November 10, 2008

Andrew Miller and Stimson Lumber interfere in the political process

Oregon defeated every one of Bill Sizemore's ballot measures, gave 52 per cent of our vote to Obama, elected Jeff Merkley to the US Senate and beat the Smith machine, elected Kate Brown as Secretary of State, elected John Kroger as Attorney General and elected Brad Avakian as Commissioner of BOLI (Labor). In other statewide races centrist and conservative Democrats beat Republicans in most cases. Up-and-coming progressives like Richard Riggs did relatively well even where they did not win, for the most part, and Democrats held on to most seats as well. Labor, women's organizations, conservation groups and Latino and African-American organizations united to get this done. Last week leading Republicans in Oregon again declared their party dead, despite the state's sometimes-lop-sided voting pattern.

Now Andrew Miller, president of Stimson Lumber, is saying in The Oregonian that "Democrats want to save everyone from the ups and downs of capitalism. You can't do that." Miller added that passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) will trigger a depression. He also gave Governor Gregoire in Washington a passing grade and the kind of back-handed compliment that she could probably do well without. Miller is clearly not reading the signs of the times.

Miller might be listening to Oregon Public Broadcasting or National Public Radio for his cues. Both networks seem keen on running blurbs from the American Enterprise Institute on the state of the economy without either questioning the point of view given or presenting an opposing point of view. It looks like the right is getting some help from the media in doing its economics.

The US unemployment rate is at a 14-year high right now and is expected to hit 8% or higher by the end of next year. The US has lost about 1.2 million jobs this year. Retail and hospitality sectors are in deep trouble and so are Ford and GM. Cities like Detroit and Philadelphia are announcing major cutbacks in services. Even Salem will be cutting Saturday bus service next year. Circuit City, Best Buy, Mervyn's and other leading big-box and mall stores are either announcing layoffs and closures or are going into bankruptcy.

And Miller thinks that EFCA will trigger a depression and feels confident enough in his politics and backing to announce this in The Oregonian.

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