Sunday, July 17, 2011

Layers of Irony.

Sometimes I can't believe how rich the irony in some stories.

So a year or two ago, if memory serves, a rather high powered real estate agent, Lawnae Hunter, (I believe she came from the great state of California) decided that we local hicks were going about this real estate analysis thingy all wrong.

We needed to hire an outside professional to come and tell us what's really, really, happening to our economy.

Well, I have some sympathy for that notion.

What you had then were bubble bloggers, who most readers just rolled their eyes at, (I suppose we came off as cranks except for the little fact that we were usually right) and you had the 'professional' real estate folks, who were so immersed in their world that they couldn't see past their own noses, and who resorted to knee jerk reactions of "Best time to Buy!" and "The Market has hit Bottom!"

The media didn't know which way to turn. After years of collecting ad revenue from the real estate market, suddenly it was clear that --well, things were going wrong.

So the local media has swung back and forth over the last few years -- trending toward the "things are getting better" camp, but still willing to publish the occasional inconvenient fact.

Anyway, back to this outside "expert" they hired. Bill Watkins.

I'm pretty sure they expected him to give us all some good news. And he tried. He really really tried. He had a list of prescriptions for our economic health that sounded hopeful and helpful. Except, as any of us bubble bloggers would have told you, most of these solutions weren't going to work in Bend because of the unique nature of our location and resources.

But they sounded good.

At the same time, though, he was willing to point out the dangers to our economy and warn that it was going to take a long time to recover EVEN IF his rosy solutions took hold.

Turns out, the more physical distance he actually has from Bend, the more realistic he is.

According to the article in the Sunday Bulletin, he gave a very negative picture of Central Oregon to a Portland radio station.

"I don't pull punches," he said.

So the irony is, this "Deschutes Economic Alliance" which originally was going to pay the fellow, has asked the County to help pay for it.

And the County doesn't want to pay, because the message is "negative." (Not whether it's true or not, they just don't like his tone, apparently.)

So what about the business folk who banded together to create this survey? Hey, they are "pursuing a fundraising initiative to assure its solvency for the next five years."

Which means, what?, they are willing to pay for a objective outside expert who will tell them the opposite of what they really want to hear?

Good luck with that.

The high powered founder "could not be reached for comment." Big surprise Another grand plan that the founder assured would be -- to paraphrase -- 'easy, don't worry about it, it will all be paid for...'

The Deschutes Economic Alliance -- which I'm betting is filled with members who really don't like the government much -- nevertheless see nothing wrong in asking the County to save their ass.

The expert, meanwhile, wasn't expert enough to see that he might not get paid.

I want to repeat that irony -- the expert wasn't quite expert enough to figure out he might not get paid.

Nevertheless, he was willing to be blunt about our prospects:

"They're in bad shape," he says about us, "with an unemployment rate ranging from just a little below 15 percent to over 17 percent...

"Home prices have just been decimated, still are very weak."

Here's the most ironic statement of all -- and a sure indicator of the mindset of our government and business leaders:

"County Commissioner Tammy Baney said that Watkins' comments went against the Deschutes Economic Alliance's goal to change the region's image from 'poverty with a view' to 'possibilities with a view.'"


So, we want your objective assessment -- but only as long as we agree with it?

I think they don't understand the words "objective" or "facts". The intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy are so immense that I have to believe that these people have never had to think rigorously and logically in their life.

Look, you can't hire an "outside" expert for his "objective assessment" and then not pay him when he doesn't tell you what you want to hear! (Another lawsuit, costing us much more than the original tab anyone?)

More dangerously, to us citizens of Deschutes County and our budgets, she seems to think the whole problem is a public relations issue.

"Factual yet positive" she demands.

Good God!

So what happens if the facts aren't positive? We'll only pay you if you whitewash the facts, fellow. (Pay attention, whatever expert they hire next! Pay attention citizens, to the quality of the report what will ensue.....)

I'm amazed that someone in a position of authority, with millions of tax dollars in her power, could say something so ridiculous out-loud.

Well, I would be amazed, if I hadn't heard similar thinking out of our local business community and local government before, during, and after the crash.

The irony is so rich, I feel sick to my stomach.


Duncan McGeary said...

You have to read the article to get the full scope of the intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy.

And the gobsmacking realization that these guys don't even realize they are being intellectually dishonest because they've never been taught to be logical, apparently.

Duncan McGeary said...

I'd really like to hear from Paul-doh and Buster and BEM and Bruce and the rest of the old gang about this. it and weep.

Dan said...

I miss the bubble blog. You guys helped me see how wrong things were going and where we were headed ( thanks to Mish too) and I dumped my house and business just in time. I would love to hear from Paul Doh and BEM again!

Anonymous said...

Ray Kuratek comes to my mind. Deep in his 24 page contract he had a clause that said "$2.5M I walk, if you fold". Why didn't the latest 'consultant' do this? Because the contract was written with a private party and not the 'deep pocket' of government. Now the private party is trying to transfer this contract to the gubmint after the fact, not so much that the message was wrong.

You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's milk sack. Bend is fucked, Bend is a remote exhausted resource town. Nobody can promote Bend from what it was in the day, which was better "poverty with a view", to what it is now, 'pollution & poverty, without a view'. It's too late, nobody.

I have said many times, humpty-dumpty has been knocked off the wall, and he can't be put back together again.

Nothing new here move along. The DEM's best jobs in the city no surprise that the PUG's want to have their own consultants. The difference is the PUG's have their private cigar clubs promote their message, and the DEM's use government funded 'clubs' to promote their agenda's. WHO is smarter?? PUG's like to talk about not using PUBLIC money, and DEM's see all money as public.

The only level of irony here is that PUG's don't seem to be able to beat the DEM's at their own game. Well from my point of view, its only because the money is GONE. Point 2 is that even the private cigar-boyz aren't stupid, putting GOOD MONEY into Bend is Bend stupid. OK, to put GUBMENT money into promoting Bend, but only a fucking IDIOT would take good private money to hire a consultant to promote Bend, and lure more tourists to bring their life savings here to be squandered.

H. Bruce Miller said...

Alan Unger's comments were even dumber. Tony DeBone was the only one with the sense (and/or balls) to say, "Hey, the guy's just stating the facts."

"I'd really like to hear from Paul-doh and Buster and BEM and Bruce and the rest of the old gang about this."

I will be writing a post for Bend Sux shortly. Just got back from Portland.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Duncan. And comment by Buster. Methinks Paul-doh is no longer around...

Anonymous said...

BEM & HOMER are still around, they're just busy with their lives and trying to make money. They're both younger guys, with family's.

Not like us old farts with nothing else to do buy daily look up dunc's site and see if its relevant or topical.

Perhaps today you have a tier, where you have the young 10-30 that can play much with facebook&twitter, then middle age 30-50 trying to make a buck, and then the 60+ crowd trying to connect.

Normal cycle of life in my mind, when we're young we have time for friends 5-30, then do the family and turn inward for money, then after family is gone turn outward again.

I really think HOMER&BEM are both CPA type guys, and they didn't really have any savings which is typical of most 'experts', so now they have to play catch-up with lost time, which even makes playing on the NET ( blogging ) more meaningless. Perhaps when BEM&HOMER 'win' the orygun-lotto they'll return, having much time to burn.

Bend Economy Man said...

Well, I love seeing an article like that.

Typically the local powers that be are pretty smart about what they say. So it's hard to catch them behaving badly.

For those of us who know that the local poo-bahs and boosters are the biggest hypocrites in the world, are corrupt (maybe not suitcases-of-cash corrupt, but certainly ends-justify-the-means corrupt) and incompetent and don't have a principled bone in their body, and that they know for a fact that the local economy is an unsustainable house of cards built on quicksand (and has been for a long time) but consider it their job to lie every day to the public -- well every once in a while it's nice to see the mask come off.

As you know I really enjoy being right, even if I'm right anonymously.

Duncan McGeary said...

I thought the Bulletin kind of whiffed the issue in this morning's editorial.

They came down on the side of the county NOT paying for the study because...

well, actually, their reasons why weren't clear.

Anonymous said...

Yes BEM is right, and was right.

Yep its quick-sand, ... and most will die a slow and miserable high-desert death.

Shit stuff is going to shit now.

Europe is at the 11th hour, and OREO has just agreed to invade IRAN next month on the behalf of Israel.
US is trying to start a war in the south-sea with china, and vietnam is now in hyperinflation.
Just need a little gray/black-swan, and the whole fucking thing is coming down.
p.s. the US T-bill got downgraded to aa, but you'll not hear about it much in the press.

Quimby said...

Cognitive dissonance reigns supreme and is quite a comfortable state amongst the public.

None but rational critical thinkers would catch the irony Dunc.