A new world is upon us. Are we really ready to deal with it? There is a lot of work being done by our regional leaders to help us with “recovery.”
Yet far too much time is being wasted these days on forging regional “relationships” for the purpose of increasing economic development. In essence what is happening is that regional leaders are simply trying to keep doing what worked for communities from the 1950s to the 1980s – smokestack chasing. In reality, that kind of economic development is dead, and has been for at least two decades.
Sure, the mantra is a little different now: we need the “creative class” to be our economic driver. We need clever people, mostly young, to come here and start companies that will provide lots of jobs and an expanding revenue stream. However, this is still smokestack chasing. It is still the belief that something from the outside will save us from our present predicaments and return us to our dream world.
Here’s the reality: we aren’t going back to that world. Yes, there will be some world-class individuals in this region who will thrive in the global economy. But what about the rest of us? We need to be preparing for the real future we face.
That future can be clearly laid out. The tipping point has been reached on climate change: the world is growing hotter faster than anyone had thought possible. This is resulting in new, weirder, and more destructive weather patterns. Peaking energy supplies combined with the desire to limit more carbon caused climate change will mean that distance, basic needs, and convenience will all be far more expensive than today. The global economy is now at the mercy of that peak in energy, as the costs to transcend distance becomes higher thus negating advantages of cheaper labor. And that labor isn’t as cheap as it once was anyway. Bottom line: goods from far away won’t be nearly so cheap anymore. Further, globalization has pushed down our wages, and the reset caused by this economic crisis will eliminate millions of jobs permanently. Lower wages and higher prices are looming for a society so completely addicted and dependent on cheap goods.
Our region’s leaders should be focused on a real regional agenda that will help us address these challenges. We need to be preparing for a regional future that is resilient and independent. To help us, I’ve created some thoughts about what we need to be doing. Continue reading