I’m a little nervous here, a little distracted. But don’t worry, I’ll cover the slug-like inactivity of the Oregon Legislature in a moment.
Frankly, a bigger issue looms at the moment. We may be headed for a global theological/scientific Mongolian clusterfluck — not to be confused with climate change or global warming or the Sixth Great Extinction. This is much seriouser! I can see the donnybrook coming.
Apparently this Jesuit Pope Francis guy, who refused to live in the Vatican because it was too lavish for gosh sakes, issued one of them papal encyclicals thingeys. Without warning or consultation with any members of the Flat Earth Society, Frankie just called out Art Robinson and the climate change deniers as unfreakinscientific! There was some tough rhetoric, some hard-ass trash-talking! Dear reader, do you grock how truly ironic it is that, in 2015, a Jesuit leader of the international Catholic community would start rope-a-doping corporations with a challenge to consumerism and capitalism using science as a rationale? RUFKM? Really? Remember 1611? Galileo and the Inquisition? What’s 400 years among friends? Now, apparently, the Jesuits like science. Who’da thunk?
Anyway, I understand that Art and his son Matt are considering a recall effort against the pope because Art happens to disagree with most rational people and he is, after all, a scientist, sorta. Worked with Linus Pauling, Nobel Prize winner, sorta. Art loves background radiation and has totally denied everything the pope just cited regarding human consumerism and its damaging effect on the planet and most importantly, its disproportionate effect on the planet’s poor. Apparently Art has his own backchannels to a god (not sure which one).
I have to say, I’m likin’ Pope Frankie. I’m 66, a secular humanist raised Catholic, and I’ve been through a few (seven) popes. My favorite was John the 23rd (1958-1963). He issued the encyclical Pacem in terris in 1963 on peace and nuclear disarmament. But the current Frankie is impressive. I have a statue of his namesake in my garden, St. Francis of Assisi, the Christian pantheist icon, the guy who could talk to animals. I’m actually worried that our current Frankie is so progressive that he’ll be taken out. After all, he’s taken on his own curia, the church’s ruling body, over alleged graft. But I’m not a conspiracy theorist.
All right, enough theosophy. Let’s switch from the sublime to the ridiculous — Salem and the Legislature. Watching these folks is like rooting for the U.S. soccer team in a 0-0 overtime game. Just when you thought our Public Employee Retirement System argument was settled, the Dems have now added a second PERS — the Private Employee Retirement System. They passed HB 2960, which requires private sector employers without retirement plans to create an automatic paycheck deduction to be placed in a fund managed by the state treasurer.
Employers wouldn’t be required to contribute, and workers could opt out if they desired; it simply creates a mechanism for workers to create a retirement plan if they wish. Next thing you know, those dadgum labor-lovin’ legislators will require paid sick leave by employers. Oh, excuse me, they already did that.
What the Legislature hasn’t done is create a transportation/infrastructure plan. Republicans want to address the carbon emissions bill again, but Democrats so far are refusing to go there. Meanwhile, the July 11 adjournment date gets closer and closer. And even though there has been some recent discussion of a compromise minimum wage increase, ramping it up over several years to $12 or $13 an hour, it’s pretty late in the game to move such a bill.
Democrats seem content to let the signature gathering begin on a popular minimum wage ballot measure for 2016. Republicans seem strangely unthreatened by such a move, unwilling to negotiate anything, even if their business allies would rather see a compromise.
For her part, Gov. Kate Brown could really use a transportation or infrastructure deal to help her 2016 gubernatorial bid. The odd timing of this out-of-cycle governor’s race, complete with a February 2016 legislative session, which will put the kibosh on any campaigning for a month or so, may be influencing the Republican legislative strategy of stall tactics — after all, we don’t even have a clue at this point who their candidate for governor will be. And there are legislators from both parties considering runs at other open seats, including the secretary of state. And, did I mention that it’s only 16 months until that election? Stay tuned.