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October 23, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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October 23, 2014

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Page A-6- Mason County Journal- Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014 GUEST COLUMN November election a referendum on jobs, wages ovember's election needs to be about the people who are unemployed or under- employed and how best to increase wages. It worked for Bill Clinton. "It's the economy, stupid" was coined by Clinton's cam- paign strategist James Car- ville in Clinton's successful 1992 presidential campaign against President George H.W. Bush. In March 1991, days af- ter the ground invasion to liberate Kuwait, 90 percent of Americans approved of President Bush's job performance. The following year when the economy soured and the president had to swal- low his campaign promise not to raise taxes, Americans' opinions turned sharply. By August 1992, 64 percent of Americans disapproved of Bush's job performance. So Americans often vote with their wallets in mind. If their bank accounts are drained and prospects for work are dim, incumbents are vulnerable - which brings us to November's elec- tion. The election this year might be con- sidered by pundits to be a prelude to the 2016 presidential ballot, but it is more than that. It is a referendum on jobs and wages. The good news is the state's unemployment rate dropped to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008, and 248,000 jobs were added in September. The bad news is the labor participation rate - the number of people actu- By DON BRUNELL ally working or looking for work - is at its lowest since 1978, when the U.S. economy was in a nose- dive. And it continues to slide. The number of peo- ple in the job market fell by 97,000 workers for the second month in a row. That means that the un- employment rate is dropping in part because millions of people have given up looking for work because they can't find a job. Ironical- ly, these people are no longer counted as unemployed. The other troubling news is aver- age hourly earnings declined, and in the past year, most workers barely received a 2 percent wage increase after inflation. "No wonder millions of American say they believe the econ- omy is still in recession, even though the downturn officially ended 64 months ago," The Wall Street Journal reported. Activists responded by pushing a $15 minimum wage. But low wages are caused by the bad economy. Arti- ficially hiking them won't solve any- thing; it will simply raise some peo- ple's pay and eliminate other people's jobs to pay for it. So Americans often vote with their wallets in mind. If their bank accounts are drained and prospects for work are dim, incumbents are vulnerable. A recent Rasmussen Report shows that 65 percent of voters now believe the nation is headed down the wrong track, up from 63 percent a year ago. Voters also take a dim view of our eco- nomic conditions. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: how Americans view current economic conditions and their perceptions of whether the economy is getting better or worse. In September, 20 percent said the economy is excel- lent or good, while 34 percent said it is poor. So what should voters ask the poli- ticians running for office this year? At the national level, Congress needs to pass pro-growth legislation and President Obama needs to sign it. Among the measures that can stimulate our economy, create jobs and drive up wages are regulatory relief, fixes to ObamaCare, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and tapping our vast domestic energy resources, which would lower energy costs and create thousands of high- paying jobs. In Washington state, Gev. Inslee and state lawmakers should focus on streamlining and reducing regula- tions, keeping costs of doing business reasonable, growing international trade and avoiding costly new state programs requiring higher taxes and fees. The Wall Street Journal sum- marized it best: "If nothing else, the policy bias would be toward measures that increase growth, [rather] than higher taxes and additional costs for business. And faster growth would go a long way to finally giving Americans a raise." Don C. BruneU is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently re- tired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state's oldest and largest business organization and now lives in Vancouver. He can be con- tacted at theBrunells@msn.com. LET-rERS cont. from page A-5 Shelton commissioners broke the law Editor, the Journal At a special commissioners' meeting four weeks ago, Shel: ton City Commissioner Mike Olsen threw verbal low blows at the Freedom Foundation when he attempted to justify his reasoning for breaking the law. He justified ignoring two initiative ideas brought before the commission because he says they were funded by bil- lionaire puppeteers who live thousands of miles away. He argued that these same bil- lionaires inherited their mon- ey and their parents founded anti-American groups. He also said that, if passed, these initiatives would, "cost us police coverage and cost us public safety." His speech did little more than take up time. The initiative ideas were written and published by the Freedom Foundation earlier this year. This summer, lo- cal volunteers went door to door and found more than 600 Shelton voters who supported these ideas. They were not funded or manipulated by billionaires living elsewhere. They did this on their own -- for free -- because they want to make a positive change in their local government. After the signatures were certified by the Mason County Auditor's Office, these ideas were presented to the Shelton commissioners. The initiatives contain two simple, common-sense ideas. First, they are asking the city to hold its collective- bargaining negotiations in the public view just as every other meeting is. Employees are the biggest cost in the city's operating budget, and it makes sense to negotiate these contracts in the open. It's good for both union members and taxpayers because both parties would then see how they are being represented. Second, Shelton residents are asking the city to give public employees a choice in the question of whether to join a labor union. Currently, employees are forced to join the union as a condition of their employment. This provi- sion would protect employees' right of association, and you'd be hard-pressed to find an idea more pro-American than that. Olsen did acknowledge that the initiatives were supported by signatures of voters, but he questioned why they didn't show up to testify. By raising this concern, Olsen was trying to deflect the public's attention away from his statutory duty. The local initiative law is unambigu- ous. Once enough signatures have been gathered and certi- fied, the commission has two -- and only two -- options. The first option is to pass the initiative ideas unaltered. The second option is to put them on the next election ballot and let the voters decide. The law requires only that enough signatures are certi- fied; it does not require that those people also testify. When all three commission- ers voted to do nothing with the initiatives, they defiantly broke the law. Regardless of whether you like the ideas or not, citizens should expect their elected officials to follow .the law. Otherwise, the right to initiative is merely a false promise. This is why Diane Good is suing the city and why the Freedom Foundation is proud- ly supporting her. It's hard to see how either a more transparent govern- ment, or giving city employees a right to choose will cost the city more money -- as Olsen asserts. The only thing that is going to cost the city more money is the lawsuits result- ing from the commissioners! decision to break the law. simply cannot afford to stay home. : All three candidates, Tim Sheldon, Drew MacEwen and Dan Griffey, are against Scott Roberts Citizen Action Network Director, Freedom Foundation Olympia Gender-roles talk, loopholes are concerning Editor, the Journal We saw the true colors of the 35th District Republican candidates at the Mason County League of Women Vot- ers forum Oct. 16. During Dan Griffeys open- ing statement, he expressed his desire for society to return to the days when morn and dad's roles were defined sepa- rately: Dad went to work and room stayed home. Griffey said this twice in the past week. Does Dan Griffey want to put women back "in their place"? Even if this attitude doesn't offend you, the fact of the matter is most women an increase in the minimum wage. During the forum on the 16th, Tim stated, in a mournful tone, that he was not a wealthy man. With Tim pulling in tax- payer salaries of approxi- mately $104,000 and $42,000 .... not including per diem of $90 a day in the Senate, I see his lack of support for an increase in workes wages all the more infuriating. Of course, mention closing tax loopholes for big busi- nesses and you would think the sky was falling. I offer you the following: I understand that the number of tax loopholes doubled from 333 in 1990 to 648 in 2013, and Big Business profits are at an all-time high. During this same period, average workers' household incomes have not increased and some have actually gone down, while the cost of living has gone up. You tell me who these candidates represent. I, for one, plan on voting for the real Democrats in this election. Sheri Staley Shelton Tired of Tim Sheldon in elected office Editor, the Journal I'm tired of Tim. I'm tired of Tim calling himself a .......... Democrat or an independent, whatever he thinks will keep him swilling at the public trough. I'm tired of the law- suits Tim's policies, or inat- tention, have saddled Mason County with as a commis- sioner. I'm tired of receiving mailings from Tim's wife and daughter who obviously want him to continue receiv- ing the various salaries and income (including Energy NW and other of his business interests) he now enjoys. I'm tired of Tim's casual attitude toward attendance at com- mission meetings. Who knew they were optional for com- missioners? I think Mr. Sheldon is a wealthy man who does not represent people who have to work for a living or who live on a fixed income/retire- ment. Some say he gets his campaign money from large, out-of-state corporate inter- ests and that is who he rep- resents. He has called it "good for business" to align himself with the big money, I guess in hopes that our small business- es will believe some of that "gold dust" will filter down to Railroad Avenue. In the meantime, he is feathering his own nest and basking in the power of prominent politics, (for example, his aligning himself with the Republicans last session -- a heck of a snafu.) The recent flier using Pho- toshopped bowling pins is churlish and an immature, new low in campaign hyper- bole. : He's had a long run, and now it's time for Tim to go. I'm tired of Tim and, I'm voting for Irene Bowling. Constance Simpson Shelton