Several years ago I wrote that the accumulation of wealth gives you mobility. It is a concept that Oregon’s dominant liberal/progressive political class has consistently failed to understand or address despite its effects being observable for nearly two decades. Of course, if you have spent your life working for or otherwise dependent on government for subsistence you would have little knowledge about how wealth is created and unfortunately even less interest. Those who ride in the wagon seldom are concerned about those who pull the wagon.
At that time I was focused on the abusive tax and spend practices of many states, including Oregon. For me the tax cost of living in Oregon had greatly exceeded its imagined “quality of life” and, therefore, I left. I didn’t leave anytime too soon because the tax burden in Oregon continued to rise unabated over the last decade and a half. (Oregon is one of the liberal/progressive states in the control of the public employees unions who have perfected the art of large tax increases by assuring the public that only a small percentage of the population would pay.)
But even at that I underestimated the relationship of wealth and mobility. The China virus pandemic (COVID-19) has demonstrated that it isn’t just tax policy that can drive mobility.
The Real Quality of Life
So much of commerce today is driven and transacted by computers and the internet that the concept of telecommuting – remote working – has become a reality. The introduction of the China virus and the concerns for social distancing in office space has driven a larger use and acceptance of remote working. Employers are learning to “resize” the workspaces at considerable savings and telecommuters are demonstrating an increase in productivity while benefiting from a more flexible works schedule. Many employers have indicated that telecommuting will continue even after the pandemic recedes – either in whole or in part. Employees still benefit from regular meetings both from the point of shared goals and the increased knowledge garnered casually from casual conversations but that does not require working cheek by jowl constantly with fellow employees.
With job retention no longer completely dependent on the location of the employer – or for that matter markets – employees are now able to test the real quality of life. (Quality of life begins with a good job and if it is portable the other factors involved in quality of life – health (including access to quality healthcare), education, climate, scenery, safety and governance (basic rights) take precedence,
For over 100 days this past summer, thugs and rioters controlled the streets of Portland after dark. There were nightly riots – burning, looting, physical abuse, and property destruction – and all without an effective police presence because the political class restricted their activities. Portland and other cities in the Willamette Valley have filled up with detritus of human kind -–drug addled beggars, homeless vagrants, street kids, prostitutes and pimps along with just plain thugs and felons preying on an unprotected public. Crime is up, murder is up, drug use is up and law and order is way down.
It isn’t just a recent phenomenon that can be linked the China virus pandemic. It has been building steadily under a series of incompetent but liberal/progressive mayors and governors – politicians who are more concerned about identity politics than personal safety, politicians who would rather legalize hard drugs than combat their effects, and politicians who know not how income and wealth are produced but are sure it is there for their taking. People in the Portland suburbs eschew downtown Portland originally because of its filth and now because of its lack of safety.
The same can be said of Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles – all dumping grounds for the liberal/progressive agenda (high taxes, poor education, poor transportation, a lack of public safety and a rising health crises triggered by an increasing migration of the homeless and the drug addled).
The Real Quality of Education.
Oregon was once renowned for its educational quality and ranked in the top tier of states in primary and secondary school achievement. But that was a long time ago – a time the predated the dominance of the teachers unions in determining the course of education at both a state and local level. Since the emergence of union control coupled with Democrat dominance of the Oregon legislature the educational quality in Oregon has declined steadily. Oregon’s KDRV reported in July of 2019:
SALEM, Ore. — For Oregonians familiar with the state’s ongoing educational woes, this information likely won’t come as a surprise — a recent study by personal finance site WalletHub comparing school systems in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia ranked Oregon among the worst in the country.
The Wallethub study compares school systems across a number of different categories, including performance, funding, safety, class size, and instructor qualifications.
Compared to the other 50 states and Washington, D.C., Oregon came in at #44 — squarely in the bottom ten school systems in the nation. It ranked almost equally low in both “quality” and “safety.”
A review of the Wallethub website reveals that Oregon ranks 47th in the dropout rate for Oregon’s secondary schools. It’s a mess no matter how you cut it.
Add to that the uncertainty of whether Oregon’s public schools will reopen and stay open for the foreseeable future. Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown (D), citing “the science” closed Oregon’s public schools in the Spring of 2020. Of course there was never any science to it. (In point of fact Oregon is now only one of two states remaining in a virtual “lockdown state.” Ms. Brown has demonstrated that she was neither prepared for the challenge of the China virus nor learned anything from the early data and scientific research into it. Ignorance usually results in retreat.) In fact what “science” is available suggests that next to your own private home, the school classroom is the safest place in America so long as they observe social distancing and other sanitary standards. School age children have a negligible mortality rate from COVID and school teachers are no more at risk in a classroom than they are shopping at the supermarket or attending a union meeting. It is the mortality rate, not the infection rate that is important. The American Council on Safety and Health summarized the effects of the China virus on children in a July 14, 2020 article:
“The risk to students of reopening schools is quite small. For instance, more young adults aged 15-24 will drown than die from coronavirus. The challenge for re-opening schools is the risk posed to teachers, staff, and students’ families.”
Oregon’s private schools have remained primarily open – at least since last Fall – and there is a decided lack of evidence that those schools have become “hotspots” or “triggering” events.
So, as a result of a deteriorating and uncertain education system, Oregon families can and are making a choice to migrate to better educational environments. That decision is made much easier when parents are able to maintain employment remotely.
The reasons for the new wave of migrations as noted above are real as is the migration itself. It isn’t just Washington, Oregon and California that are experiencing this migration. Some of it is so massive that it makes the pages of the financial news services including the Wall Street Journal. Headline stories have heralded the relocation of Tesla, Oracle and Hewlett-Packard from California. Boeing has left Washington, and financial services companies have been moving whole departments out of New York and New Jersey. And none of that accounts for the increasing individual choices being made by those who can work from anywhere – and are. What is common to these states is that they have been in control of liberal/progressives for decades and the policies and ineptitude of these liberal/progressives are singularly responsible for the environment they have created.
But here is the kicker. Many of the companies and many of those people who are leaving the states run into the ground by liberal/progressive politicians are responsible in part for the creation of the political climate that yielded these ill-informed and largely incompetent political leaders. It matters little whether they too were ill informed, fearful of being branded a racist, homophobe or sexist, or brought to tears by guilt for being successful, three decades of decay are their responsibility. They have assisted in ruining the state of their current residence and, unless they recognize their responsibility they will bring that same ruin in short order to their new state of residence.
So please, those of us who are still pulling the wagon beg those of you leaving your mess behind, to please leave your stupid behind also.