For Sale Or Rent; The Entire Scenery
For a truly exciting view into the yawning abyss our economy has become, I recommend a drive from Central North Texas to Central Florida.
Pervading the scenery along the coast I’ve been driving the last few weeks are signs of gaping holes and distress. ‘For Sale’ signs are everywhere, festooned with added pleas of “Must Sell’, ‘Owner Financing’, ‘Reduced’, and prices in the range of under $40k for many acres, sometimes on the desirable lakes, streams and oceanfront. Homes and businesses through the barren landscape are up for sale, lease, or fail – the terms are coming to "Just Please Help."
Along Daytona Beach oceanfront, I saw rates advertised that would be a steal in my off-the-beaten-track hometown. In the tourist mecca of Florida, empty billboards and empty motels are everywhere, multitudes of restaurants and other businesses for sale or just closed down. For the first time, I was seeing former gas stations that had been the general stores of small towns with the gas pumps closed or missing, the signs reading "Gas Off, Still Open"…or not.
The economy is in trouble when these signs turn up. Vacation just ended, and the travelers didn’t come.
In Little Talbot Island, FL, we were sitting at a wonderful campfire talking about the big hole in our economy that health care, and particularly the million 2008 bankruptcy filings, has made in our missing prosperity. We happened to be a group that hasn’t been hit directly by the worst of the potential financial disaster that medical crises have occasioned for many U.S. families. We had been hit by the job losses, and the weakened economy that doesn’t provide enough demand for our varied services. We have also been hit by the huge gap in spending occasioned by the walloping the whole economy has taken.
In a way, those medical disasters that cause so much of our country’s losses, 60% to those who insured against that very eventuality, are hitting us, too. The demand that doesn’t occur in construction, be it new buildings, improvements, and even repair, is missing for the economy, because the means have been pulled into that vacuum of lost spending power. That has happened to all of us, directly and indirectly. Just as all our investments suffered when empty bundles of toxic assets were injected into the economy, causing it to collapse, the whole economy is being damaged through domination by powerful manipulators of that economy.
It’s abysmally evident in driving through the coast where tourists are a large basis of the economy, but it’s hitting us all. The sixth of the economy being diverted to health care is taking away from returning to healthy business. This hugely unbalanced financial disaster can’t be fixed until any one element, be it health, financial – or any other industry, is dis-empowered from taking more than a realistic share of the whole money picture.
Happy New Year, time to put regulation back into a market economy that has failed because of the manipulation by too powerful and too short-sighted industries – to our total detriment. (And as I drove to Florida and back, I saw great real estate opportunities if you happen to be in the market to buy.)