At the end of 2013, United Van Lines checked moving tickets for the year and found the greatest percentage of people for whom the company hauled household goods went to one state. Oregon.
More than 61% of all interstate moves made in Oregon last year were for people coming from some other place. Lest you think this is some small sampling, the company tracked 129,000 trips in the country for the period. And Oregon topped the pack. Washington D.C. had led the list for the previous five years but – in 2013 – dropped to fourth,
Why Oregon? Why do so many folks want to come here? What is it about the place? What makes our real estate so desirable? Oh, lots of answers could be the Pacific Ocean, the Cascades, Mt. Hood, a good and varied climate, better environment, outdoor activities, cleaner water, better air quality and on and on,. You hear all those a lot.
My take is – as usual – different. I think people come here because we’ve “got our s*%t together.”
“Oh, Momma, look what he said!”
Well, it’s true. We do have it together. Especially politically. Compared to a couple dozen other states, we’re downright – rational. Oh, we’ve got some dim bulbs and political zeroes. One of them is actually the chairman of the Oregon Republican Party. But we’ve got him right out there on a stick where he can be seen so we know what foil-hat-idiocy he’s up to. That’s different. In North and South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas – especially Texas – residents have allowed them to go underground – into the legislatures and governor’s bedrooms. Real folks lost control.
But here – in Oregon – we’ve kept the system pretty balanced and most of the loonies penned up. When you think back a couple of years, we ran an evenly divided House of Representatives with dual Speakers from different parties and duplicate committee chairs and, all in all, it went very, very well. How many other states could do that today? The two major parties get along most of the time around here. That sort of sends messages to folks in other states that we’ve “got our s*%t together.”
“Good Lord, Momma. He said it again.”
And it’s still true. Nobody here is trying to stop “undesirables” from voting. Nobody here is living under legislated “uterus attacks.” The governor is not talking secession. We’re not drug-checking people who just happen to be unemployed at the moment for whatever reason. We’re not even making food stamp recipients take a leak in a bottle!
Idaho, for example, used to have a slogan: “Idaho is what American was” which they really can’t say anymore ‘cause the nation’s reddest state is falling further behind with an increasingly flat earth contingent that has pretty well contaminated government. Idahoans have lost control. Oregon’s Republicans and Democrats still “Howdy” each other and the state is better for that. “Oregon is still what it was,” I guess.
We, in Oregon, even vote differently than voters in most other states. By mail. And it works! The only fraud we’ve had in recent years was a couple of over-zealous office volunteers messing up a few ballots. We caught ‘em. I think they were escorted to the border. Idaho, maybe.
We’ve got a lot of clean industry percolating along in a relatively stable economy that’s the envy of lots of other states. Our tax base is stable. We’re welcoming to the retired who like our more moderate ways. We’ve got an education system that – for the most part – is the envy of others. We’re not on top but we’re a long way from the bottom. Just goin’ along.
With the possible exception of three or four Southwest Oregon counties, we value diversity. Not just because it makes things more colorful. But because it adds value to our economy. It’s good for business – our neighborhoods – our relationships with each other – and it works wonders when raising our kids.
I’m not surprised at the United Van Lines numbers. But I don’t think our attractiveness to outsiders is all the doing of the media advertising programs out of Salem. No, I think a lot of people want to come here because they don’t hear the name “Oregon” bandied about in negative media messages. Stories about racial profiling or purging unwanted minorities from voter registrations or a legislature hellbent on criminalizing lifestyles and personal choices. We aren’t known for sending little people to Congress wearing tin beanies who put chewing gum in the wheels of democracy. We have a relatively quiet and productive political system that usually functions as it should. We sort of hold to the moderate path in all things.
For folks from Oregon reading this in other places, I’d bet you miss the place and harbor some thoughts about eventually “coming home.” For others who aren’t firsthand familiar with the place, you’ll likely come on out for a visit one of these days. And when you do, there’s good chance you’ll like what you see. You might even call United Van Lines and make it permanent. ‘Cause we’ve got out s*%t together.”
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