Klamath County — at or near 10% unemployment for over six years straight. Many are homeless. Many are on State or Federal subside programs while at the same time almost everyone employed by a government agency has not felt one drop of the economic tragedy since the housing collapse of 2008.
So the leftists go to work. They are going to bring economic prosperity through more programs, better public school buildings (not education), more parks and improved public safety. But that is not how the real world works. Improving those items are nice, and may earn one accolades by fellow citizens because it all sounds so wonderful and noble. However, that is not how to build a local economy.
From 2002-2008, Klamath County was in a boom period (as was most of the nation). Much of Klamath’s economic fortunes were based on Californian’s taking advantage of their inflated property values and cashing out to move north. Many moved to places like Klamath Falls Running Y Ranch. Others moved to residential neighborhoods in Klamath Falls. The building industry was bursting at the seams with new construction almost everywhere. JELD-WEN was riding the wave high and employed many with good salaries and benefits — enriching the local economy. But when the housing market bubble burst, there was nothing to replace the building industry’s boom in order to continue the good times in Klamath County.
Leftist always turn to government for the answer. If they can just seed the market with money (from somewhere) that will get the good times rolling again. That is exactly what Obama’s 2009 Economic Stimulus Plan was supposed to do. But all the Stimulus of 2009 did was make local governments bigger. Sure “important” infrastructure projects were completed in Klamath County, such as brand new sidewalks in Beatty, Bonanza, and Merrill. But this type of spending only lasted for a time. The Stimulus did not create real wealth, just a short-term illusion of employment and economic activity. It was like a drug addict who got a fix and during the high thought all was well. But when the high was over, another fix was needed. In the same manner, we cannot build prosperity on always needing another fix — hoping for another Stimulus. To do so is economic insanity: borrowing and printing money until everyone is prosperous. Utter nonsense.
Each year over $200,000,000 is siphoned out of Klamath County and deposited in the Rogue Valley. Why? Because, consistent competition in the Rogue Valley allows for more choices and often better pricing than can be found in Klamath.
So part of solving our economic puzzle is to give local residents better reasons to spend money in Klamath County rather than in the Rogue Valley. Simply, keeping local money local helps the local economy. This makes sense. But we need market forces providing these incentives, not government road blocks erected to falsely persuade people to keep their money here in Klamath County.
Another part of the solution is for Klamath leaders to recognize that Klamath County is located in remote part of the state. Klamath County is not on the I-5 corridor nor is it near a major metropolitan area. Those things matter to most people and most businesses. Maybe being remote doesn’t matter as much if you grew up here and have lived here your entire life here, or if you moved to Klamath to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. However, the fact is most Americans like big cities and the benefits of those cities (despite all the problems that come with so many people living so close together). Klamath County is at an economic disadvantage because of its remote location when compared to Deschutes or Jackson counties. Until leaders are willing to admit, rather than sugar coat this fact, the right solutions to economic prosperity will not be enacted. Understanding reality is step 1 to economic recovery.
So given the facts that each year Klamath County is leaking a ton of wealth to the Rogue Valley (which they do not reciprocate) and that Klamath County is located in a remote area where people do not naturally come to live or work, what is the answer? The answer is simple. Make Klamath County so economically attractive that people and businesses cannot afford to stay away. Klamath County needs to strive to be the most affordable county in the state for businesses. For businesses currently in the county, we need to lower the burden on those businesses, so that they can become exceptionally profitable. At the same time we need to lure new businesses by showing them how much money they are losing by not locating here.
New school buildings, sidewalks and more police cars sound nice, but actually increase the cost of doing business in Klamath County. Adding more taxing districts and more levies on citizens and businesses will not bring about more economic activity to Klamath County, but actually deter it. If we want to keep Oregon Tech students here after they graduate, then we need to ensure there are good paying jobs for them. That is accomplished by having profitable businesses located in the county. And that is done by lowering the taxes, fees and regulations. The biggest way government can help is not by inserting itself into every transaction with a program here and a program there to “help the community”. Instead government needs to get out of the way. Less government leads to greater prosperity. More government leads to less prosperity. Funny how that works, yet leftists continue to bring new taxing programs to our ballot every election cycle.
Let us be a people who stand for less government and more liberty, so that our county can return to economic prosperity instead of living in economic insanity.