Here’s some stuff you might like.
Business: Let’s try a multiple choice question. Bend has the fourth highest concentration by population of which of the following, compared to other U.S. cities:
a. Ford Raptor pickup trucks
b. Blockbuster video stores
c. Puffy jackets
d. Dudes with tattoos of evergreen trees on their forearms and/or calves
e. AirBnB rental units
f. a, b, c and d
If you answered a, b, c, d or f you’re wrong because we’re number 1 in all of those (or at least we are with b and I can’t imagine anyplace has more of a, c and d). If you answered “e” you’re correct – Bend has 1,658 AirBnB vacation rental listings per 50,000 residents, the fourth highest concentration in the U.S.
Law: A Linn County jury has awarded thirteen counties and 150 additional taxing districts (like school districts etc.) $1.1 billion in damages in the districts’ breach of contract claim against the State of Oregon. The districts contended that they transferred timberland to the state in 1941 in exchange for a promise that the state would maximize timber harvest value on the land, a portion of which would be paid to the districts. State forestry practice changed in the late-90s to prioritize environmental and recreational uses, and timber revenues fell. The state has indicated it may appeal the judgment.
The amount of the verdict is shocking: Tillamook County, one of the plaintiffs, alone stands to receive $330 million if the verdict is upheld, nearly $13,000 per resident. Now let me really blow your mind. That $1.1 billion – only these particular taxing districts’ share of revenue derived from a subset of state-managed forest land – represents only a tiny fraction of the economic harm experienced by rural Oregonians due to changes in state and federal timber policies since the 1990s.
If anyone has seen actual estimates, I’d be interested in seeing them. I’d wager, though, that the total economic loss due to reduced timber harvests to taxing districts, state government, the federal government, private businesses and families located in rural Oregon must rank among the largest economic disruptions caused in material part or in whole by government policy in the history of the United States, other than war.
That’s not to say I think public lands policy should be solely focused on timber harvests. It’s also not to say that there have not been economic benefits from a more diverse public lands policy, but it is a reminder of the enormous scale of economic and social trauma experienced by recent generations of rural Oregonians. Entire communities have been hollowed out, all across the state. State and federal timber policy changes played a big (not the only, but big) role in causing that. The verdict in the taxing districts’ lawsuit is a reminder of the cost to Oregonians of swinging the balance of of land management too far away from sustainable timber harvests.
Politics: In peacetime and with a relatively robust economy, our federal government has spent in 2019 nearly $1 trillion more than it’s taken in. The path of growth of our federal debt is unsustainable and we are saddling our kids and grandkids with the bill for our extravagance. This scenario can’t continue and will end either in a manner of our choosing or in a manner of our creditors’ choosing. The former would be preferable.
Et cetera: We’re in Portland visiting friends for the weekend and we’re probably going to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville on Saturday because we like big planes. We’re not doing the water park, just the museum. If you’ve been and have any tips relevant to two families of harried parents and their kids between three and five years old, let me know!
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Have a great weekend!