Sitting here, looking at the pines through my window on this picture-perfect, sunny Oregon day, I wonder what I can possibly write that will make a difference? I was born in this beautiful state, and outwardly it looks much the same now as it did all those years ago: breath-taking coastline vistas, rugged mountain ranges, valleys plentiful with fields of grass seed and produce, and high desert country to satisfy the most ardent outdoorsman.
And yet, beneath nature's facade is a state rife with systemic economic failure. The mean state unemployment rate (8.4%) is above the national average (8.2%). However, some areas, such as my home town of Bend (Deschutes county) are currently at a dismal 10.3% unemployment despite boasting some of the nation's finest fishing, skiing, boating, hunting, golf and other recreational activities. Oregon also carries a debt of load of over $34.6 bil, in spite of an endless store of possible revenue sources.
How is it that a state so plentiful in natural resources carries such an overwhelming debt burden? Consider that 11 million acres of Oregon timberland (40% of all forests) is now sequestered and sheltered from harvest by the feds! So the elites in DC, many of whom have never visited our fair state, nor met a logger, are presumptively declaring much of Oregon a national park of sorts. Thus, our renewable resources are now an aging, over-managed tinder-box listed as a trophy for some ecologically-minded, endangered species-touting, beltway do-gooder.
Further, Oregon's state business taxes and regulatory fees have made this the 42nd best state for business. That's 42nd out of 50! (no Obama, not 57) A state of 98,380 square miles (9th largest state), and population of only 3.87 million is lagging behind 41 other states! We have rich soil, a wonderful growing season, pure water and air, ports, rivers, forests and hard-working Oregonians, and yet are tethered to restrictive policies and regulations. At this point in Oregon's great history the only creatures flourishing may be the poor Northern Spotted Owl and Mountain Pine Beetle!
For some 35-40 years my state has been the special project of non-sensical, eco-fanatics who have put everything but people first! Whole logging towns have become skeletons of the thriving communities they once were. Driving over the scenic North Santiam Pass from Bend to Salem, once vibrant townships have given way to boarded up businesses, and awe-inspiring forests resemble spotty, post-chemo hair growth following fires of beetle-ravaged pines.
I realize this is just one state--my state. But Oregon is surely a reasonable representation of the eventual result of unbridled, unjustified and unprecedented progressive ruling and legislation. Those gate-keepers--the education and media elite--have succeeded in grooming a generation that sincerely believe humans are the avowed enemy of the planet. In their upside-down world-view, whales and seals are more important than babies and old-growth timber is infinitely more precious than old loggers.
We are now reaping what these entrenched environmentalists have sown: a severe economic recession as well as mis-handled and over-managed natural resources! I would bet cash money that the average logger has a far greater knowledge and respect for the outdoors and our forests than the typical beltway, save-the-planet, bureaucrat or activist. The farmers I know here love the land and understand being a good neighbor and a good caretaker of said land, as well as making a profit from their crops.
For too many years we, and by we I mean hard working, America-loving people, have been unengaged and allowed the left to take-over our schools, our government and our institutions. The progressives have improved nothing except their eco and ideologue scorecards. Well it's time. It's time for all of us supposed "fly-over" citizens to wake up and make our voices heard. It's time we engaged and fought for what we know to be right and good and true. It's time to educate those beltway legislators and re-calibrate their priorities: people come first!