossibly high, but as low as possible for their own business. That’s why the Seattle Times thinks its a dandy idea to tax google and blogs for even thinking about anything to do with our state, but remain free from sales tax on their own dead-tree products forever.

    One little-known fact about the Nazis is that one of the first things they did when they gained power in Germany was to buy the patent for a specific type of bicycle reflector which attached to the pedals. Then the Nazis quickly pushed through a law which made bicycle reflectors mandatory, with specifications that only matched those covered under the patent it now owned. So one of the many sources of income which came directly to the Nazi party in the early days was, essentially, a tax on bicycles in the form of royalty payments on the reflectors.

  25. 27

    me spews:

    rhp – do you have a link about the reflectors? I am a history buff and would like to read about it. Thanks!!

  26. 28

    rhp6033 spews:

    me @ 27: I’ll have to look for it, it was a subject of discussion on one of the history discussion boards a few months back. It will take me some time to find it again.

  27. 29

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    “electric company cut off power to a 93-year-old man for nonpayment and he was frozen to death in his home a few days later.”

    Too bad you weren’t the guy it happened to.

  28. 31

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    Who in the hell creates jobs Jon?

    There is no economic theory that says businesses, small or otherwise, ‘create’ jobs. Actors respond to supply and demand. Highly competitive markets with many firms have low profit margins and many failures (job destruction?). If you observe something else, it’s not the classical free market described in your basic Econ 101 class.

    You, on the other hand, want the government to give small business more handouts. I don’t mind giving out subsidies if the social benefits warrant, but not economic rents.

    Let’s call it for what it is. Agreed?

  29. 33

    Puddybud, Hey it's the New Year... spews:

    Notice how Pelletizer@8 only tells part of the story. You can always know when Pelletizer stops at politics iiiiiiiiitttt’ssssss Donkey!

    Bay City Michigan Politics – Donkey 8 out of 9!

    Mayor of Bay City Charles Brunner-Donkey This fool gave that reprobate Madonna a key to the city in 2008.

    State Rep. Jeff Mayes Donkey-Bay City Chair of the House Energy and Technology Committee

    State Senator Jim Barcia Donkey-Bay City

    So why do Donkey hate old WWII veterans to freeze them out in winter?