April 16, 2015
If you occasionally buy a lottery ticket, you probably enjoy speculating on what you would do with the money. The only assured value of a ticket is the enjoyment that speculating brings you. We as a society engage in a similar daydreaming when we debate budgets, economic development, and other public “good” issues. Unfortunately, our daydreaming is often as logical as the lottery winners who end up broke a few years after the payout. We seem to spend a lot of energy debating ways to make sure no one gets a bigger piece of the public pie than we think they have earned. My last blog grew into a bit of a rant on publicly financed sports complexes. Unfortunately, these are just the most visible of the poor priorities we set for ourselves. In my opinion the worst decisions we make are buried in a complex tax code that doesn’t encourage investments that create jobs over the long term. Thanks to the code, our suburbs are full of empty strip malls and vacant warehouses. Thanks to the code, resort communities gain mini-mansion developments that are only used a few months of the year. Meanwhile, potentially industry altering ideas struggle to raise the $50 million a Wall Street power broker spends on that new beach house. The same money that could result in 500 family-supporting careers goes into 50 temporary construction jobs and the minimum wage household staff of six. We have reality TV shows where the idea is people have to beg the money people for a helping hand! Can you imagine Henry Ford or Thomas Edison appearing on camera to plead for start-up cash from the shady financiers of the day? Neither can I. It has been an honor to know some of founding families in the gear trade. These men had a vision and endured some hard times seeing that vision to reality. With AGMA’s centennial celebration starting I would enjoy reading about the history of current and past gear companies. I might even be more interested in the stories of firms that no longer exist. If you have such a story to share let us know.