Are We Headed Down The Drain?

have always been fascinated with things that spiral and twist and turn.  I can remember in first grade we all did a "finger painting" project.  I drew a tornado in a corn field.  I had to explain to the teacher what it was because I never could draw very well.  It was the corn stalks that gave me trouble, but the tornado I had down pat.  And, that toy gyro - I never did figure it out - yet it transfixed me.

From the whirlpool in the bath tub drain to tornados, hurricanes, orbits of the moon and planets, to the swirling galaxies of the universe, there is this ubiquitous circularity to all things.  Even our current economic decline fits nicely into the spiral definition.

It is not comforting in the least when our president-elect suggests that without massive government intervention our current recession could spiral downward for years.

I've been through a lot of up-turns, down-turns and right or left at Oak St's.  But I haven't seen an economic gyration that frightens me like this one does.  I look constantly for something positive but the swirl of escalating bad news is overpowering.

Some counts show up to 2.6 million jobs lost last year alone - 1.9 million just since the Lehman collapse.  Investment banks, brokerages and financial institutions shed jobs like fuzzy quadrupeds in May.  Boatloads of cheap junk made by cheap labor swallowed even more.  Morally bankrupt companies that exploit undocumented foreign laborers for higher profits abound.  A collapsing housing market lost jobs along with industries that supplied them.  But the big job losses are probably yet to come as consumer confidence heads further into the basement and wallets remain in hip pockets.

You can't blame the common guy and gal for cinching up to protect their own personal welfare. To do otherwise is foolhardy.  Yet it does add momentum to the downward spiral as businesses cope with lower income and profits by laying off workers.  Many businesses will probably close altogether forcing millions more into a job market with no vacancies.  The nightly news reinforces our fears.

Kingman has always been sheltered somewhat from the economic swings of the past.  But this time will probably prove to be different.  Ranching and cattle raising here is not what it used to be.  We are relying more on industries at the airport that service the construction and housing industry.  Interstate 40 traffic drops a lot of money in town.  As all of these get squeezed - Kingman and its residents will also be squeezed.

The bastion of job creation in this area has been government and those entities that have taxing authority - like schools, the college, fire districts, city and county.  That job door has largely been slammed shut and the likelihood of some layoffs in those realms is more than real.  Even the growth industry of health care is slowing.

The state of Arizona is in dire financial straits because those we entrusted to manage the state's finances fell flat on their face.  And though they bemoan their falling revenues the fact remains that we did not arrive at this spot overnight but it has in fact been in the making for two years.  Failure to act responsibly is indeed a serious matter.  Which brings us to the City of Kingman.

The city's good financial planning seems to have adequately sidestepped the severe financial pain that many other Arizona cities are suffering right now.  As the city enters the planning sessions for the next budget this new council has an element that leans towards tax and fee increases to maintain city spending levels.  Ignoring that belt tightening is the proper answer to revenue shortfalls will be a painful lesson if it is learned later rather than sooner.  Let's keep our fingers crossed that the right decisions are forthcoming after those budget talks.

Today's question is - should the city remain extra frugal with its financial reserves or should they invest some in projects to create jobs in Kingman or raise taxes so they can maintain spending levels and avoid layoffs?

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