Guest Commentary: What are we thinking?

There’s no doubt our global, national and local economy is in crisis. The media keeps us well-informed. Bad news makes better news than good.

Consider that 25 minutes of the national evening news channels are dedicated to the stock market, war, the housing crisis, the auto industry and unemployment. The last five minutes or less is spent on an uplifting or heart-warming story. We have become a nation of accident onlookers slowing down our economy.

This is not creating a trickle-down effect but a disastrous, out-of-control snowball effect picking up our small businesses as debris, hurdling them down a hill to which there may not be an end unless we chose to stop it.

We are all feeling the effects and may be suffering, have lost financial values and are unsure of the future. But- we still needs goods and services.

Marco Island is a small city so if we’d begin making some immediate changes to support our local economy, perhaps we would see some stabilization so that, the local businesses we’ve come to enjoy, would still be here next year. Buy locally and save our ourselves.

They say it all began with the housing market, so let’s begin with the housing market. Obviously there are many homes available either in foreclosure, short sale or folks who just can’t afford to live here any longer. I’ve been here long enough to experience several downturns in the market but this is a one-of-a-kind paradise and, statistically, it will come back. If we have money to invest, this may well be the place to start. (The stock market doesn’t seem to be a wise choice at the moment.) Money for mortgages will be loosening up soon with great rates and there are some wonderful bargains here. If you can’t make a second purchase on your own, consider a partnership with two or three investors sharing expenses. Rent at reasonable rates to our deserving teachers, firefighters and police officers who often drive a ridiculous distance to provide our essential services. You may experience a loss on your immediate investment, (which, by the way is tax deductible) but in the long-run, you may realize a profit and save a city.

Support our local businesses. Why must we feel the necessity to cross the bridge every time we need something? Our local business people are qualified to supply our needs. From doctors and dentists, to salons and clothing, from restaurants to plumbers and decorators to seafood markets and mechanics — we have it all right here.

If we truly love our pristine island and lifestyle, our desire to make it flourish should be our top priority starting with each individual. Begin making those changes now. I would think most local businesses would be somewhat willing to negotiate. I personally feel that making some money, even at a lesser price than I have come to expect when things were booming, is far better than making no money and walking away from my dream of living on this beautiful island.

I must address our city leaders as well. Instead of lying awake at night thinking of ways to strip us even further on your wasteful, unnecessary projects, give us a break. Cut back now on your pet projects. Cut back on your outrageous budgets like we are doing. When the economy turns around, carefully and responsibly re-establish your goals. Don’t drive us out by nickel and diming us to death with your permit fees and the other projects on your agenda. These are hard times — desperate, if you will. Why can’t we work together to save ourselves? Give us a chance to heal the recession from within and don’t add to its spiralling downward fall. You are supposed to working for us not adding to our fear and demise.

I’m not suggesting we let the island ‘go to hell in a hand-basket,’ so to speak, but I’ll bet I could think of ways to trim millions from your budget and I’m not even good at math.

Those of us who are here are here because we love our island and want to see it thrive. I truly feel we can turn things around here and now and we could be one of those five minute news stories about a town who came together and “made it work.”

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