by Edi Sheldon
Economics- the word makes a lot of eyes droop and glaze over. But, it is a part of everyday life for each of us. When you purchase something as trivial as a box of Milk Duds or as essential as an automobile, anything that involves the exchange of money, this is an economic exchange, which creates an economy. Every night when we turn on the TV or a light or increase the volume of water in our kitchen sink we are involved in an economic activity.
We are told daily that these are serious economic times. The world, national, and local economies are interdependent and are struggling to right themselves from a series of blows to the solar plexus. The world economy struggles because the international trade system involving the exchange of goods, money and services has suffered from the enormous debt incurred by the nations who lead world trade. These would be the US, China, Japan, and all of Europe.
As the international exchange of goods and services began to get out of balance, debt from one country to another began to rise. The US imports an enormous number of goods and has exported many jobs. Therefore local production of manufactured goods has not sustained the economy. We do export lots of crops to poorer markets, but this does not balance the trade deficit, and the cash flow system becomes compromised. Cash gets short, the US borrows to cover cash shortages, and the banks’ reserves are depleted for sustaining loans and doing business.
The US imports many more goods than it sells, especially to China and Japan. This means that it is not receiving the cash for goods that those countries are receiving. It therefore becomes necessary to borrow money to pay for increasing our military strength in Afghanistan, for instance. This increases US debt which in turn, makes less cash available that you and I can borrow from the bank.
This is the major reason why the US currency fluctuates in value, and also why the US dollar is no longer backed by one dollar’s worth of gold in the US treasury. Instead, we must rely on the promise or on paper certification that the treasury can back up our money. I am not sure this is much comfort when trying to picture a debt of several trillion dollars. Although this is a simplified explanation, it may make our dire economic situation a little more understandable.
The economy on a local level
If the country is financially functional, the local economy will flow better. However, since we no longer have the benefit of an agriculturally based economy here and since we have lost so many jobs and businesses and find ourselves with nothing else here to shore up our local economy, we must band together to examine what is available to us to work with.
There are some bright spots on the horizon. Here is a quick look at the potential for local jobs in the immediate future. There will be jobs assisting with the construction of the City sewer plant, helping the sewer line to come into the Northlands so it can provide potential for increased development, and helping to lay the pipe for the water line that must be established from La Veta to Walsenburg.
Looking down the road, the development of the wind energy industry will provide some jobs as well, and we must see to it that local qualified applicants are given first priority. Another opportunity to bring cash into the county involves exploration for natural gas and other minerals. These resources are in demand and are what we have to sell. These opportunities will all take planning and partnering with state and federal agencies. We are all invested in living here, and each of us must take responsibility for helping to overcome this serious economic challenge.