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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tell it like it is

Comments (10)


UO is why I'm here. Not unike your posting of your journalist mentor who passed away. I was a young engineer in the midwest in the mid 90s. UO gave me a path toward an MBA, with credits in the IS/IT college to get the tech side of the internet integrated into my graduate degree. Their out of state tuituon was a whopping $10k per year. I also loved the pics I saw on the internet from Oregon. It's not shitty outside of Portland!

My Thesis? Not a .com idea like so many of my classmates. I proposed a web based approach to manufacturing data. A way to tie all the machines and labor into an open source point click dashboard with no proprietary licences on the reporting system that would be html and java based.

I went back to the foundry/metals gig in the midwest and took my old 180 employee plant paperless in 3yrs. They made me the best offer vs Intel or HP. And the tech sector was crashing about the time I graduated and went back to the midwest.

I rode the housing bubble in the metals market, and saw the end coming fast for my midsized midwest brass/copper mill. Jumped back to Oregon with student loans free and clear and debt free for the first time in my adult life. Why? A job in the metals biz here. Oregon.

We have cheap electricity here thanks to all the hydro power. Not a bad thing if you melt metal with electricity! II met my wife at the Muddy Rudder, have two kids and live on a small farm in Clackistan. But I digress...

UO - I feel like I manged to get through there in the late 1990s before it all got marketed/commercialized/pihil knighted. I had simple accomidations/classrooms there, it reminded me of my high school when it came to desks/tables etc. Passionate professiors, and very little admin/overhead seemed to exist. Some of my econ professors even taught the difference between Keynesian and Austrian economics! At UO! Spend your way out of debt vs earn your way out. Novel!

The business college is now renovated, and looks like it matches the price tag. The cost of an out of state MBA is pushing 4X vs when I graduated just a little over a decade ago.

Would I do it all again? You bet. It's why I'm a productive taxpaying PERS fearing Oregon resident today making tangible goods.

Is the UO in for a reality check? Is it facing the same fate as most any higher education institution? Is the taxpayer/ tuition math unsustainable?
Is there a nation wide student loan bubble that will pop?

You bet. It's the real deal. Sure as you're born...

Go Ducks!

PS: tiny keyboards suck

PPS: Oregon public employee PERS is doomed mathematically. Deal with it Oregon. The math doesn't pencil out.

That which cannot be repaid - won't be repaid.

What do you think will happen regarding the PERS?
Do you know what has happened in other parts of the country?

I really love these "why I'm here" takes. This past Sunday my wife missed her normal Mass so she went to a church on Woodstock. It was right near where I first lived in Portland so I went along to retrace my steps during the service.

My band moved here in the summer of 1975, but I did go back to Arabia for one last trip at the end of the summer to be there as the family closed that chapter.

I got back to Portland at night and the last part involved getting off a bus carrying my suitcase with my entire childhood cut off from me forever. I felt like I would never see my hometown again, and nearly 40 years later, that's exactly how it turned out.

It was dark out as I took the turn off Woodstock and then left on SE Carlton. I could hear a party going on in the band house - these total maniacs that I had thrown in with. I set the suitcase down on the dirt street and just stared ahead wondering what was going to happen.

To Portland's credit the street is now paved but I walked the exact steps Sunday night and thought about how I got here and all that has happened since. I can't remember whole years that well but I remember that night coming from Arabia very clearly.

Of course, none of it really went as planned but it all worked out eventually. It certainly was a slow climb to a good story. Lately I play the cassettes from my musical pursuits and just smile. There are times when I still think of my former dreams and see the whole thing as a failure, but if I'm honest about it, I can't believe I pulled this off.

Yeah...'Winning Takes Care of Everything'...said Neil Goldschmuck. "That poor girl I raped? She was certainly 'taken care of'"

And Lance Armstrong...yeah, he won and won and won. Of course, it was all crap because he cheated...but, hey...he won.

The more I hear about MBAs, the more I'm sure that the acronym stands for "Morally Bankrupt A***oles". All universities are producing all too many of them (one is too many). We don't need any more to fuel the sociopathic corporations in their predation upon average citizens. I'm for pulling the plug on UC Nike.

And the Knight addition:

Auget largiendo

I'm here because my mother went into labor here. I was almost born on the Ross Island bridge.

The "real" Muddy Rudder is in Dillingham, AK. If you've been there, you know what I'm talking about. That other one is just an impostor. Just sayin...

BB made a comment we should all pay attention to. When he referenced his days at UO, he spoke of the great education he got in modest surroundings at a fair market rate.

At some point, UO along with colleges everywhere and the country as a whole went on a spending spree. Nothing but the best. The times were flush and we could afford it. Or so many people thought. The Dot Com bubble played out making people who did not participate feel like chumps. PERS started variable interest accounts so members could take advantage of rising stock values. But the time the new Millenium came around, the Echo Boomlet was in the home-buying stage and middle agers were cashing in their equity for a new kitchen or trips of several lifetimes. New schools were built, fancy university libraries and sports arenas, and pretty city halls. Who knows where all the money went. But is didn't go into personal savings as much as personal debt. Nothing but the best.

Now that the pendulum has done its inevitable swing to the austerity side of the economy, easy money is gone, but for some the appetite remains. Some cities did not learn the lesson - that it doesn't take a gorgeously landscaped park for kids to play ball or a family to have a picnic. Schools have to be safe, but the surroundings have very little to do with the quality of the education. Streets can be paved but understand that bioswales and bike paths are a luxury.

Modesty beats grandiosity and leaves people feeling better in the end - with little or no debt, realistic expectations of what government can and cannot do, and a full and prosperous life they created themselves. We didn't need the trinkets after all, and the "best" was right before our eyes and we didn't see it. In good times and bad, modesty works.

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