Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kitzhaber's "Jobs Plan"

John Kitzhaber is campaigning on what he calls his new economic vision for the state.

When I first clicked through to the link, I thought to myself: "Interesting. Kitzhaber is a government guy. He spent eight years drafting off of the Intel-created economic boom in Oregon to dramatically expand Oregon's government. If even HE is starting off his campaign by talking about jobs and the economy, then perhaps this will indeed be a different election cycle."

Silly me.

Go read the "plan.' The front page is titled "Jobs for today, jobs for tomorrow - A strategy for Oregon's economic prosperity." He spends precisely two paragraphs giving platitudes about the need for a robust Oregon economy, and then immediately reveals what he believes the whole purpose of the private sector is in the first place: "... to adequately support the public infrastructure on which stable, long term economic growth and prosperity depend."

He proceeds to go on for nine paragraphs about how our "public systems" were created in the 19th and 20th centuries and need to be "transformed" by "challeng[ing] the structures and assumptions of some of our most cherished programs," and "... jettisoning our current state budget process which is inadequate for the kind of transformational change we need; and replacing it with one based on transparent, long term performance-based investment allowing us to set clear priorities among the difficult fiscal choices which will define the next biennium."

This is the FRONT PAGE of his JOBS PLAN!

The 24 page plan itself is just a collection of the same kind of bromides we have heard forever from the central planning culture in Oregon. All the usual genuflections to "family-wage jobs," "energy efficiency" (through subsidies for inefficient energy projects, of course) and government training programs. There is nothing in this thinking that is remotely innovative or new. It is government focused, and even when he talks about natural resources, like forests, he can only imagine using them for "carbon sequestration" and "woody biomass" energy projects.

Perhaps most revealing is his section on how to "Create the Fundamental Conditions for Long-Term Job Creation and Prosperity." This is really the crux of the matter: how do we create the environment for a robust private sector?

According to Kitzhaber, this happens through public sector programs: re-thinking the delivery of education, restructuring health care (even though he is the achitect of our current health care budget disaster,) "progressive land-use policies," and meeting our "goals of greenhouse gas reduction."

This is the kind of thing you get when a public sector guy tries to pretend he understands the private sector. It's like asking a fish to explain the sky. He can only think in terms of government.

Kitzhaber wants to pretend that this is "transformational" thinking, but in truth, there is nothing transformational about even the public sector elements of his plan. Oh sure, he calls for "ten year budgets," but that wouldn't transform anything - it would just calcify the status quo more deeply and increase the damage of any bad decision or incorrect planning assumption.

No, truth be told, for Kitzhaber, this is just a very poor attempt to pretend he actually understands and will be focused on the #1 issue everybody cares about right now, the economy.

He has that fatal conceit of many politicians - that we are no more clever than he. He assumes if he writes a big plan for economic prosperity, that we will be fooled into thinking he "gets it." He thinks we won't read it and immediately recognize that it is nothing more than the same old public sector stuff that got us in this mess in the first place.

Actually, he probably isn't being deceitful at all. Kitzhaber, I think, so badly misunderstands the private sector, wealth creation and economic vitality that he honestly believes this kind of thing is the prescription for prosperity.

And that is perhaps the scariest part of the whole plan.


Anonymous said...

I don't think you're giving Gov. Kitzhaber enough credit. He sees - and is doing everything possible to create - a future in which there is no private sector in Oregon. That is his real prescription.

rural resident said...

Anon 10:43 may be overstating the case, but only by a little. We need enough of a private sector to tax. Otherwise, Kitzhaber sees little use for it.

His last tenure was a catastrophe for rural Oregon. He did everything possible to ensure that economic development doesn't take place anywhere outside of the Willamette Valley--and he doesn't want to see much of it there. Families have been migrating from rural to urban Oregon for over a decade. Outside of the Portland to Eugene corridor, school districts have seen huge declines in their student populations. They've cut programs, then staff, then programs again, in a vicious cycle that has put many of them in a state of permanent decline.

He used every tool at his command to destroy the social structures necessary for a healthy, dynamic economy. The huge cadre of no-growthers loves this, of course, and he'll get their votes. However, anyone who wants to see a prosperous, vibrant Oregon should work hard to send him packing politically.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what I was thinking!

The worst part is that people like Kitzhaber actually believe this is a solution!

OregonGuy said...

What is especially sad is that this "program" for jobs will become the handbook for educators across the state.

Our kids will be told that these are the steps necessary to create future, sustainable jobs.

And why not?

They aren't working now. They won't be working then.

They'll graduate, though.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I read it. We are in trouble if this guy is once again governor. Thanks for writing about this, Rob.

Do others on the left actually read this stuff and think it is OK?

Anonymous said...

Kitzhaber is as much a jobs guy as is Metro or any other Oregon "Institution".

John Kitzhaber has absolutely NO leadership skills. He simply delegates all control to public employee union bureaucrats while "challening" everyone else to meet the "challenges" Oregon faces.

He's a real challenging guy.

Honest I've looked deep into his eyes at public hearings and there's nothing else there.

He's just a weird person who should have been a warehouseman or something.

Anonymous said...

I have looked across the table during Portland city council meetings and witnessed that same vacuity.

Kari Chisholm said...

He can only think in terms of government.

Um, Rob, you do understand that he's running for Governor, right?

In that role, he'll be the chief executive of the state government. We shouldn't be surprised that he's proposing stuff that the state government should do to help (including, in some cases, getting out of the way.)

It wouldn't make sense for him to propose things that private companies should do. ("Hey Nike, make some better basketball shoes! Hey Intel, have you considered making chips for cell phones?")

When Chris Dudley rolls out his detailed jobs plan, I expect he'll have very different prescriptions, but they'll also all be things that the state government should (or shouldn't) do.

Reasonable people can disagree about what the governor should be doing - but let's at least be clear on the job description: The governor runs the state government.

(Full disclosure: My firm built Kitzhaber's campaign website, but I speak only for myself.)

Conscience of a Moonbat said...

Um, Kari. Your disclosure carries little weight; you always beg the question, "Qui bono?"

Nice try on the straw man. Duh. The governor is the state's Chief Executive.

This is what it's about: Is it the role of the state's Chief Executive to do harm to the private sector? We all know where Progressives stand on that. The private sector is just your bitch. By pulling the straw man, you de facto admit it.

OregonGuy said...

Governor telling private industry what to produce...

"It wouldn't make sense for him to propose things that private companies should do."

Sure. And I agree. Except for sectors of the economy. Like energy. And resource extraction. You know, logging and fishing. Mining. And construction.

Yep. The "hands off" approach to private sector activity has been staggering in the last 16 years. As, I'm sure, would be another four under Kitz.

Brilliant analysis.

Anonymous said...

Progressives know that the private sector only exists because government allows it to.

That's why the government can dictate the terms and conditions under which the private sector operates. Everyone accepts that.

You act as if we are existing in a sea of liberty, with islands of regulation. When it's just the other way around. You have it backwards.

Conservatives are so asleep. Don't you realize we've been in a New Progressive Era for a long, long time? What is it going to take for you to see the light?

MAX Redline said...


Seems to be the new buzzword for the Left. Obama campaigned on it. Now that he's in office, everything goes on behind closed doors.

Not surprising that Kitz uses the term. Everyone at Metro is using it, too. Heck, about the only place where it isn't in vogue seems to be the City of Portland.

Of course, when the Mayor has been driving around shopping mall parking lots with his pants around his ankles, you don't need to talk about transparency so much.