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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Portland metro flunks economics

When it comes to the economy, we're one of the weakest 19 out of the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country, according to the latest Brookings Institute study. We're 13th worst in loss of gross metropolitan product. Something to think about, perhaps, before you blacken those ballot circles next to familiar politicians' names.

Comments (37)

The criteria is a little suspect. In the long term, falling home prices are actually good for a city's economy not bad.

That said, I don't need Brookings to tell me Portland's economy sucks. Anyone who's looked for a job in PDX can tell you that.

Our smart leaders spent way more than a billion $ on fish (especially salmon) and that retains a few jobs fixing boats and selling fishing tackle. It created only a few jobs during construction and it takes only a handful of people to run the sewage plant. That money delivers cleaner water but few jobs.

Then we've stopped fixing the streets or converted them to bike lanes. So much for getting to your job if it's far away. Freight? Who needs freight?

(Here I could add PGE park, the tram, City subsidies to special interest groups, tax abatement for the well off...)

With the above projects our leaders turned to bonds and future revenue, the plastic of governments. Our lives and our children's lives will be smaller, plainer as a result. Visualize a small screen TV, an occasional day trip to the Oregon coast. Maybe a second, low paying job to try and get ahead. One young man I know works in a mechanic shop weekdays, then delivers pizza on weekends.

For another view on this at the national level check out Mr. Roubini at

I don't understand. I thought we had bicycles! Doesn't that count?

Bad economy? Do more bike lanes.

Cure for cancer? More bike lanes!!! Come on, don't you see a pattern?

66 & 67 - those wonderful dis-incentives to starting a business in this state - should keep us near the top of the list for awhile, too.

Guess we better build more subsidized housing and bike lanes for the artists and creatives who we're banking our future on....

Over on BlueOregon Kari Chisholm is claiming there has not been one downside to 66 & 67.

In the past weeks I've been meeting with my accountant that says his clients are experiencing just the opposite. A friend who owns a business that has a lot of gross cash "profits", but is experiencing only a zero to 1% profit laid off seven people last week to help make payroll. Reason? 66 & 67. He had to find a way to come up with $32 thousand for additional M67 taxes.

Chisholm must be buried in his home office making too many websites for his few political buddies running for office to know economic reality.

That's a great report, we have the worst Mayor and city Council, but only 13 worst, not bad.

One of my clients is in the lumber brokerage business. They paid an additional $40,000 in 2009 business income taxes due to M67 -- even though the company lost money in 2009 due to a depressed construction market.

They didn't end up laying anyone off or cutting back on hours (they're a very efficient company and don't have lots of excess capacity), but the tax hit meant that they ended up not filling a vacant job position that they otherwise would have.

That's only a single example, but it definitely has had an impact on certain types of businesses here in Oregon.

Jack, just curious, who are you voting for against Dan Saltzman?

I'm having trouble deciding, because the field is not too impressive.

Ha! Just went back to the main page and saw your votes listed. Never mind my prior blindness.

Jerry & ld

According to Kari, unless those businesses are willing to come forward publicly and turn over their books so Chuck and Mr. BO can audit them, they don't exist.

Given the extreme rancor amongst the left over businesses, he surely doesn't think any business ever will step up to his scrutiny. Of course, then no business ever suffered from 66/67.

BO has become such a joke. It's mostly koolaid sipping leftists who haven't had an original thought since 1985.

Their definition fo a "troll" is pretty much anyone who dissents from their world view. And now they make people sign up for facebook to comment.

They get a bit touchy when people point this out; I bet by this evening there will be a spittle flecked post here by T.A. Barnhart.

According to Kari, unless those businesses are willing to come forward publicly and turn over their books so Chuck and Mr. BO can audit them, they don't exist.

Add Oregon Business' Ben Jacklet to the list, too.

Chuck Sheketoff would love nothing more than to paw over every companies books. He's been pushing for that in every legislative session. Nothing like have SEIU's own lawyer-cum-policy analyst being a freelance auditor for the state. He could pump out one "gotcha" press release every day ... He'd beat Kroger, Wheeler, and Brown combined.

Noted a Bloomberg article that said Harrisburg PA should consider Chap 9 bankruptcy. See

Now if Harrisburg is down 1.5% GMP and ranks 43, what does that mean for PDX's -4.8 GMP and rank of 88?

This gross metropolitan product is getting out of Dodge and moving to Bend - I have to stay in Oregon or I'll lose my health insurance, but Bend is a much more friendly climate for this small business owner.

laid off seven people last week to help make payroll. Reason? 66 & 67. He had to find a way to come up with $32 thousand for additional M67 taxes.

He only had to come up with $32k for the taxes, but laid off seven people? Sounds like he might have had some other problems beyond just M66/M67.

"In the long term, falling home prices are actually good for a city's economy not bad."

I take you are not a home owner with a mortgage. Otherwise, can you explain the above, I'm curious.

"unless those businesses are willing to come forward publicly and turn over their books"

Why even bother to try to convince these people? They have these idee fixe and nothing will change it. Heck, listen to Bradbury (raise taxes by cutting loopholes) and Kitz (we need a sales tax.)

Not one of this group has had an original idea in 20+ years. So here we go again, same old tired idea and expecting different results.

Miles, you must not run a business or have ever signed payroll checks.

One way to come up with a $32,000 small business debt after the last two years of doing everything imaginable business-wise to stay in the black is to cut employees. That doesn't mean you then get to gain 7 employees x $40,000 payroll= $280,000. The work load of those seven employees, if your sales volume remains the same, is to put the burden on the remaining employees. That means extra hours to pay and other added business expenses. The net gain isn't $280,000 but hopefully around $32,000 or hopefully more, helping to make the business at least have a more realistic 4% profit margin to even justify being in business.

In some months the business has been in the red. You have to make up for this too by paying the debt as well as the interest your banker has charged to float the business, or you're gone.

But also a business has to grow-it has to be really in the black to help finance some of this growth and to have a balance sheet that encourages a banker to lend for growth. Two thousand in the bank won't do it. A business must keep it's market share-that takes additional money. And a business must now have more income to help pay for all the other fees, taxes, additional health care costs that have recently been added by feds and state. And politicians even want to add more to that burden. You have to plan for that, because you can even be stabbed in the back retroactively like M67 did.

Let me explain something else on health care costs. Because this business has what ObamaCare calls "Cadillac HealthCare" giving employees very good health care including vision and dental and low deductibles, they also have additional "health tax" to pay.

Some of you posters need to talk to a few business people and meet reality.

Browsing the list I see McAllen, TX on top 20. Lived there for seven years. Super poor. No parks. Lots of federal money because extreme poverty. Teachers and nurses make 70 percent of what they make here. Very little citizen involvement in city or county political process. Dirty city. No recycling. Sprawl. Give me Portland any day!


Great explanation...I thought about trying to explain it myself, but didn't figure I change any Hope/Change brains with accounting for dummies. Hopefully, your explanation will.

Sadly, Government doesn't have to worry about making payroll, they just issue more bonds, print more money (Feds) or get an "interim" line of credit that lasts 10 years (CoP).

Brooks: I guess you didn't get out much. The City's website shows more than 20 parks in McAllen, TX.

And the city is so poor, that they had polo matches in one of the parks every weekend last month.

I guess things picked up after you left ...

Funny how these Progressives think that every business on the margin doesn't deserve to be in business. When those business that Miles thinks "might have had some other problems beyond just M66/M67" are gone they will advocate for more regulations and taxes that take out the new business that are on the margin and so on.

M67 was ridiculous. Charging back taxes on all revenues (not profits) in the middle of a severe recession? How stupid can you be?

I have heard from multiple sources now that these measures are having a real effect on business and investment decisions in Oregon. Even Novick admitted as much on BO shortly after the vote.

Miles, I have an easier explanation for you. You own a small business with low profit margins. After trying to get through the last two years of recession while doing right by your workers you have no more cash on hand, and have been taking on debt to run the business.

I hand you an unexpected bill for $32,000, which you don't have. But $32,000 happens to add up to roughly the cost of wage and benefits for 7 employees in the coming month. I think you can finish the math from there....

My point is simply that a lot of businesses are struggling in this economy, and were struggling long before M66/M67. But those measures give them a convenient excuse for why they're laying off employees or shutting down. It's going to be the very rare company that actually goes out of business because of the tax. Plus, these businesses are already taxed lower in Oregon than other states, so it's really hard to believe the argument you're making on their behalf.

And Jerry, do you know how high the cadillac health plan limits are? It's around $26,000 per employee per year. That's about TWICE what most of the GOVERNMENT health plans in the Portland area provide. So if this company is laying off workers but keeping those health benefits -- well, 'nuff said.

Miles, apparently you still don't get it.

This particular business that I made an example of has been in business for over 30 years in Washington Co. It is a well known business which you've probably bought their products. It is well managed and their banker recently complimented the ownership on how it is one of their few businesses staying in the black through this Great Recession; owning their own properties, buildings, and equipment, except for two recent months of being just a few thousand in the red.

The owner has a policy to not let a business continue to see red. They made substantial moves over 1-1/2 years ago to prevent red and then M66/67 hit them.

You're wrong about claiming they "must have had some other problems", and you're wrong about what constitutes a "cadillac plan" based on price only.

Let me guess Miles. You work for the government or a non-profit.

He must.

Here is the deal. Lets say there are 100 compaines operating and at any given time 5 are on the edge. The owner is working for nothing just to keep the doors open and bills paid. In comes new regulations and taxes like M66/67 and it pushes them over the edge.

Now there are 95 and 5 are on the edge with the new cost structure of M66/67. PLUS now there are a couple more that fall into that "on the edge" category as they used to supply materials or buy stuff from #96-100 prior to them going out of business.

Miles thinks companies 88-95 should fail anyway since they are teetering. All the while the Public Employees Unions are rallying the sheeple for another round or regulations/tax increases to provide "social justice / living wages / save the children / save the planet" etc. The sheeple and the greedy, sinister, power and money grubbing government class push another seven companies off the cliff.

Repeat as long as you can get away with it.

To take a step back from the M66/M67 he said/she said discussion -

Look at the other cities on the bottom 19 - that alone should tell us the news is pretty bad - either rust belt locales (Detroit) or badly-burst real estate markets in Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada. The only one I couldn't figure out is Boise, but, hey, they're thinking about putting in a street car.

The economy in Oregon is, and has been, heavily dependent on the construction industry including lumber, manufacturing of construction products, and recently the construction of new buildings and homes. Therefore any recession is bound to hit our economy badly as the first thing that stops in any recession is construction. So M66/M67 aside we were already pretty screwed and will be in the future unless someone figures out something else our economy can rest on.

You work for the government or a non-profit.

Yes. And if that's enough of a reason for you to discount my views, then stop reading. But I'm not the only one calling BS on your arguments, which just don't make sense. So far, you've cited one company that provides absurd health benefits, needs to find $32k, and so lays off 7 people, which will actually cost the company $248,000 in additional overtime/other expenses but save $280,000 in payroll. So the CEO does that instead of, say, eliminating elective plastic surgery from its benefit package, saving $200k a year -- thus banking the $32k, pocketing a $100k bonus, and handing out $68k in employee bonuses.

These businesses have benefitted for years from Oregon being a low business tax state. Given the choice between continuing that into the future or providing education, health, and public safety services to everyone, I will take the latter. So will 50+% of my fellow voters.

It's like trying to talk to your wife after you told her that yes, those jeans DO make her look fat.


You are clearly smarter than your argument. If you ask 97% of the voters if they would like to raise taxes on the other 3%, the answer will always be yes. I'm just surprised the margin was so slim.

That a majority passed it doesn't mean it is right, or good fiscal policy.

26K is more than cadillac miles.

TriMet is 2200/month and that's excessive. Pick another word if you want, but paying that is asinine.

If you're incapable of recognizing that then you're n the hopeless crowd who can't figure out Creepy either.

Miles, I think I gave a simple explanation that demonstrates that laying off 7 employees doesn't equal $280,000 in net profit to this company.

I won't repeat myself. But please don't let your possible ignorance or intent to deceive be an example for other public employees.

And I can provide examples of other companies with similar stories but it wouldn't help you understand. I was going to consider introducing you to the owner, but I can see it wouldn't do any good. The owner, because of finally being put-out by what has happened to this state now takes the time to meet customers and if opportunity presents itself, he'll talk about the economic/political reality from his perspective. He's even lost a few customers, but he has decided it is time to speak.

It's like Mr. Furman, the CEO of Greenbrier speaking up about the Willamette River Plan of Sam's that will hurt his Corporation. The time has come to speak out, which is very hard for businesses to do-somewhat because of people like you.

"You work for the government or a non-profit."



Did anyone watch the democratic Governor's debate? Both candidates want to change the high revenue + low margin problem, so its days as part of our state tax code are numbered. Everyone who pays attention is taking note of the stories of unjust hardship on Oregon businesses. Miles doesn't speak for anybody.

Looks like BYD, the Chinese battery and electric car manufacturer that Warren Buffett acquired a stake in and that Portland was wooing, is headed to Los Angeles.

That's why, even when California is in the dumps, it still attracts more business than Oregon ever hopes to.

Is that why Gov Ted and Sam are going to China again for two weeks with his entourage? Is he going to Woo BYD and others again even after getting the "NO", or is it another taxpayer funded junket?

I thought we were the Greenest, so claim the local pols. But if you look at all the Most....Lists, Portland and Oregon are far down the lists. But if you read the Oregonian you wouldn't know it. We're just a City of Sinclair Lewis Babbits.

He who robs Peter to pay Paul will always have Paul's support.


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Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
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L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
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Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
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Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
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Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
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Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
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Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
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Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
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Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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