The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Bags of hammers and the costs of doing business


December 13, 2017

You may have heard the story about the Washington State politician having dinner with someone in a restaurant high atop a building in Seattle. Gesturing toward the sprawling city beneath him, he said, “Every vote I need is down there.”

He didn’t pull out a map and outline the entire state. He was just saying that all the votes he needed to care about were right there within his sight.

I don’t know if this specific story is true, though it’s often repeated. I do know that the attitude is all too true. When it comes to treating all constituencies in the state on equal footing—small towns and big cities, huge corporations and small businesses—the Washington State Legislature seems to think it’s a hammer and every problem is the same kind of nail.

There is simply no other way to explain the laws the state allowed to come about that treat a little company in Klickitat County with less than two handfuls of employees the same as a firm in Seattle with 300 employees. I’m referring to the laws requiring all businesses in the state, irrespective of their size or financial capability, to pay the same rates for increasing employee raises and other benefits. Of course employees need fair and reasonable wages; that’s not the issue. But the Legislature, with its hammer-mind manner of handling this issue, can’t tell the difference between costs of living in the I-5 megalopolis and in rural towns, nor does it recognize the differences in resources for each company.

No wonder it has trouble dealing with the state’s finances so often.

One state away, in Oregon, businesses are expected to bear such brunts according to demography. Why that didn’t occur to the collective legislative body in Olympia is beyond reckoning.

Granted, some of these increases arose from inititiatives voted on by the public. But sane minds could have done some surgery on the law to make reasonable provisions.

Anyway. Where we are is where we are, and the changes are upon us. State businesses of every size will have to put up monies they didn’t have to before—the same for every size of business—to pay for the changes. And small businesses are getting hit very hard. A lot have closed; more will in coming months. And—huge news flash here—the extra money in people’s pockets is going to be lost paying more for things that used to cost less because prices will have to rise to cover those forced increased costs of doing business. Seems like no one saw that coming.

I wrote about this in last week’s newspaper in announcing an increase in the newsstand price of The Sentinel—the first such increase in nearly 10 years. I’m writing about it again to be sure everyone understands that the last thing we wanted to do was make this newspaper more expensive for our readers and that the move is forced on us, honestly for no other reason than that the state has made it necessary.

Our advertising remains steady—thank you, advertisers—and we will not raise our adverising rates at this time. A lot of them are small businesses struggling with this same issue. Our circulation has been rising steadily over the years, especially our online subscriptions, and it’s never been higher than it is today. For that, we are profoundly grateful to this community. We anticipate that our new newsstand rate of $1, beginning in January, will alleviate the financial pressure brought on by the new laws. And we recommit to providing highly professional news service to Goldendale and beyond. That includes no more making readers play “Where’s That Jump?” That’s an OK game for the living room but not helpful in professional journalism.

Thank you to you all for your kindness and understanding.


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