Is this, Dec. 30 and 31, 2010, the end of the decade? Or is 2010 the start of a new decade?
Either way, 2010 is behind us, and so is that amazing decade.
What a decade it was. It seems almost a blur.
It began, of course, with our own Katherine Harris (and Florida) in the center of the national political storm, mediating the counting of hanging chads that would determine George W.’s eventual victory over the man who invented the Internet.
And then came the second Day of Infamy, 9-11-2001, which defined the decade for the world — the Decade of Islamic terrorism. We swooned as a nation into mental depression and economic recession. But we became bound in spirit and became determined to make the enemy pay and ourselves come back stronger as a nation.
Both occurred for a while. We wiped out Saddam Hussein’s regime, and George W’s lower tax rates and Alan Greenspan’s easy money powered the U.S. economy like an unstoppable Secretariat heading for the finish.
Here in Greater Sarasota we felt the thunder: 2003 to 2006 were literally off the charts economically. Every piece of dirt doubled or tripled in value. Money was everywhere.
Too much partying always catches up to you, however. And we certainly felt that. Starting at the end of 2006 and lasting almost through 2010, we suffered one Kowabunga of an economic hangover.
We don’t need to remind you of the local economy the past four years. Indeed, let’s move on! We’d rather look ahead than dwell on the negative past. To that end, herewith, our Wish List for 2011:
• That the Tea Party movement continues to grow — blocking or repealing ObamaCare and forcing the federal government, really and truly, to spend less next year than it did last year and quit issuing new debt.
This would be an economic and political miracle.
• That the Federal Reserve Bank quit printing money. Americans don’t know it, but in spite of what Ben Bernanke and others are telling us, the value of our dollar is shrinking. And that’s the worst tax of all.
• That the president recognizes what we’re doing in Afghanistan is futile. A new strategy — is necessary (see “Let’s Un-Surge in Afghanistan,” Wall Street Journal, Dec. 20).
• That we see a renaissance in families and school classes reading books and learning how to speak and write the English language. “Her and I” or “Him and I” is not correct; and never use the first person “I” after a preposition. (But who still knows what a preposition is?)
• That we see a renaissance in people actually communicating face to face, not Facebook to Facebook. We are a nation of thumb-texters and touch-pad swooshers. Let’s pray the 20- and 30-somethings and the generations after them strive to be well-read, articulate speakers and smarter than their “smart” phones.
• That our streak continues: A fourth consecutive year of no direct hurricane hits.
• That Gov.-elect Rick Scott’s persuasive powers are strong enough to sway Florida legislators to embrace his smaller-government, bigger, free-er economic agenda. The big items to tackle: stopping the implementation of ObamaCare ($900 million cost to the state); unshackling Florida from the chains and unstoppable federal costs and mandates of Medicaid (they will bankrupt the state as Medicare will bankrupt the nation); deregulating property insurance to increase the supply and bring down the cost; eliminating the corporate income tax (this would open the flood gates for corporations to establish operations here); putting a halt to the “train to bankruptcy” — the high-speed rail from Orlando to Tampa (they always cost more and generate fewer riders than the predictions; always); ending the unrealistic, Cadillac pension plans for government employees (the private sector doesn’t have anything close to what they enjoy).
• That the two counties do what Gov.-elect Scott is doing in Tallahassee: Critically evaluate every county department and activity and determine whether they should stay, shrink or disappear.
• That the two county commissions and city commissions, with the help of respected business leaders, conduct an economic summit where they agree to a checklist of five meaningful steps they can take in their jurisdictions to improve the business climates in both counties. We need jobs. The business climate has a lot to do with that. One suggestion: Quit redistributing wealth with corporate welfare/subsidies.
• That our region’s retirees — 37% of the population — would recognize that increased business activity and growth is good for them and especially for future generations; and that they would become among the region’s leading supporters of increased economic, business and population growth. We have seen what no growth does — 12% unemployment — and it’s miserable.
CITY OF SARASOTA
• That a new generation of young leaders would emerge and begin to flush out the tired thinking that holds Sarasota back.
• That these new leaders persuade Sarasota city residents to realize the city’s future is doomed unless they embrace economic and population growth. The county has the city’s boundaries surrounded. Its only hope is to build up and open the North Trail for fast-tracked development.
• That these new leaders also make the persuasive case that two essential steps to a strong economic future are: an elected CEO/mayor and city elections in November.
• That current city commissioners also imitate Gov.-elect Rick Scott, making jobs and an improved business climate their number-one priority and evaluating every activity of city government to determine whether it should continue, shrink or disappear.
• That St. Armands Circle property owners and the city figure out a way to construct a parking garage on St. Armands Circle. This is one of the city’s primary assets and it’s not being fully utilized.
• That the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s expansion and redevelopment project obtains the approvals to proceed and we actually see the start of construction in 2011.
• That a definitive, new plan emerges to redevelop/renovate the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort — a plan that includes re-establishing the property as the first-class, elegant but friendly family tennis resort that it once was and that the plan ends the legal proceedings and enmity between all of the dueling factions. Fred Guest did at the Vinoy. Steve Muss did it at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. It can be done here.
• That Brian Kenney, the principal of the firm that purchased Whitney Beach Plaza, is for real.
• That once the Key Club project moves forward, Publix Super Markets Inc. unveils its plans to renovate and redevelop Avenue of the Flowers.
• That the Town Commission and residents embrace these commercial improvements.
• That the Town Commission has the courage to adopt a strategy that converts the town’s taxpayer-draining employee pension plans to a new system of defined contribution plans.