There’s a saying among sailors that ‘you sail in the wind that you’ve got.’
That means that you neither anticipate the future nor live in the past, but pay attention to present realities.
So how about the economy? How ‘bout all those leading indicators – employment, GDP growth and consumer confidence, which show a recovering economy? And let’s not forget the booming stock market, up nearly 40 percent from its March low. Happy days are here again, right?
I don’t think so.
As Bob Dylan put it, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.
Historically, our city’s economy has had four important components.
1. Military spending.
2. Military spending.
3. Real estate.
4. Everything else.
For the moment, the military sector is doing a good job of propping up the economy. So all we have to do is sit tight and wait for the return of the Glory Days of yore, when homebuilders pulled 5,000 houses out of the ground annually, and high-tech grandees such as Intel built billion-dollar factories, and city sales tax collections soared and … what??!!
You mean the good times aren’t coming back?
I sure hope that they will – but why should they? As UCCS economist Fred Crowley pointed out nearly a month ago in the Quarterly Updates and Estimates prepared by the Southern Colorado Economic Forum, per capita sales tax collections within the city during 2009 “will probably be down at least 25 percent compared to 1999.”
Crowley attributes this slow-moving catastrophe to the flight of big-box retailers to the county, to Internet purchases, to the loss of high-paying jobs since 2001, and to the current recession. He suggests that the city respond by “redevelopment of blighted areas, infilling, revitalization, and a more diversified economic base.”
That’s fine – but the city is broke and getting broker, voters are in no mood to cough up the dough to fund revitalization/redevelopment and the highest-paying jobs around are those being offered to would-be employees at the new Kohl’s.
We’re stuck in neutral – and unless we want to start accelerating backward, we’d better hope that the world remains a nasty, dangerous place. World peace? Bah, humbug!