I could hardly believe my eyes as I scanned the front page. ”Is it already April Fool’s Day?” I remember wondering. The date of that issue was March 29, 2011, a couple of days early for the annual day of playing practical jokes on one another.
What a completely bonehead issue for our legislature to consider. Did you know that our lawmakers voted in favor of House Concurrent Resolution 14, which adopts the ”Code of the West” as a guideline for Oregonians to live by? The code comes from James P. Owen of the Center for Cowboy Ethics and is noted for its concise instructions.
I shudder to think how much this is going to cost. I’m sure that there will be copies of the Code printed in every conceivable form and language, from pocket-sized cards to wall-mounted posters. PowerPoint presentations will no doubt be created to school state employees on this new directive. This is a total waste of time and money – all to remind us to ”Always finish what you start” and to ”Ride for the brand” and other gems of wisdom. How I wish our current elected officials would lead by example.
This was almost as ridiculous as our own county commissioners who back in 2006 squandered $250,000 of our hard-earned tax money to advertise Lane County’s ”lack of funds.” This was a classic example of one hand not knowing what the other is doing – or in this case, one hand out for money while the other is spending it.
Instead of figuring out ways to squander our money, our legislators should devise methods of increasing the amount of money coming into the state coffers. I’ve got a brilliant idea.
Beer has been a favorite beverage of Oregonians for nearly forever. ”Oregon, My Oregon,” the state song, calls Oregon the ”land of the empire builders.” Many historical publications and history pundits refer to legendary brewmaster Henry Weinhard as an ”Empire Builder.” It’s always been ”beer-thirty” in Oregon.
A study in 2016 by the Beer Institute shows that the beer industry directly and indirectly contributes over $7.4 billion – yes, that’s BILLION with a B – to Oregon’s economy. That figure includes over 20,000 jobs paying over $725,000,000 in wages and over $900,000,000 in federal, state and local taxes.
With 105 microbrew outlets in the greater Portland area, Portland ranks in the top 10 with 11 microbreweries and brewpubs per 100,000 members of its population as reported in a 2016 statistical analysis by Forbes. In sheer numbers, Portland has the most breweries and independent microbreweries of any city in the world. It’s no wonder that the Hipster hub is referred to as the Athens of Ale. It’s always ”beer-thirty” in Oregon.
Oregon almost single-handedly reversed the fortunes of Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) beer. Sales of PBR had been steadily plummeting since the mid-1970s until Portland’s counterculture discovered it. Since 2000, Oregon has been a top market for Pabst. According to 2008 sales data from Pabst Brewing Company, Oregon was the top PBR state in the nation. Portland was the top PBR city and Eugene-Springfield was ranked number eight in the nation. No, these aren’t watered down per-capita statistics; these numbers are based on raw sales of PBR. Kind of scary, ain’t it? It’s always ”beer-thirty” in Oregon.
So here’s my proposal: Move over milk – our lawmakers should designate beer the ”state beverage.” Naming rights should then be offered to the highest bidder. Just like Nike University does in Eugene, Pabst Brewing Company would surely pay lots of money to bribe Oregon’s beer-drinking public. Any expenses incurred by the change would be paid for by Pabst. The hipsters would buy mass quantities of PBR. Millions of hop-flavored dollars would roll into the state coffers. It’s a win-win.
While we’re on the subject of naming rights, Oregon should change its state song and sell it to the highest bidder too. I’m betting Pabst would be the top bidder in that contest as well. Go on, you can admit it, ”Oregon, My Oregon” is kind of dated. When was the last time you heard anyone sing it? Did you really know the name of the song? Does anybody know the lyrics to our state song? No, I don’t either.
It just so happens that there’s already a song that would be perfect. There’s no need to pay someone to compose a new one. And it fits perfectly with the thesis of the proposal I’ve outlined here. I have no doubt that every day at ”beer-thirty” as the beer-drinking public pounds back a cold PBR, they all will be singing the chorus of this sudsy anthem that reached the top 10 in 1973 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart and was Grammy-nominated that same year, sung by the late Johnny Russell: ”There’s no place that I’d rather be than right here, with my rednecks, white socks and Blue Ribbon Beer.”
Curt Deatherage is a columnist for The Creswell Chronicle and can be reached at 541 517-0963 or by emailing [email protected].