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DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER: The Cornerstone of Democracy: Facts

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The standard joke about poor employment opportunities is that a person will end up as a fry cook at a fast food joint. Bizarrely, with the acumen of a “Saturday Night Live” skit, that joke became a potential national paradigm as president-elect Donald Trump selected Andy Pudzer as his potential Secretary of Labor. Pudzer is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which includes Carl’s Jr.

Trump justified the selection as explaining that Pudzer has “created thousands of jobs.”

But are those the quality jobs that can buoy a 21st century economy that is increasingly based more on critical-thought skills and entrepreneurial spirit than assemble line meniality? What’s more, Pudzer’s calling card is his opposition to raising the minimum wage, a direct affront to the lowest-paid workers in America and to national trends. Last year, the State of Oregon raised the minimum wage to $9.75 an hour, with steps up each subsequent July until it reaches $14.75 in 2022.

As the drama has unfolded in the weeks since Election Day, the reality has become more clear about how Trump’s presidency can and may affect southern Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest region. Of course, the debate over minimum wage threatens the working-class in southern Oregon, already a demographic that is suffering majorly. Oregon had been make important steps towards supporting workers, but now that policy and attitude is at odds with the national protocols—as it will likely be at odds on a number of issues, like legalized marijuana and environmental policies.

Although the minimum wage debate may be more academic than reality, as states have the ability to set their own minimum wages, other issues will be more directly threatened. Think back 15 years, when President George W. Bush stepped into office, and brought the uber-morally-conservative John Ashcroft into the Attorney General office. Ashcroft devoted a five year battle to stopping Oregon’s Death-With-Dignity Act. (He failed, but the issue went to the Supreme Court.)

Trump’s proposed cabinet members threaten similar affronts to laws, values and attitudes many Oregonians hold dear: The environment is another front on which the region most likely will clash with the Trump. With Scott Pruitt, the Attorney General from Oklahoma, to head the EPA is, as the Sierra Club pointed out, is like sending an arsonist to fight forest fires. Among other concerns, foremost, he doesn’t believe in global warming, which is about as smart as debating whether the world is flat.

But what is fundamentally concerning is Trump’s loose and reckless account of facts. It is difficult to keep up a reasonable conversation about Trump because his only consistency is that he consistently is scatter-shooting tweets all over the place, and tweets full of non-truths. The only thing precise about his tweeting is that he chooses specific targets; that is, he willy-nilly singles out victims and allies.

The most wonderful example is the attention to America’s manufacturing sector. A lot has been made about his effort to “save” 1200 jobs in Indiana, but a week later, Trump shot off a tweet that he didn’t believe that the government should honor its contract with Boeing for $4 billion to build Air Force One, a number he simply invented.

What’s most concerning about a tweet like that is that, while saying he will protect U.S. manufacturing jobs, Trump maligned Boeing, one of the most important industrial manufacturers in the county, a company that helped build the Seattle-area’s economy in the mid-century and has continued to be a steadfast employer—with 160,000 employees, a number that dwarfs the hundreds of jobs Trump “saved” in Indiana. Like saving a gnat to kill an elephant, Trump’s lack of understanding of the facts leads him to pick the wrong battles.  

Ultimately, Boeing is a tricky corporation to discuss because their jobs—executive to manufacturing—are spread over several cities. But the fact remains that Boeing is enormously important to the U.S. economy and job creations; in dollar value, it is the largest exporter located in America. When sales declined for Boeing in the early 70s, the impact was so immense that subsequently unemployment climbed to 14 percent in the city—the highest in the country at that point—and the exodus from the city was so great that U-Haul ran out of trailers.  

Really, Mr. Trump, that is who you want to pick a fight with? That’s who you want to insult? Towards what end?

Regardless of whether policies are Republican or Democrat, the only true way they can bring us—our country, our state, our region—to a “greater” place is when they are based in fact, not make-believe.  

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