Calling Me Stupid Does NOT Make You Smart

Calling Me Stupid Does NOT Make You Smart

by Doyle Ranstrom on May 24, 2023

A couple of days ago I was done playing pickle ball and visiting with a couple of guys.  One was leaving for the summer.  I asked where to, and he said a city south of Portland, OR.  I said "I love Oregon" and have biked across it twice, north to south and west to east.  I also said I have close family who live in Portland, love the city, and spend a lot of time there.  He then went off on Portland basically describing it, and I am paraphrasing, as a "urine smelling cess pot".  

After some more colorful descriptions, I told him I respectfully disagree.  He then told me I do not live there, I am ignorant and walked away.  Well, calling me "stupid" or ignorant does not make him smart.  And this is true for anyone who calls someone else stupid.

I do not live in Portland, but for the record, neither does he.  But I would not be surprised that I have spent more time in urban Portland then he has over the past few years since my close family live about a mile from downtown.  

I agree Portland has significant problems, but so does every other urban area in the US.  And for that matter, so do many if not most rural areas.  But let's also look at some measurements of a city.  

  • The Portland real estate market continues to be strong.  According to one real estate source, currently the median market value of a residence is $519,000 and inventory is less than 2 months which is more of a seller's market than buyers.  That means generally more buyers than sellers.  After increasing market values for years, like other cities in the US, the real estate market declined last year consistent with the Fed's increases in interest rates.  However, now that mortgages have stabilized, the increase in market values seems have begin to again.  One reason is people continue to want to live and work in Portland.  
  • Another indicator is GDP.  Portland and surrounding area is ranked 25th out of 384 cities in GDP.  
  • An article dated November, 2022 regarding crime statistics ranked Portland 21st out of 40 major cities.  Not the worst, not the best, in the middle.  

I am not saying Portland does not have problems, it does.  One significant problem is the homeless population.  Also, population growth seems to have flattened the past couple of years.  

  • Note:  Homeless is a National difficult and complicated problem and not subject of this commentary, though it will be in the future.  

Portland also has great beauty.  Neighborhoods that are full of flowers and well maintained houses.  I have been to the Zoo, Rose Gardens, many parks, played golf at several courses, walked in neighborhoods and biked throughout Portland.  Also checked out a number of restaurants, coffee shops and food trucks.  Does this make me an expert on Portland?  Absolutely not, but does provide me with some local experience.  

Portland has many individuals and groups working to make the city better.  One example is Augustana Lutheran which is part of a faith group working towards the reduction of gun violence in Portend and Oregon.  

Recently, I was watching a local news show in Tucson, AZ and they had a feature on preschool in Portland, OR.  The preschool was an example of new program in Portland which provides free preschool to 3 and 4 year olds.  Safe, quality, and affordable preschool is National problem and Portland overwhelming voted yes on measure to make it affordable for all familles.  

  • And yes, there are increased taxes for this program.  For joint filers, there is a 1.5% on taxable income above $200,000.  There is additional 1.5% tax on taxable income in excess of $400,000.  For example, a family with taxable income of $150,000 would not pay the tax.  A family with taxable income of $300,000 would pay $1,500.  If you divide $15,000 by $327,700 which includes the standard deduction it is 0.46% of taxable income.  
  • What are the households who qualify for the program going to do with cash flow that previously went to preschool?  They will spend it, most likely in Portland.  Some on family necessities, others on lifestyle.  And it will make a Portland more attractive to households with young families or planning to start one.  

That brings us to the big question, am I stupid?  My new friend obviously thought so.  I certainly have done stupid things and probably will continue to do so.  But I really do not think I am stupid, wrong at times, but not stupid.  What I do try to be is thoughtful and informed.  

What is really sad about this event is I never told the individual he was wrong, I just said, twice actually, I respectfully disagree.  For him, not agreeing with him made me wrong or ignorant.  But this is an American problem.  We are so busy telling each other  "I'm right, your wrong, you are going to hell" we have forgot how to listen to each other.  

"Calling someone stupid does not make you smart" is one of my life mottos.  Another is "intelligent  thoughtful people can disagree without being disagreeable".

The end of this particular story, at least so far, is I saw the gentlemen the next day at the pickle ball courts.  I walked up to him, said my name and said I apologize if I offended him.  He said he knows who I am, also apologized, we shook hands and then hugged it out.  Ok, let's be clear, it was an incredibly awkward guy hug, but a hug never the less.  

He's a  good guy.  I try to be a good person and this is learning moment for many of us.  The start to dealing with many of our problems is not name calling, but being informed, listening to each other, and bring fact based information to the table.  The vast majority of us are good people, we have to treat each other in this manner.  

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