Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Driving through the back lot of Bend Studios

Well, that's what this town is starting to look like: a deserted back lot at a movie studio. Sub-division streets with cheat grass growing in the curbs, a few lonely-looking completed houses, and tattered flags. Every block has for sale and for rent signs. Office buildings have "for lease" signs as big as the windows.

Our daily Bull has eternally optimistic reporting about the local economy. It's sort of sad, I think...for a few seconds before I snarl at their bullshit. Everything, according to the paper is right on the cusp of turning around, home sales are "looking up," and we won't mention the vacant house inventory—or the vacant office and retail space. I feel like I'm living in some bizarre replay of earlier times in America, when the boosters hustled the gullible, and things went boom and bust, boom and bust, over and over. It's the American dream: get in on the bust and get out on the boom. Good luck on that.

You cannot have a town, a city that grows and grows without a solid economic base. We never had that here. The forests turned out to be, surprise!, essentially a non-renewable resource. The trees were cut down much faster than they could replenish the forests. The climate is not good for agriculture—it's OK, but it snowed today, April 14th and that doesn't say much about a long growing season. Our water supply is limited; it's great country for antelopes and jack rabbits. There's no manufacturing to speak of, and the only commerce is retail. Tourists are our biggest economic resource. Don't get much tourism during a depression. Maybe a lot of people moving around, but they're looking to earn, not spend. No room here, sorry.

Another bubble has busted, another boom has ended.

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