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Sunday, May 17, 2009

As Tom McCall said... sort of...

A cool place to live, but don't expect to get a job here.

Comments (40)

wsj "I'm hopeful people will stick around," says Portland mayor Sam Adams. "Even if they come to my city without a job, it is still an economic plus."
JK: Oh goodie – more people on un-employment. But maybe they will vote to keep you in office. That is the real goal anyway - getting voters young enough to fall for the Portland lie: People will drive less (they don’t) people like high density (as long as some one else pays for it.) High density reduces costs -NOT. High density reduces commute times - NOT. A vibrant city core - by raping the outer areas for money to feed the downtown monies interests.

wsj Portland's culture and businesses have come to reflect the city's youthful edge. Among U.S. metro areas with more than a million people, only Seattle -- another magnet for the young and educated -- has more coffee shops per capita than Portland,
JK: Coffee shops - the center of every planner’s vibrant neighborhood. Exactly what do the contribute to our wealth?

wsj Roughly 8% of Portlanders commute regularly by bike, the highest proportion of any major U.S. city and about 10 times the national average, according to Boulder, Colo., bike-advocacy group Bikes Belong.
JK: Yeah, but the non-liers at the Portland Business Alliance only found 6% in the core of the city. What are the chances that 8% of Portlanders commute by bike, but only 6% in the central core. ZERO. Just another lie about Portland. See page 11 of the 2007 downtown census portlandalliance.com/pdf/2007census.pdf

wsj He was laid off two months later, and today is living off the $417 in weekly unemployment checks.
JK: But he’ll probably vote for Sam, so it is all good – BTW, that’s $21,684 per year. Not bad for being unproductive.

wsj "This town is awesome. Tulsa tended to roll up the streets at night."
JK: This is the very definition of vibrant: active night life for horney youngsters (and panhandelers.) That is part of why families are leaving town. (Aside from not being able to afford it.)


If its about Portland, you'll read about it in the WSJ!

No wonder Oregon has a fiscal crises - we're supporting the creative class while they wait for that barista job to someday appear.

Graduated from law school, walking poodles, doesn't care - I'm just guessing he didn't pay for college and law school - his parents must be so proud!

I just don't get why -anybody- would move to a different state, much less a specific city with NO JOB lined up. I guess graduating from university with that degree attacks one's common sense.

And then to get public assistance, when you moved without making sufficient financial arrangements...that just makes me angry. When someone is making more on unemployment than some long time residents make working...that is ridiculous.

Thank you so much WSJ for further glamorizing the wonders of irresponsibility.

Okay, anything Sam says these days makes a lot of Portlanders bristle - I get that.
I cringed when he called Portland, "My city."
But the Boomer generation had better take a long hard look at themselves before criticizing these young people about how bad the job market is.
Look, I don't expect much class from my people. We partied our brains out and squandered what the Greatest Generation had put in place.
But it would be a breathless act of karmic stupidity - after we have now blown up the economic universe - to turn our attention to making fun of young people for struggling to find a job. There are limits - even for the generation that was given everything and screwed it all up.

What set me off, was a new book called, "The Dumbest Generation", written by a 49-year-old professor making fun of how dumb young people are.

I, as a card-carrying boomer, am not going to stand by and watch the clowns who tanked the greatest country in world history, turn their attention to ridiculing young people. Even we should have more class than that.

I don't know about that Bill.
I think this story, or message, is more about the Bulls**t Central that Portland really is.

Going back many years Portland, with Metro, began hyping Portland as something it was and is not.
The BS has only worsened over the years.
So much so that the PDC built that multi million Creative Services building to take advantage of that migration of smart, hip creative people to Portland. It sat empty till the PDC itself moved in. What was that, 8, 10 years ago?

So goes the story of Portland.

The city that never tells the truth can't provide the growth, economy or jobs these young people are seeking. Public officials are stuck in the fantasy of sustainability and CO2 reduction as a stimulus so the future is hopelessly gloomy for Portland.
Unless they are content living long with roommates in rental property or plan on getting a government job most of these new arrivals will discover the Portland story the hard way.

You have to wonder what the apartment vacancy rate would be without the in-migration. For first quarter 2009, it was almost 5% in the metropolitan Portland area. Nationally, the rate was 7.2% for the quarter. And the young immigrants are spending money on necessities such as food (and coffee).

As for the book "The Dumbest Generation," it's a provocative title (probably on purpose) and it sounds like the author of the book has an attitude. Having said that, just a few days ago a close friend, who teaches high school in another state, told me that she and her fellow teachers were dumbfounded when they realized that their students don't wear watches and are not able to tell time from analog clocks or watches. Maybe the cause of the problem is the digital age, or maybe it is the adults who are failing to teach these skills.

Oh, come on. The Boomers all sat around on their a**es until they hit the age of 30 too. The only difference is that these kids aren't gobbling down every drug imaginable while forsaking basic hygiene (lousy hippies). Instead, they're loafing around coffee shops with their laptops waiting for their parents generation to finally retire and let go of their death grip on the dwindling job market.

It could be worse. Portland has yet to get to the point of San Fran circa 1970. At least our streets aren't over-clogged with 22 year old acid casualties.

I am a young person *waves hello*. I'm 33, and I have friends who are in their early 20's, and everyone is struggling a bit. But we also see our peers making stupid decisions and wonder why. My guess is that if you're insulated from the economic realities when you're still learning about how the world works in your early 20's, then you're set up with unrealistic expectations for when you're out in the world.

I also see that Portland is considered a bit of a utopia by some who live out of state, and I always just shake my head and where the hell they're getting their information from. But perhaps someone whose best friend lived in Columbia Villa back in the late 80's when it was BAD wouldn't recognize this mystical "hip" place described in national news sources.

That isn't to say I don't love where I live; I do! But it sure ain't Paradise.

I really don't understand the appeal of Portland for all of these 20-somethings still flocking here from out of state. Other cities have coffee shops, bike lanes and cool bars, people. And the weather in these places is no doubt better too.

Or maybe I just can't understand because I've been living here most of my life. Perhaps I should go do some hard time in Tulsa.

jim karlock, if someone moves here from out-of-state without a job, they won't be drawing"un-employment" from Oregon. Unemployment compensation is paid by the state in which you last had employment.

As for the computer programmer making $417 a week in unemployment, to get that level of compensation he had to make about $34,000 a year, and there's a maximum of about 26 weeks worth of payments.

I think what got me was the line, "His parents must be so proud." Ridiculing the kid for getting a degree and then not even finding a barista job, and us complaining that we're supporting the creative class.

What's the projected budget deficit for this year? 1.8 trillion dollars? Yeah, these kids better start acting a little more responsibly.

Look, I know the Portland angle of this story, but I also know the Portland I moved to back in the day. You could get a part-time banquet job, be a musician, live in a house for cheap rent and have hundreds of dollars left after the bills each month for some of the greatest debauchery the world has ever seen.

Now that bunch is complaining about how dumb the kids are? Gee, I wonder what happened?

"Cow is giving kerosene, kid can't read at 17, the words he knows are all obscene, but it's all right."

One other thing: They're not living off us, so much as we're charging them to the tune of many trillions of dollars.

The Boomers survived, but pretending we didn't screw up the world is our final act of irresponsibility - and that is really saying something.

And turning a scornful eye towards these young people? That's just ridiculous.


26 weeks eh?

i wonder how many times unemployement benefits have been extended since 2007.

my creative class friends seem to look at unemployment insurance as a free vacation. imo, a wpa-type program should become mandatory for those who continue to draw unemployment for longer than 8 weeks or so.

I am part of the "dumbest" generation AKA those born in the 1980s AKA Generation Y or the Millennials.

Inter-generational inequity between our parents and us is a very sore topic. Our grandparents saved money and many paid for the college of their Johnny and Suzie Baby Boomer along with helping them set up their businesses and medical practices.

I have seen this in my family where my Grandfather did anything for my Uncle who is a dentist. Yet, my Uncle will never admit that his Father paid for everything and put his name on every piece of property that my Uncle purchased. Instead, he preaches this "rags-to-riches" lie that is thoroughly debunked by my Mother and Aunts.

Funny how we complain and blame our parents when we are down, but exaggerate to the point of lying about our own path to success when the next generation starts wondering why we have left them a world that is not as fruitful as the one that was left to us.

It is about time that we start discussing the responsibilities from one generation to the next and the ever so sore topic of inter-generational equity.

Yes, 26 weeks (or whatever that side of the discussion begins with) always seems to extend easily to over a year.

A friend of mine is now up to 72 weeks of extended unemployment. He'll be starting this summer with an additional $30,0000 of free education for career retraining paid by the feds-that's us. He's going to use the amount at a community college and he'll come out ahead because there is a "living expense" amount included.

He's had a few good job opportunities but the equivalency of the freebies almost compensates for his previous jobs wages, plus he has many hours available to make "money on the side" avoiding taxes. Well, he's actually ahead because his free time has expand too. Not bad. I'll try not to judge.

Having watched way too much of that "Portland Mystique" while I lived there ("I don't have a job, I don't have any prospects, and I don't want anything but a cool job, so I'm going to keep hitting up my parents for money until someone discovers me and pays me what I think I'm worth"), I think it's time for Portland to embrace that this is the way things are going to be. To start, let's consider renaming the Willamette to "De Nile".

Every generation eventually gets a chance to be the wise elders. It's just biology and mathematics. Everyone older is eventually dead.
It's going to be interesting to see how the Boomers handle this role.

What I noticed about the Greatest Generation is that they didn't want to talk about it. The name itself came from Tom Brokaw's book. It wasn't their idea.

I don't sense the Boomers will be as reticent about how wonderful we are. Have you heard the way listeners greet Sean Hannity by saying, "You're a great American"?

If I tried telling my folks they were great for their participation in World War 2, they would immediately cut me off, and say something like, "The real heroes are the ones who died over there - not us." Quite a humble group compared to my crowd.

Not that I'm ashamed or anything. There were some things we did right. For example, I vouch for the music. Not every generation came up with something as outstanding as rock and roll, so we can be proud of that. Frankly, these new alternative rock bands don't sound that different from what we were doing back then. I hear guitars, similar chord progressions, etc...When it comes to rock, the wise elder thing could fit.

But a quick glance at the financial position we've left for these young adults and the little kids you see in strollers today, tells a different story. It is not one of the things we did particularly well. In short, we screwed up the money.

If I had to defend it, I'd point back to the Great Depression and how that produced some quality people. Maybe we can latch onto some glory for causing the next one.

The best line I've heard about the economy is, "It's going to get worse, before it gets worse." Some investment guy came up with that and it's sharp.

So how do we handle this? How do we act like wise elders when we've been so unwise?

It would be typical human behavior for us to cover our own failures by lashing out at young people for being such pathetic screw-ups. I really hope that doesn't happen.

Perhaps we should be a little more gracious and apologetic about the jam we've left for them. Don't take every opportunity to rub it in that they're not doing so well.

And don't say we're the ones paying for their welfare, when in fact, we're running up a huge charge account that they and their children will have to pay off forever.

Besides, a lot of them wouldn't need welfare if we hadn't screwed up the money.

If we want to get away with the wise elder bit, we better not make our relative economic stability a big bragging point. We could face some real anger.

In fact, we're going to face a lot of anger anyway, so we better not be obnoxious or it'll just make it worse.

If we want to pretend we're the wise elders, we better be wise about it.

The only difference is that these kids aren't gobbling down every drug imaginable while forsaking basic hygiene (lousy hippies).

You apparently havent been downtown lately.

It seems to me like the great unwashed have doubled downtown in the last year, along with the drug dealers. I have been getting harassed for money on the MAX recently too.
And the dealers are bold too, they deal their crap right out in the open on the sidewalk.

A friend of mine is now up to 72 weeks of extended unemployment.

Well it'd be nice to know how to do that, because the benefits from the job I was laid off from in May 2007 ran out long, long ago, even after an extension.

It seems to me like the great unwashed have doubled downtown in the last year, along with the drug dealers. ... And the dealers are bold too, they deal their crap right out in the open on the sidewalk.

Economic downturns do tend to put more people out on the street, particularly the marginal ones. Not exactly a big surprise.

As for the open dealing on the sidewalk, that's not exactly a new phenomenon. Once the police started trying to make Old Town a "drug free zone" long ago, the dealers moved onto the bus mall. They've were dealing in the open across from the Star Park and Office Depot on Fifth Avenue more than a decade ago, although sometimes they'd step into the lobbies of office buildings there in inclement weather.

"generations" are bulls*it. there is no such thing. terms like "Gen X" and "Baby Boomers" and "The Greatest Generation" are ad hoc, made-up terms that don't really mean anything--except a clever marketing slice to market to, to look nostalgically at, or to condemn.

the "young creatives" that are supposedly the largest segment flocking here? it's bogus. the largest "segment" moving in the Portland Metropolitan Statistical Area is people over the age of 47.

you got it--retirees, and those looking to retire in the next 10-15 years.

and the average age of a Portlander? Just over 35. and *rising*.

what's *really* happening is this: Portland is becoming both top and bottom heavy *economically*, not demographically. the so called "in-migration of the creative class" to Portland is little more than press fodder. those "younger" creatives are really nothing more than people under 40, most fo whom aren't involved in a "creative" pursuit at all--it just sounds good. and guess what? they're not even a "class".

once again, the map is being mistaken for the terrain. the people that the article mentions, that we're supposedly ridiculing?

they don't actually exist.

The Pepsi Generation may have been a marketing tool, but the Greatest Generation was real. It's basically the people who were born during the Great Depression then went off to fight World War 2. The generations are delineated by the magnitude of historical events. I don't see why that can't work as a concept.

Then afterwards there was a big spike in births called the post-war baby boom so the generation became Boomers. In that case it was an actual math thing. Parents such as mine waited 'til their 30s because they were busy during their 20s fighting WW2 or going to France in the Red Cross - as with my Mom.

And calling these names "made-up terms" isn't exactly a brilliant point. Of course they're made-up terms. How else do they get here? On asteroids?

I think generations are born of common experiences. People of the same generation can meet for the first time and connect right away because of certain words or phrases or music. It's like being part of a tribe.

It doesn't matter what these generations are called. But they do exist, or did. Maybe they are no longer forming because cultural conformity and globalization have made daily life so homogenous.

Economic downturns do tend to put more people out on the street, particularly the marginal ones. Not exactly a big surprise.

These are not exactly the type that hold down a job if you know what I mean. I have seen t-shirts that say "Will Not Work For Anything"...while they are asking for my money.

As for the open dealing on the sidewalk, that's not exactly a new phenomenon.

Maybe not, but I have been working downtown for about 5 years now, and its much worse than when I started. Maybe they kept themselves a bit more secret than they do now, I dunno.

It's basically the people who were born during the Great Depression then went off to fight World War 2. The generations are delineated by the magnitude of historical events.


You should check your history, your math or both.

My dad was born in 1925 and he is one of the younger WWII vets today (Crewed B-17s, 8th AF)

I see my friends kids getting a BA and being $50k+ in debt. Law school would crank that up to about $150k.

So, is he paying that off being an assistant, or did mommy foot the bill?

Me, I'm a typical Baby Boomer - I went thru college on loans, grants and a few bucks from the folks. I ended up with $3k of debt, went to work and paid it off in 5 years.

There's jobs for attorneys right now.

I'm just saying he has chosen to screw off and has little regard for what he has been given.

I should have said raised during the Great Depression.

Maybe I should also say that the economic downturn doesn't apply to every individual as much as the globe in general.

There have to be young people who have all the right stuff but are being held back by a weak job market - a market weakened by the Boomer generation's fouling up of the economy.

Is that really up for debate?

The projected budget deficit for this year is 1.8 trillion. Car dealerships around since the 50s are closing. This is a colossal mess and it didn't have to happen.

Why not take responsibility for it?

There have to be young people who have all the right stuff but are being held back by a weak job market - a market weakened by the Boomer generation's fouling up of the economy.

both my mother and I are "Baby Boomers", by both popular definitions of it--she born in the 40s, me in the 60s.

you see, that's what confuses me. because I'm also considered part of "Generation X", meaning that I get to blame myself twice (and my mother) for fouling up the economy.

And at what point, I wonder, does the economy become the "responsibility" of the next generation? because the Baby Boomers essentially inherited an economy that, until being artifically being propped up by war, was an utter failure of capitalism.

and those Baby Boomers? where did they learn their economic chops, I wonder, and get their emotional and psychological training?

you see, I'm saying all this to say again--generations are a *myth*. there is no line between groups of people--there are just people. common experiences? sure. but so what? WWII was viscerally experienced by six-year-old British kids and 45-year-old Americans and 21-year-old Belgians and 16-year-old French girls. only onf of those four lived through the Depression.

Okay, forget the generation thing.
The people over 40 have been running the show now for a while.

I feel sorry for people from 18 to 30 who could suffer as a result of the way those over 40 have acted.

Back in the 1950s, those over 40 in America helped put together a huge burst of economic growth.

This is no longer the case.

And to those Trekkies who believed in "Star Trek: The Next Generation", I'm sorry. It was all bulls**t.

Not to take anything away from the folks born in the Roaring 20s who won WW2, but one key reason for the unprecedented American prosperity of the 50s and 60s was the fact that most of the rest of the world's industrial base had been destroyed in WW2 - a neighbor who flew B-17s with the 8th AF used to claim that he made the Marshall Plan possible/necessary. By the late 60s Europe was back on its feet & the party was over (LBJ's Guns & Butter didn't help). Then we turned it all over to China in a colossal act of folly, trading cheap consumer goods for the evisceration of the industrial middle class. As on most matters, Obama talks a good game here, but I see no interest in addressing the root of the problem.

The definition, "creative class", seems to have lost it's glamour. Even in PDX with fellow creative class folks.


I'm with you on the boomer thing. No doubt in my mind tha the boomers really screwed the pooch. I'm not exactly sure what they did wrong but they took something that was really working well in the 50's and 60's and tore it up. The riots in the late 60's seemed to start much of the decline with several cities in the USA never recovering. There was a general shift away from responsibility towards gratification which wasn't healthy. Lots of young people in the late 60's focused their energy on drugs, music, free sex, and general "liberation". Basically it appears that "liberation" ment not doing anything they didn't want to do. Now that same genearation has been in power for a number of years and has left it all in a bit of a mess. I agree with you that some humility would be in order but the boomers have never been humble and they've never shown much maturity. Doubtful that they'll start now.

The "Boomers" didn't do it. Reagan did it. Reaganomics pushed the middle class to the brink and partly off the map. it's fairly well-established.

And Reagan was a member of "The Greatest Generation"--lived through the Depression and WWII.

Roughly 8% of Portlanders commute regularly by bike, the highest proportion of any major U.S. city and about 10 times the national average, according to Boulder, Colo., bike-advocacy group Bikes Belong.

obscenely wrong, and check their data source. The number of "regular cyclists" has been counted in such silly, self-reported ways as to be useless for analysis. for example, one study counted *commuters on the Hawthorne Bridge* as its main data source. That's it. for another example, "Portland" for bike studes almost always means "inner east Portland".

and consider: 8% would mean about 50,000 Portland residents commuting "regularly by bike".

Here's another piece by Sam Smith that I wish I had written: "An Apology to Younger Americans"


Pogo: "We have met the enemy and he is us."


I'm with you on the boomer thing. No doubt in my mind tha the boomers really screwed the pooch. I'm not exactly sure what they did wrong but they took something that was really working well in the 50's and 60's and tore it up.

George Bush, Barack Obama, Colin Powell, Jimmy Buffett, Arlo Guthrie, Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury) and Bill Gates are all "Baby Boomers". Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Greg Allman. and so on.

Notice something? It's a *diverse* group. Arlo Guthrie would puke at the thought of having some ideological commonality with Bush--or economic philosophy.

and again--I'm a "Baby Boomer", I'm told. I'm fairly certain I haven't "tore up" the economy that Reagan handed me early in my work life.

And Reagan, by the way, was a member of "The Greatest Generation". Nixon too. LBJ. and so on.

Both the builders of the atomic bomb and the creators of advanced, mass-delivery biological and chemical weapons were members of "The Greatest Generation".

Napalm? invented in WWII by "The Greatest Generation". do we blame that generation, or the Baby Boomers, for using it in Vietnam on hundreds of thousands of civilians?

I don't know any other way to be clearer--generations are a myth used to make storytelling easier. they're not real. at best, they're made up of groups so diverse that to say they worked together to destroy a national economy is profoundly absurd.

. . . people with polio; missing school for mumps, measles, chicken pox and German measles; the scent of freshly-mimeographed paper; fountain pens (not for lefties); Howdy Doody . . .

You had to be there.

For what it's worth, I'm probably classified in this generation that you boomer curmudgeons are griping about.

Here's the difference between myself and my age group:

I have a college degree, which is largely useless in my career. That's not what makes me different per se, there's lots of that going on. However, what does make me different is that my degree is not useless because my career does not follow my area of study, but because anything I studied in College is woefully out of date and has been put into a roundfile years ago.

I have a technical job, working for a once-independent northwest retailer, which is now a division of a midwest-based Fortune-50 retailer. I do tasks that are nowhere near my job description, because they need to get done; and I do it without quibble because it's better to get crap done and move on, then to cry about it.

I have no debt, except for my mortgage, which is paid on time or early every month, and has a balance that is less than the value of the house it bought; which, by the way, is a single-family structure on a 50x100 lot in SE Portland, in a neighborhood that hopefully stays populated with 50x100 lots with single-family structures on them. Yards, dogs, kids, sprinklers, and lawnmowers - these are things I want to continue to see as I roam the neighborhood, not dormitories remade and remarketed to be something they aren't.

I too enjoy a good cup of coffee, and a coffee house to sit in and enjoy it. I, however, understand that this is a luxury that will be cut from my lifestyle the very instant I can no longer afford it.

My immediate family lives in the Salem area, with a brother and two aunts that are here in the Metro area. I will keep my car until the doors fall off, because the thing that transit planners never understand is that you can't get from here to there without a major hassle and paying 3x as much. To hell with that.

The biggest difference between me and my ilk, is that I take responsibility for my own situation. You can attribute that to upbringing if you want, or that I have a wildly different Myers-Briggs personality type from the rest of my age group; but it is what it is.

Please remember, when grousing incessantly about those damn kids, and telling them to get off your lawn, that there are those of us out there bearing just as much of a tax burden as you, paying our own way (and someone else's).

There's jobs for attorneys right now.


I'm sending out resumes and hearing NOTHING!

I'm with Fred though. Not all of us are like the slackers described in the WSJ article (yes I have a job and it actually pays ok and involves using my brain).

The boomers have a lot to answer for. As they "grew up" they forgot the lessons their parents learned and decided we didnt need regulations like the ones keeping banks from getting into risky lending & underwritng practices.

In someways the boomers and their parents screwed things together. The parents started the massive spend spend spend you are a comsumer 1st lifestyle after WWII when they wanted to just relax and enjoy life after the war and the depression. However the boomers took it & ran with it.

Advertising and technology made us feel as if the old rules did not apply; with the right ad campaign you could sell anything & and technology would make existing biz models obsolete-remember the dot com bust?-what a wasted learning opportunity.

Pile on more credit card debt! take out a home improvement loan! buy a new car every 4 yrs! It was a house of cards and it has crashed.

Lumping the Boomers and their parents together is pretty lame. The Boomers forced their parents to start thinking about the environment. The Boomers also stopped their parents' imperialism.

The Boomers invented the mullet, and the bong. They also invented the PC and the internet. (Al Gore led us on that last one.)

Be as mad as you want at us, Son. Just don't make the same mistakes we did. And don't confuse us with our parents.


I agree the boomers did a lot of good. Environmental movement, caring more about good govt (freedom of info laws, campaign finance reform etc), women's rights & all mentioned by Jack. Many of these changes had to be pushed over the opp. of the boomer's parents.

But I still notice that the buy buy buy spend spend spend consumerisism that has really messed us up had it's roots in the boomer's parents desire to enjoy life after going thru WWII and the depresssion.

I can understand why they wanted that life as they had gone thru 25% unemployment and a world war. However it was still the seed for what has become in many ways a rather sterile society, one where we are comsumers 1st, where achieving needed policy reforms takes 2nd place to ensuring that no business loses a profit opportunity (like health insurance corps), 70 yrs ago people didn't carry the level of credit card debt compared to they do now.

Maybe the current slump will reduce this problem.

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