"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

The dwindling of a myth

A whole lot of the west still gets described as cowboy country. Wyoming has one on its license plates, and Idaho’s governor still goes out of his way to get described that way, but eastern Oregon and Washington fit the description too.

Or they have. Just how many cowboys in the usual meaning – that of handlers and managers of livestock and range areas, and not in practice usually referred to as “cowboys” – are there?

In Oregon, apparently, somewhat fewer than 2,500, in a state of somewhat over three and a half million people.

So says a new (and strongly-recommended) piece in the Oregonian about unemployment in the trade, how many ranchers who not long ago would often provide jobs for quite a few cow hands now can no longer do that. And that’s despite marginal pay: An estimated $10.26 on hour.

An icon, it seems, that doesn’t get paid much anymore.

Question: What’s the cowboy population in Idaho?

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