In the past week or so, several reports have come across my desk suggesting that the economic worm may be turning. Being a card-carrying skeptic, I have yet to experience any overwhelming desire to rush down to the mall, but there are some subtle indicators to recovery, nonetheless.
We’re all used to seeing or hearing about this person, or that business that has gone belly-up in the wake of the downturn … situations truly fraught with sincere drama and despair. Rarely the focus of reportage, however, are the far greater number of people and companies alike who have survived, continue to cope with hardship, and now are growing eager to cast off the depressing pall that has enveloped us far longer than any of us cares to remember.
While construction will not come close to being a leading indicator of incipient recovery, there are forces beyond residential and commercial building starts that are making their presence known … forces that can be denied for only so long having to do with the increasingly deplorable state of our basic infrastructure. There are communities, no doubt, where the streets, underground utilities, and stormwater systems are just hunky-dory, but if you’re living in one of these, (a) don’t move and (b) you probably don’t need to work for a living anyway. For the rest of us, it’s rumble-bump-bump, splursh, and what happened to the lights?
These have to do with conditions we pay our elected officials to oversee, but as you may have noticed, many of these stewards have been more interested in socking the public’s largesse away in their own coffers than taking care of business. I’m thinking specifically of the stink that’s arising in the small and not noticeably affluent community of Bell, CA, with its top-of-the-line politicians and managers making movie-star wages while the rest of the town goes … well why not … to hell.
Is the situation in Bell an anomaly? Apparently not, as citizens around the country are beginning to get crusty in their heightened interest in “where did the money go.” Just as news anchorman Howard Beale in the movie, Network, proclaimed, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more”, just this last week, some of the go-along media are warming to the prospect. This is, to me, one of the surest signs that recovery is not only possible, but immanent.