I hate it when Oregon makes the national news. It’s never a good thing. We don’t get noticed on the East Coast for our wineries, or for having a woman-founded butcher school. Apparently even the Unipiper can’t hold national attention. But when we are hotter than the rest of the planet save Death Valley, or on fire, or have dads blowing tear gas away from protesters with leaf blowers, then we get noticed. So when I heard “in OreGONE this week” on the news update while I was stuffing my daughter’s dirty camp clothes into the washer this afternoon, I held my breath.
Figure 1: Photo credit: Anna Campbell; TravelOregon.com
Apparently we are pretty much out of hospital beds in my adopted home state. Having just moved my now 88 year-old mother out here from Maryland, I was not amused. So while we watch COVID numbers climb at alarming rates across the country, I wonder (because it’s easier than thinking about the disease) how the economy will fare this fall. Clearly, we have learned some new tricks for doing business in various states of lockdown. Restaurants are still reeling, but tech companies are humming along fairly well. Some industries are flourishing, while some are probably in “innovate or perish” mode. That said, the numbers so far to date are impressive.
That rate of economic growth is probably unsustainable for more than a year or two. We will see it falter sooner, though, if we have to send kids back to online school and families can’t get safe childcare. More clearly than I can recall since September 2001, I find myself staring at a coin flip still in the air, wondering how it will land.
Securities markets seem less worried, however.
Perhaps, like me, they are excited that an infrastructure plan got past any level of legislative scrutiny at all. It has been a while since Keynes suggested paying people to dig holes and fill them up. Since then, many economists, including Keynes, have argued as to whether this was the right answer to the Great Depression. I find it difficult to imagine, however, how creating jobs that build things to improve our economic efficiency could fail to stimulate the economy. Fixing bridges might not seem exciting, but not falling into the Mississippi River is pretty cool, and employs lots of people for a while. Becoming efficient at geothermal energy drilling could make us as internationally competitive in sustainable energy as we have been in drilling for oil.
Figure 2: Ohio : Federal Art Project in Ohio, WPA, 1937.
These are big, not quick projects, and getting from A to B will undoubtedly be messy. Hopefully it will be the sort of thing we look back on and say, “Gosh that was hard, but I’m so glad we did it.” Speaking of which, those happen a lot in life! Having a baby, buying a house, getting a divorce, launching a small business – all messy and scary and exciting. We are here to help you through these transitions. Give us a holler!
 It’s OR-ih-gun, not ar-i-GONE. We’re not gone, we’re still here. So far.