July 30, 2003


Spectator.org has an article on Governor Locke that was mildly amusing:

The governor of Washington State is a constitutionally weak office, and it has been made even more infirm by the increase in voter initiatives in the last two decades. I often summarize the new consensus as, We hate the legislature, and the governor had better play dead.

The normal way of things in Washington is that politicians work hard to raise fees and taxes and pass irksome regulations, and then citizens sign petitions and vote for initiatives, pulling the rug out from under said pols at the ballot box.
Boy does that sound familiar.

July 29, 2003


Well.... maybe it's only the end of Kodak:

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- First, it was new competition. Then new technology. Now, analysts believe struggling Eastman Kodak Co. has some two to three years to find a place in the world of digital photography.

If not, the venerable pioneer of mass-market picture-taking, which grew fat in the 20th century off high-margin, silver-halide film packaged in ubiquitous yellow boxes, could begin to fade into history.


July 09, 2003


Sure, I try and take a nice sunny day off. But nooooo.... They keep draging me back into the Blogosphere. Taking a jab at my "Another One Bites The Dust" series, b!X writes:

another one rises from the dead instead of bites the dust?

Henry Weinhard's production hops back to Oregon
I actually noted this back when the agreement was signed, but good luck finding my post.... Blogger has no effective search apparatus and I am too tired right now to go try an advanced Google search. Point, however, is taken. I made a call for good news and this qualifies, even if I am not a huge beer drinker.

Meanwhile, speaking of b!X, go check out this piece on the ever continuing stupidity Portland is inflicting regarding murals.

This is just so dumb it's almost a waste of breath. Suburbia, knowingly lacking much of the cultural richness of the city, is busy trying to find ways to ease the rules to encourage things like murals. Hey guys, come out here by me! We need you, and we might even, gasp, appreciate your efforts!

July 06, 2003


I just wanted to leave a side note about this establishment. Monday afternoon I ate here, alone, for lunch. My budget may be thin, but my tastes are not, and I have always been a harsh critic, especially of those who try to exude class but only end up exuding falsity. So I went in, knowing it was a step down from Atwater's, which I had never eaten at, expecting disappointment.

I was wrong, and I am more than happy to say it. The service was pampering, the food was good, and the view and atmosphere spectacular. Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sinatra, Mel Torme, and etc... played softly in the dark, inviting room as I ate, and watched the blue, blue world swirl away outside.

Sure, it's probably not as fancy a menu as Atwater's had, (prices were affordable, after all,) but it is, in my estimation, a very classy place.

June 20, 2003


Oregon taxes the poor more heavily than the rich through excise and property taxes. If income taxes are so bad, why did Oregon's economy grow faster than that of any other state from 1995 to 2000?

Income inequality exploded in the 1990s. Hass' advice would exacerbate the problem. Swapping income taxes for consumption taxes would shift the tax burden further onto the poor and make financing a rainy day fund harder. Also, Oregonians would pay higher net taxes to raise the same revenue, because consumption taxes are not deductible on federal income taxes.

So says Jeff Thompson of the Oregon Center for Public Policy, in the letters section of today's Trib.

June 18, 2003


Rebecca Rundquist, an attorney, went to work at REI's Seattle flagship store during the late 1990s, hoping "to find an interesting and educational job that allowed me to do quality environmental legal work on a volunteer basis during my free time." What she found instead was "a new, corporate priority," with an emphasis on sales.

"I knew REI was no longer a co-op when employees started getting a bonus every time a customer opened a credit card account. The incentives given from management to employees were clearly all about profit. I started to wonder why I wasn't just selling used cars or working at Nordstrom -- there was no difference."Rundquist quit her job after less than a year.
Read more of the hilarity at the Seattle Weekly.

June 13, 2003


The Portland Communique is not as skeptical as I am on the whole "creative class" thing. B!X makes an interesting point by saying:

...it's important that we don't lose sight of the possible benefits to bringing the "cultural creatives" approach to the public policy table merely because our most prominent local proponent of the idea doesn't always walk the walk in the ways we'd like to see.
Unfortunately, I think the dueling recall effort shows that Portland is not yet playing politics at a level where Realpolitik is a feasible option. Which is, of course, a loss for the richness of political progress in this region.


How many times must it be said before these guys get it? Instead, they keep plugging along with ideas that are DOA with the voters:

A proposed tax on business activity that would funnel revenue to schools will get a hearing in the state Senate next week.

The tax is the brainchild of Sen. Kurt Schrader, D-Canby, the co-chairman of the joint budget committee, and as such may get a closer look than some of the other revenue ideas floating around the Capitol.


Meanwhile, Rep. Max Williams, R-Tigard, and a few other moderate Republicans continue working behind the scenes on developing a 5 percent retail sales tax dedicated to schools. Williams said Tuesday that he has been assured by the House leadership that his plan will get a hearing, but no date has been set.
A business acitivty tax is nothing more than a sales tax under a different guise. In either proposal's case, we're talking about a regressive tax, which would be worst for those at the bottom of the rung, both as consumers and as businesses.

UPDATE: Jack Bogdanski hits a home run on this subject. Though I am not sure that a sales tax is a right-wing plot.... Actually Jack, I don't know of many Republicans who want a Sales Tax, except for legislators....


Fred at Rantavision Rantavation made a mistake when he said:

"government programs" allow businesses to make money by subsidizing otherwise huge infrastructure costs, such as distribution (roads--rail (remember, the rail service in this country was completely subsidized by the government through land grants, loans, and matching funds)

The federal government provided land grants to a limited number of companies, with the idea being that the railroads would sell this land to fund their westward expansions, while also helping to promote settlement. However, all railroads did not receive these grants -- only western ones, and only a little over half of those. Railroads east of the Mississippi were largely not recipients of land grants.

Construction subsidies were only provided to one enterprise -- the first transcontinental, the Union Pacific. This is the source of the infamous Credit-Mobiler scandal, wherein contractors overcharged UP, and UP in turn overcharged the government, in order to bilk. Although lineside communities in other areas would from time to time offer subsidies bribes to railroads to come to their towns over bypassing them, the amount of money given by any government to the other railroads was slim to none. (The second transcon, the Northern Pacific, received land grants but no subsidies.)

Lastly, it should be noted that the railroads had to provide free transportation to the government until about WW2, which more than repaid any money they ever were given or borrowed, and then some.

Lastly, one of the most prominent companies in western railroad history was the Great Northern. Built by St. Paul magnate James J. Hill, it used no government money of any kind to complete it's line, which is one of the finest transcon grades in the nation. Today, GN survives as Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the second largest railroad in the United States.

In short, rail service was definately not "completely subsidized by the government", not by a longshot. If you are going to make a detailed analysis of a tax system or a government, please, Fred, don't make false blanket statements taken from inaccurate schoolbooks and popular myth.


In last friday's Portland Tribune was a letter I wanted to comment about, on the purpose of public art. Written by Erik Impson in response to this rather bland complaint by Richard LaMountain, it makes the classic fundamental error of other defenses of modern drivel art.

First, how bigoted is this?

I question your motives in choosing to publish Richard F. LaMountain's "Out with the abstruse, in with relevance" (Insight, May 16). While competent in grammar and structure, it relays an opinion that is not only undereducated but also hateful toward the arts.
Yeah, right on, brother... he disagrees with us modern artists, so lets censor him! He doesn't deserve to be published. Die, dissenters, die!

Okay, I'm being absurd. But do you see my point? LaMountain's view should not have been published because it conflicts with Impson's worldview. How accepting, for someone who goes on to make the art is expression fallacy:

Yet conformity is not art. Conformity is the antithesis of art, which is at its heart, expression.
Bzzzzzt. Wrong. Art is, and always has been, about beauty. While it is a form of expression, art is not synonymous with expression.

The problem with LaMountain's lackluster essay is that he associates the sucess of art with a dead culture -- Ancient Greece. Now there is nothing wrong with the Greek influence, but it presumes that Athens was more capable of greatness than we are today. I object to LaMountain's POV for the same reason that I rejected, a few days back, Totten's view of architecture. Both of them give up on the promises of the present and future.

But this does not mean we should go in the opposite direction, which says that " art... is at its heart, expression." That leaves the door open for all sorts of monstrous frauds, like cans of excrement and tinfoil sculpture, to be accepted as art.

It's easy to poke holes in Impson's argument by applying a little gradeschool algebraic theory: if X is true, it's opposite, Y, must be false. If something that does not conform is art, then something that does conform cannot be art. So then, by this reasoning, many of the greatest artworks of our culture's past are not, in fact, art at all. They are just some kind of pre-modern schmaltz.

Mona Lisa? OMG, it's... it's... it's representational! How tacky!

Modernism is dead, but the modernists are not, and they will never let go of the fiction that allowed mediocrity, and sometimes complete failure, masquerade as achievement. Instead they will keep modernism in a glass casket, and keep trying to park it, like Lenin's tomb, in the center of our towns....


The whole Creative Class schtick has been circulating the net for some time now, sourced from Richard Florida's book. Florida makes the argument that the industrial age is being replaced by the creative age, in which artists rule the economic ladder.

Florida seems to confuse "creative" with "information". In a way I can't blame him for trying to hitch the art wagon to the Information Revolution. Actually I think that is a good move. But the principles outlined seem a tad... Utopian.

Anyway, now Willamette Week has an article on how Florida's book is being used as a twisted form of economic development:

For many Portland arts leaders, this book is more than a bible -- it's a call to arms. For cash-starved arts organizations, it offers the hope of salvation in the form of government advocacy and funding. On the speaking circuit, Florida has become a star attraction. On the Friday before he spoke in Portland, he regaled a group of jaded newspaper editors at an alt-weekly convention in Pittsburgh wearing flip-flops and jeans. By Sunday he was here in a sharp suit.


In fact, Mayor Vera Katz established a Cultural Economy Initiative a year ago as a means to take up Florida's challenge and hired economic development specialist Rosie Williams to lead the charge. "We're asking artists what brings them here," says Williams. "And, more importantly, how can we keep them here."
Ummm... first, wouldn't artists have to, well, make money? I mean, we've never been known for being wealthy. Picasso was an abberation, not the norm.
Using various statistical data and indices, Florida shows that many cities in America have become magnets for high-tech and new technologies because they offer a rich, urban lifestyle along with a commitment to diversity.
Could it be he has that order reversed?

Meawhile, other artists are not taking so quickly to Vera's new passion, either:

"I'd prefer the city adopts tendencies rather than policies," says [executive co-director of 2 Gyrlz Performative Arts Llewyn] Máire. "They should be supportive without being intrusive." As one of the artists that met with the city, Máire noted the apprehension among peers: "When we were asked what we wanted, [filmmaker] Matt McCormick said, 'Leave us alone.'" Williams has sympathy for such criticisms: "We should really be in a backseat position."
Then came the killer paragraph:
But is taking any position necessary? Portland seems to be attracting creative people without municipal efforts, luring even a top-tier film director like Todd Haynes, who will tell anyone who asks that Portland's arts scene is one of its best selling points.
Slap me. I think I am hallucinating. Did WW just advocate market economics?

Interesting stuff, worth a full read through.