The Nose is worried.
It wasn't always this way. Panic once was swatted away like a bothersome fly. The Nose used to be a Sunday regular at the church of "You have nothing to fear but fear itself." But the Nose isn't so sure anymore.
Since Sept. 11, the Schnozz has developed an almost bottomless capacity for fear. It's not fear of anthrax in the mail, smallpox in the air, al Qaeda in first class or the FBI in our web browsers. Plenty of other people are worrying about these developments. What the Nose fears are events no one is paying attention to. They include:
* That the U.S. Senate will agree with House Republicans (including Oregon's Greg Walden), who last week exploited Sept. 11 to pass a $100 billion tax cut. Masked as an economic stimulus package, it's really a huge corporate giveaway that benefits a few large companies, including General Electric, IBM and Enron (for details, visit www.ctj.org).
* That the governor's race will remain devoid of any new ideas. The Nose has met five of the six main candidates and not one of them has anything of interest to say--as yet. If the Nose hears a candidate utter the phrase "we're at a crossroads" one more time, he's gonna blow. Now here's a scary thought: Will Kevin Mannix be the only seeker of the job to have any bold thoughts before the May primary?
* That city commissioner (and mayoral wannabe) Charlie Hales and his chief of staff (and city commissioner wannabe) Ron Paul aren't taking care of business. Rather than staying home and attending to Portland's budget crunch, both are on an 11-day joyride to China to visit a bronze foundry that wants to donate a sculpture to Portland.
* That the Portland school district will continue to dither about Whitaker Middle School. For a district with too much real estate and too few students, the answer to the future of this toxic building should be clear: a For Sale sign.
* That many will overlook the biggest news in the state: Oregon's unemployment rate of 6.4 percent, the second-highest in the nation. For a state that once prided itself on reducing its dependence on the interest-rate-sensitive lumber industry, our current financial fortunes are now clearly just as precarious. Our reliance on trade with Japan (arguably the most wretched economy in the first world) and semiconductors (Intel, Oregon's largest employer, is considered by some to be among the worst-run big businesses in America) has some wondering if this state is sitting on the trash heap of economic also-rans.
* That charity will die. As one piece of evidence, consider that last week Oregon Special Olympics announced it was axing staffers since donations have dropped off after Sept. 11.
* And finally, that the most exciting thing about this year's Trail Blazers will be the challenge of learning to pronounce Boumtje-Boumtje. Now that's scary.