Friday, March 22, 2013
So Here We Are - A bit More Regional
By 2010 I think the main effects of the downturn were hitting this part of the world the hardest, or the first wave was finally washing up here in more ways than just halted construction projects. Around that time we noticed a large number of stray animals, more abandoned cars along the roadways and much reduced traffic all over. 2011 and the Summer of 2012 also saw huge increases in regional farm crime and home invasions along with large numbers of reports on failing infra-structure.
By this Winter however all these signs and reports seem to have stopped. Traffic also seems to be up again where stores were empty last year they now seem to be packed once again.
It sometimes makes one wonder if a recovery isn't actually going on at times until you step back anyway and really take in the whole picture. Of all the communities within my regional area only one appears to be actually adding businesses and growth and that one has almost a direct pipeline to Federal Education Money. The other communities began voicing loud concerns over budgets and revenue this last Fall. Many have begun removing some of the bloat from their management staff with cushy early retirement schemes.
Crime was growing and reported often last Summer but as usual Winter seems to be a time when crime is reduced so what the warmer weather may bring us this year is anyone's guess.
Despite all the activity I am seeing at the stores and malls along with a bit more normal local road traffic some main arteries like the interstate still seem to have markedly reduced congestion. Seven years ago those main highways looked like a futuristic metropolis at rush hour with the long haul traffic. It seems that type of traffic has not yet come back and the cries for adding another lane, that were so prevalent back in 2006, are now not even mentioned.
Last Summer I began noticing black Hummers in a few towns that couldn't even boast a population of 12,000 people. Really they need hummers? One incident in particular I parked next to a regional smaller town's hummer and saw nothing but black vehicle, black uniforms and Bleach Blonde hair spilling out all over the two officers that maybe weighed in as much as the M-4's and gear they had stashed in the back. These two girls seemed to take particular delight in driving the large vehicle around and visiting the local convenience stores while bouncing in and out chatting with the employees. Not sure what they were doing exactly but it sure didn't appear they were on any type of police business they appeared to be just making the rounds.
There is still activity but the only ones I see without the perpetual look of worry lining their faces are the ones with a direct line of funding coming from above. State and local bureaucrats, law enforcement, educators etc. This immediate area has a large percentage of low level government employees and the only worry they have is complaining they are not paid enough.
While each regional city cries in fear about reduced budgets their claims of how they are going to deal with them always come down to offering early retirements that only a few at the top take advantage of and closing or reducing hours or schedules. Never do they mention actually reducing the staff. Recently the state transportation department has began pushing a "pothole reporting" scheme hoping the public at large will inform them of large potholes that need fixing.
The whole thing has the feeling of an egg shell to me. Strong if viewed from one perspective but nothing really supporting it underneath as a whole. Local businesses that used to run two or three employees at a time now boast only one, lines which still have customers now have them but the items they are purchasing have shrunk and the only ones who talk about new anything seem to be those attached to government.
Just like other physical signs of decline out here in the rural areas, economically the edges are whats showing the wear and worry. I believe a large segment of the population has just gone into hiding as they have nothing to offer and no money to spend. We will see how this works out.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!