Portland!? Portland is where losers go to become bigger losers!
This was the reaction of a 30’ something Portland expatriate upon learning that a friend was contemplating moving to Portland. Her parents were visiting us for Thanksgiving and relayed the consternation of their daughter.
But after the laughter died down, I got to thinking about the truth of the matter. Not in terms of denigrating Portland, but rather in terms of the opportunity the truth presented to those who live in Portland and want to work and advance in their chosen career.
As I noted in a recent column (Portland’s Homeless Problem – June 26, 2018):
As a result Portland has become a Mecca for the homeless. According to the United States Census Bureau the population of Portland increased from 632,187 to 647,805 between 2015 and 2017. That is an approximate 2.5% increase. During that same period of time the homeless population increased from 3801 to 4177 – an increase of nearly 10%. In point of fact it took Portland from 2011 to 2017 to approximate a 10% increase in general population while the homeless population was increasing from 2727 to 4177 – an increase of 53 percent. Basically, you can take any period of time during the last three decades and you will see that the homeless population in Portland increases at a dramatically faster rate than does the general population.
The result is that Portland has become a mess. It is overrun with the homeless, the professional beggars, street kids, prostitutes, druggies and the psychotics. The downtown on warm days smells like an outhouse. (For those of you forced to endure a teachers union led education in the Portland Public Schools, an outhouse is basically a porta potty without the deodorants.) On any given day you are likely to encounter one or more of this detritus urinating on a wall, defecating in one of the massive flower pots or regurgitating in the gutters. Some say that you haven’t “experienced” Portland until you have encountered one of Portland’s ignobled “first citizens” relieving him/herself.”
According to material prepared for the upcoming Oregon Leadership Summit, Oregon’s average annual income remains below the national average (92 percent) and slightly over 13 percent of households live at or below the poverty level. Well paying jobs in Manufacturing, Construction and Transportation have given way to more public employment and service industries (waiters, housemaids, cooks, cleaners, etc.) And yet Oregon continues to grow, which means that there are opportunities.
And that brings us to the purpose of this column. Despite Oregon being one of the best places in America, despite Portland once being one of the most pleasant cities in America, and despite Portland once being one of the best places to raise a family in relatively safety, Portland has a serious problem – drifters, grifters and disaffected young people. Their numbers grow at a rate that exceeds the overall population growth. Mobs, Antifa, Earth Liberation Front, anarchists and other anti-social groups – losers all – are fueled by the growth in these numbers.
There is an ethos in these groups to accept the complaints – real or imagined – of the disaffected and to thereafter embrace those complaints as part of the groupthink. If you don’t fit in, move to Portland and you will find one or more of these “street frats” that will embrace you and make your excuse for failure their excuse. This mutual embrace of the disaffected seems to be universal in large cities. But there is an extra element in Portland and that is that the politicians have adopted these losers as their model citizens. In politics you don’t have to have ability you just need votes. And in Portland, those politicians have learned that increases in the welfare state coupled with lax enforcement of the law has led to a significant loyalty from the disaffected for Portland’s far left liberal/progressives.
The result has been urban chaos where the streets are littered with the homeless, aggressive panhandlers, streets littered with urine, feces and vomit, prostitutes, chicken hawks, drug pushers and abusers, street gangs and political thugs from both the far left and the far right. So bad is the situation in Portland that the mayor has forced the police to stand by while street thugs like Antifa control the streets during urban clashes. It is an urban circus where there is little control and even in those rare circumstances where there are arrests, the miscreants are turned back out on to the streets by nightfall to rejoin the mayhem to the cheers of their friends.
But let’s understand that Portland has no more native losers than other cities. In fact the observation by Genevieve is that Portland is the place where losers GO to become bigger losers. It isn’t that Portland creates losers, it just approves of their conduct, encourages their conduct and increases their importance as losers. And therein lies opportunity.
A local businessman in Bend told my daughter when she was contemplating moving from Denver to Bend and was worried about finding a good job, “If you are willing to show up on time and work hard for the whole day you will never be without a job and great opportunities for advancement in Bend.” That advice has proven to be accurate for her and that same advice is equally applicable for Portland. If you are surrounded by slackers and losers, hard work and reliability will guarantee success in Portland’s private sector. While those qualities may be of limited importance should you choose to work for the government in Oregon in general and Portland in particular, they continue to be admired in business particularly small to medium size business uninterested in government favor.
There is no substitute for success and, with the exception of local government, there is no better way to achieve that success than hard work and reliability. So when we note that Portland is where losers go to become bigger losers, we should also note that that fact provides greater opportunity for those who will work hard.