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Opinion: Disagrees with COVID-19-related State mandates

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I hate to think that Governor Inslee is being vindictive towards individuals who are business owners, although it definitely does appear that way. However, my experience indicates it’s likely more a matter of GROSS IGNORANCE of the real world. They seem to have concluded that business owners are wealthy, greedy, dishonest and uncaring about their employees and customers. Therefore, they feel it’s OK to keep piling on the taxes, fees, rules and regulations – particularly labor regulations requiring business owners to literally adopt a problem employee to avoid a L&I penalty or “shakedown” lawsuit. They seem to think that business owners are those cute little people in the bank ads, whom they condescendingly label as “entrepreneurs.” They rarely mention that business owners are actually real people, with wives and husbands and children, all dependent on whatever scraps might be left over after everybody else takes their piece of the action.

If you divide the adult population between those who create wealth and those who consume or redistribute wealth, there is an accelerating and alarming increase in the numbers favoring consumption/redistribution. Consequently, the demand on wealth creators is becoming more and more onerous. There is also a growing divide between businesses that are owner-operated and those that are shareholder-owned, manager-operated “multi-nationals.” Control of the former is nearly always “local,” while control of the latter is a nebulous blob located in some far-flung domain (see: Intalco).

A few years ago, my wife and I attended a meeting in Everett, part of a state-wide series staged by the Association of Washington Business to provide a forum for small businesses. By the first break, we were both shocked to realize that, of the nearly 30 people in the room, there were less than five individuals who actually owned businesses. The rest were wealth consumers/redistributors, including association personnel, members of government, academics, lawyers, accountants, insurance agents, real estate agents, etc. Needless to say we ignored our next invoice for AWB membership renewal.

Inslee’s continued draconian and slap-dash lockdown and micro management of the men and women who own and operate these closed and restricted businesses is basically equivalent to sending a pair of thugs into their homes with baseball bats and spray paint to destroy their belongings. It would be far more productive to simply issue sensible, broad guidelines, which would allow owners, employees and customers to exercise their adult judgment relating to individual situations. All the money spent on bureaucrats sitting in cubicles writing rules could be much better directed into helping individuals innovate and implement procedures that work best for each unique situation.

A perfect example of business owners being callously mistreated by the bureaucratic lockdown when they should be being helped is the Bellingham Training and Tennis Club. The owners have worked tirelessly, and at great personal expense, to maintain employment and implement protocols that have made the club safer than being at home. Also, any fool could understand that the club’s programs and activities would actually improve participants’ physical and mental health rather than threaten. But now, after planning and marketing a complete lineup of fall and winter programs for both adults and children, they have again been slapped in the face by some new arbitrary rule designed in a cubicle by a highly paid government employee. And to make matters worse, the vagueness of the mandate means the owners’ hands are tied with regard to planning any marketing for several months.

I sincerely hope that mine and others voices will penetrate the very thick bureaucratic walls in Olympia and convince the Governor to consider treating his subjects as adults rather than foolish children incapable of making a rational decision.

Jim Pettinger

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