Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is many things, a well-educated woman, a lawyer and, most of all, a career politician.
What she isn’t is much of a businesswoman. If she were, she’d understand the silliness of her desire to hold rural areas in the state harmless in supporting a new, higher minimum wage for Oregon workers in the next few days. Small businesses, she says, must be sheltered from harm.
Even a tiered wage increase, the proposal currently most likely to succeed, will be tough on workers and businesses across the state.
Businesses, large and small, do not come equipped with unlimited amounts of disposable income, for one thing. If an employer currently spends 60 percent of his income on salaries, he may not be able to bump that up to 70 percent and continue to make a profit. His only choice at that point is to get rid of someone or several someones to bring employment expenses back into line.
And who’s likely to lose?
The man or the woman at the bottom, the one with the least education, the fewest skills and, most likely, the least time on the job. Other workers, meanwhile, will have to pick up the slack or, if the businessman can do so, a machine will be purchased to replace not just one but several workers.
Tell us how that helps Oregon’s small businesses and its rural economy.
Oregon does have a wage problem — don’t misunderstand. But the kind of help business needs — and, after all, it’s business that produces jobs in the first place — is the kind that makes it easier, not more difficult, to thrive. It needs fewer, not more, rules sent down from Salem telling owners how they must do this and that. It needs more freedom to move, to build and to set up shop where doing so works best.
Gov. Brown just doesn’t get it. Her short career as a family law practitioner, her time as a college professor and her years in politics may have taught her many things, but they certainly haven’t taught her anything about running a successful — by definition, profitable — business.