Our Views: Kent’s Attack on Private Sector Provides Reason to Be Wary

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Congressional aspirant Joe Kent appeared to side with Vladimir Putin on the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. He attracted a contingent of white nationalists from Idaho for a local town hall meeting when crossing with their leader after Kent had previously been engaging them. Kent has been forced to explain why he supported a socialist Democrat, Bernie Sanders, for president in 2020. Now, Kent has his sights set on a new target — private sector employers in Southwest Washington.

In a recent advertisement, Kent visited the site of a Clark County paper mill and lamented that the jobs were “offshored to China.”

Then the business owner wrote Kent a letter indicating that Kent’s claim isn’t the truth.   

Georgia-Pacific, owner of the Camas-based mill, requested the advertisement be removed for that reason.

“Our concern is that these statements, taken together, are not factual and give the impression that the entire Camas mill is shut down,” an attorney for the company wrote. “We currently have about 140 team members at our Camas mill who make paper towels for our away-from-home business (restaurants, stadiums, office buildings, etc.). A portion of the mill was shut down in 2017… and that was due to the ongoing decline in use of copy paper that has been occurring over the past several decades. The Camas mill continues to provide good paying jobs that support families.”

What should a candidate for office do when the plant owner says that the candidate’s ad isn’t true?

What would you do?

Here’s what Joe Kent did: Kent said he won’t take the ad down and instead turned the request into a fundraising campaign attempting to position himself as a fearless champion of domestic jobs.

Kent’s response sounds like a position socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders would take.    

Kent’s overall message can be condensed to this: “In Congress, I require American companies to keep factories open on full employment even if it no longer makes sense in the marketplace.”

Georgia-Pacific is doing what every business in our free market does: They are responding to consumer demand. If people suddenly demanded more copy paper, the company would no doubt hire more workers to produce copy paper.

Would Kent have the federal government force private companies to retain jobs even if that means an inefficient operation and the loss of revenue?

That is the opposite of freedom and a free market. 

And yet, we’re to believe he’s a conservative?

Kent doubled down on his confounding stance on Facebook later in the week, lamenting jobs lost “at the alter of profits.”

Besides the obvious spelling error, this is another talking point plucked straight from the Vermont senator he previously claimed to only have supported as part of a bizarre political strategy.

Think of all of the jobs planting corn that were lost on that “alter,” and the blacksmiths who made horseshoes. Or the stores that sold DVDs. Gone.

Kent’s “alter of profits” is a businessperson’s adapting to consumer demand.

Combined with his refusal to correct outright falsehoods in his advertisement, Kent’s demeanor toward the private sector in this case should make any conservative wary of his aspirations.