Let’s not be glib about dams – they help power Washington’s economy

Washington state’s dams, power-producing and not, have been much in the news lately. A WSU study suggests that dams are not as carbon-neutral as we might assume, because reservoirs produce methane – at least initially. A judge says the federal government must consider breaching dams on the lower Snake River as one of the options […]

The problem of the working-age non-workers

This week Jon Talton, who could be fairly described as the left-of-center business columnist for the Seattle Times, highlighted some interesting stats on our state’s economy from Pew’s “The Fiscal 50” report. One piece of good news from the report for Washington: Our pension liabilities are comparatively not awful. Not-so-good is Washington’s percentage of working-age […]

Sawant’s attacks on minimum wage study are purely political

In the 2015 book Superforecasting, Dr. Philip Tetlock explored humans’ ability to predict future events (e.g., the price of oil, Russian military excursions, which cities ISIS would seize) and why some people are better forecasters than others. His research makes clear that people who are more ideological aren’t as good at crafting accurate forecasts. In […]

Do we care about teen employment?

I’ve mentioned to you before my first real job as a teenager and what it meant for me. It was nothing ground-breaking, just the usual burger-flipping job at McDonald’s. But that’s not to say it wasn’t important. I learned a lot there: Showing up on time, working with others, monitoring several tasks at once, having […]

Billions added to Washington water bills, but what did we buy for it?

The state Dept. of Ecology is moving ahead with new water quality standards, based in part on the convoluted “fish consumption rate” that we’ve discussed on SGW before. It’s a complicated topic, so first, a compliment. The Skagit Valley Herald’s recent coverage of this issue was highly readable, organized, and fact-based. It’s the opposite of […]

Obama spikes the deficit on his way out the door

The Wall Street Journal writes that President Obama is leaving a “parting gift” as he wraps up his second term: a 35% increase in the federal deficit this year. Some gift. The Journal explains the numbers: “For the 2016 fiscal year that ends next month, CBO now forecasts that revenues will rise by only $26 […]

Many licensing rules exist only to block competition and raise prices

Long-overdue attention is finally being paid to work rules and occupational licensing schemes that serve little purpose beyond being a barrier. Here is a great example of those hard-to-justify rules from Lens: “Jerry Schmidt files horse teeth at his farm near Port Angeles, Washington for a fraction of a veterinarian’s cost. After a formal complaint […]

Stats on labor participation, U6 unemployment pose tough questions

The U.S. economy has officially been out of recession and in recovery for seven years now. By some measures, the economy is looking rosy. Nationally the “regular” unemployment rate stands at 4.7%. In the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metro area, it’s at 4.9%. Strong job and salary growth in computer tech and biotech have driven home prices in […]

The hypocrisy of attacking good refinery jobs

Oil is bad. Just ask the “kayaktivists” who steered their oil-based kayaks into Elliott Bay last year to protest a visiting Shell oil rig. Or the “Break Free” protestors who left their garbage behind in Anacortes two weeks ago. To some, anything that strikes back at the oil industry, refineries, gasoline-powered cars, etc., is justified. […]

Odd city initiative really part of state income tax push

On the surface, the new initiative in the City of Olympia looks like one of the many local initiatives groups have been pushing in this state. We’ve already seen the minimum wage battles in Seatac and Tacoma, the threat of one in Seattle, and public campaign financing ideas (at the statewide level, voters this fall […]