Idaho Democrats: Economy includes entire business environment

by Judy Ferro

When pollsters ask people which party they believe is best in certain subjects, Democrats score high on education and low on economy.

                That’s baffled me since Democratic administrations result in lower deficits and more growth in private sector jobs growth than Republican ones.   

                I think I’ve figured out why though. When Democrats address the economy, they don’t talk about taxes and tax credits, but about entire business environment—education, health, infrastructure, stability, etc.    

                Consider these statements from candidate websites.

                “Idaho’s economy needs workers who are well-trained, and who aren’t burdened by crushing student loan debt. Idaho’s workers need the quality jobs that come from being highly trained,” James Piotrowski, candidate for U.S. Representative from Idaho’s First District.

                “But profitability does not come from pinching pennies and limiting benefits. Profitability is driven by productivity. Workers are more productive when they aren’t discouraged by poverty, when they are valued and respected, and when they believe that tomorrow can and will be better,” Jerry Sturgill, candidate for U.S. Senate.

Both Piotrowski and Sturgill see workers’ education and well-being as central to the health of Idaho’s business community. It’s not a surprising view for Piotrowsk, a lawyer who actively defends workers’ rights. Sturgill, however, was head of Stoel Rives’ Idaho corporate practice and has worked with Idaho businesses, large and small.

Similarly, the 2016 Democratic platform also emphasizes workers.

“We support job creation though Idaho’s traditional economic drivers, including sustainable agriculture, mining, timber and manufacturing while expanding industries such as technology, renewable energy, and tourism.” The plank (number 2) goes on to support modern telecommunications, public infrastructure, and fair banking, lending, and investment practices. Still, job creation is the first priority.

Plank 7, focuses entirely on support for workers and business people. It calls for equal pay for women, a higher minimum wage, and the end of “right-to-work.”

Voters in Republican states are especially conditioned to think of tax cuts and tax incentives as the backbone of economic policy. Unfortunately, cuts have set up a competition among states. Even though Idaho business taxes are among the lowest in the nation, many Republicans push for more cuts every year.

Ironically, these cuts have not been found to improve the economy overall. In fact, they make it less likely states can provide the services businesses need for their operations and recruitment.

Think how different it would be if states competed in the things that really do make a difference—education aligned with business needs, strong infrastructure, and vibrant communities. Instead of racing one another to the bottom, we could all be reaching for the top.

I can sense Republicans out there wailing that these things cost and will drive up taxes. The truth is, these things cost and will create profits and tax revenue.

It’s called investing. If companies lack the vision and courage to pay up front for worker training, equipment, and plant facilities, businesses don’t grow. Similarly, states create thriving economies by investing in education, infrastructure, and community development.

Idaho still hasn’t recovered from cutting education by over 20% to fund tax cuts in 2009 and 2010. Investment in higher education, essential in driving innovation and advancing skills, still hasn’t recovered. Ironically, small Idaho businesses ended up paying both higher Federal unemployment taxes and local school taxes.

If you look at states with average wages at or below Idaho’s, you’ll see many citizens smugly proud of their Republican governors and legislators holding the line on spending—while relying on Federal subsidies paid for by those in Democratic states.

Democrats: Carrying on for our Founding Fathers

by Judy Ferro

Liberal. Liberal. Liberal.

Does the word scare you? Repulse you?

Republicans have a tendency to dismiss any policy or political figure they disagree with as “liberal.”   It often works—even when the majority of Idahoans agree with the policy in question.

Well, Idaho Democrats have supposedly adopted the “most liberal platform” ever. I honestly don’t see that it differs much from the 2014 or 2012 platforms.

So what “liberal” planks does this platform contain?

Let’s look at number one. Idaho Democrats Demand Equality and Respect for all Idahoans.        Scary, huh? A similar declaration once triggered a great revolution: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our Founding Fathers created the first modern nation founded on this basic principle of democracy. They succeeded in advancing equality and in inspiring decades of Americans to continue the fight. Don’t underestimate the efforts it took to end slavery and extend voting rights to women and those without property.

Liberals continue to champion equal rights. More from plank one: All people must be treated equally regardless of race, ethnicity, color, religion, sex, national origin, immigration status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or age.

That’s a tough list. Humans have a tendency to favor and defend their tribe—those they identify with—against others.

But when it sounds impossible, when it seems that transsexuals or Moslems or immigrants are just too different, I look back at the progress made in my lifetime and know that these attitudes will change. Most young people today can’t imagine a world when Italians and Irish were assumed to be drunken libertines and Catholics and Protestants blew up one another’s gathering places. If it weren’t for history books, they wouldn’t know that Blacks had been lynched for registering to vote and laws prevented intermarriage between races.

When I was growing up here, public schools didn’t serve students who were deaf or blind. Mentally challenged children were hidden from sight. Mexicans were banned from many downtown businesses, and Mexican kids appeared in town but not in school.

I didn’t see women doctors or lawyers, carpenters or electricians either.

When I was in college, one of our fraternities was kicked out of its national for accepting two Jewish members. When my daughter was in college, she introduced me to a Black student she was supporting for chair of the Greek Council with the words, “And, Mom, he’s only a sophomore.” That was more remarkable to her than that a Black young man had supporters in fraternities and sororities across her campus. (He was elected.)

In my lifetime, I’ve seen the first Catholic president, the first divorced president, and the first Black president. I hope to live long enough to see the first woman president and, perhaps, the first Jewish president.

I know it’s easy to wish the world were simple, that men were men and women were women, and that people around the world had peace and opportunity and could stay where they are.

But it’s not.

We must seek to bring justice, fairness, and opportunity to the people who are in our world, not just the ones we wish to include.

More from plank one: Diversity is essential to the well-being of a democratic society.

Have a happy Fourth of July—and give thanks that our Founding Fathers were the radical liberals of their day!