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Slow times don’t need to be hard times

Letter from Slim Wolfe

Economy – September 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine


It seems just a bit disingenuous to rely on population growth as some sort of silver bullet, or to whine about a slow economy. Watching the productive musculature of mines, ranches, and railroad erode into the comparative flab of tourism and tract homes has been painful. A few short years earning a buck in new constrction were enough to convince me that I might as well be sawing off the limb I was standing on. Watching the invader hordes swarm up from the flatlands I guess I had some inkling of how the Serbs came to hate the Turks. That was in 1980. Now the flatland Turks have pretty much overrun everything north of Centerville, via South Park, and another army advances through Coaldale up the canyon encouraged by the conjurings of some of our realtors and businesses.

Just a couple of hundred years ago, Tokyo was a sleepy backwater, New York was idyllic. So don’t think Moffat and Westcliffe won’t have tube stations disgorging thousands of weary commuters if the trend continues. Seems like those realtors might have just had the courtesy to move to Tokyo, if a boom is what they wanted. Plenty of businesses like First Street CafĂ© and Neighborhood Goods grew up through the so-called slack years. Without whining, conjuring, expanding, or subdivding, they worked at an honest product or service, and there was enough local trade to keep them going.

Maybe we got the conjuring instinct as kids when we were exposed to too many “I Dream of Jeannie” reruns. We all want to push the magic buttons of power and leave the potato patch to the immigrants. Then we wonder why we have so many immigrants. Duh. We want to leave all the brainwork to Microsoft, as if there was no trade off, either. But while the herb farmer is searching out the cabinetmaker on the internet, the same technology is helping Cargill and ADM force out the small farms which help keep our region green, clean, and friendly.

There’s a horde of cool dudes in shiny convertibles who’ll pass you on a blind curve to give the wife and kid a little thrill and get to the rafting depot ten seconds sooner. No doubt they’re conjuring a way to get themselves a ranchette as well. But an accident looking for a place to happen isn’t a sane way to build up a tax-base.

Sooner or later we all have to look at each other as potential sources of income, but it’s nice to have some other values as well, and those are more readily found in an economy based on sustainability, rather than conjuring. Slow times don’t need to be hard times — unless you’re addicted to life in the fast lane.

Slim Wolfe

Villa Grove

P.S. Maybe it seems as if I’ve got an attitude. Maybe if you give your children enough room to breathe, they won’t grow up like products of the rat race, like me. Wouldn’t that be nice?