by Mel Griffith
We are all having to adjust to a slow economy. We have been through boom times which unfortunately were based on borrowed money at all levels from the Federal government down to the local homebuyer buying a house twice as big as he really needed on the assumption that even though he couldn't afford it, it would be worth more soon anyway. Times as good as they were for several years may not return in the lifetime for a lot of us. Government and everybody else is going to have to start thinking smaller instead of "how much can we spend this year?" Years ago we thought "we will buy what we can afford." Over the years that gradually changed into "we will buy what we need and someday, somehow, we will figure out how to pay for it." Both governments and individuals got to operating on that theory. For many, "someday" has come, but the "somehow" to pay the debts is not apparent.
Bradley County has managed better than most. While many governments are laying off people and raising taxes (sometimes disguised as fees) for this year, at least Bradley County will again not have to raise taxes and all employees get to keep their jobs. There will, however, be no new jobs nor other expansions of government, despite plans on hold for new schools, pay improvements and other things. There is simply no money available for many things someone would like.
We can always hope for better times next year, but at present the outlook for the whole country, maybe the whole world is worse than this year. There are lots of optimistic predictions coming out of Washington, but these should be regarded as propaganda for the next election rather than as real information. Bradley County's future looks brighter than a lot of others because of new industry coming in. We need to be patient, it will take several years to feel all the effects of these improvements. some expect a huge surge in population and want government, especially the school system to grow to prepare for it, but it remains to be seen how much growth actually occurs. Some seem to assume that every new job means a new family coming to Bradley County, but with the high unemployment, many are already here, many workers will come from other countries and continue to live here.
Older folks remember the depression and know how to adjust. Others may have to learn to live in hard times.