Friday, March 6, 2009
Carlisle needs more candidates
The residents who agreed at this week’s Town Caucus to run for election this spring deserve our gratitude (see article, page 1). Half of the ten people running for volunteer offices are already serving as board members. They have donated their free time to attend numerous meetings, to learn the workings of their boards and to help with the myraid decisions involved in running the town. Thanks are also due to the five brave souls who are stepping forward to run for election to boards for the first time. It is a significant commitment.
Why have only ten people thrown their hats into the ring, out of a population with over 3,000 registered voters?
For those who might consider serving, but would like to learn more, a series of interviews of town boards and committees was written during 2007 and is available online at www.carlislemosquito.org (click on “Resources”). In Priscilla Stevens’ profile on the Board of Selectmen, John Williams explained that he was motivated to serve “to protect and enhance Carlisle through some challenging years.” Bill Tice felt, “It is important to give back to the community.”
In Bob Zielinski’s interview of Planning Board members, Kent Gonzales said, “My experience on the board has been rewarding... I’ve learned a great deal about Carlisle and have gained a whole new appreciation for community volunteerism.” Brian Larson added, “Participating in town government does return benefits. For me, working with the many talented people on subjects important to our community is quite rewarding.”
At least two more candidates are needed to help fill the coming vacancies on the Board of Selectmen and Planning Board. More candidates would be even better – contested races give voters a choice, which is always desirable. ∆
If you happen to be a pessimist, these are boom times. In every newspaper and magazine, there’s a bull market in bad news. Wall Street is in the tank; the federal deficit is soaring; the credit markets are frozen; millions are losing their jobs, and taxes are on the rise. This recession is wide and deep, and its severity has taken everyone by surprise, especially considering that the stock market was at an all-time high not too many months ago. Pundits tell us that we’ve not yet hit bottom and that it may take years to recover. Even the president has described this situation as a “catastrophe.”
Sound familiar? It should. This country has a long and distinguished history of financial panics, stretching all the way back to 1785, when the nation’s economy experienced severe birth pangs. A few years later, in 1792, an excess of speculation and a collapse in the securities market led to significant federal intervention in the private sector. That’s when the first Bank of the United States was established. During the country’s adolescent years, there were periodic financial crises fueled by speculation (mostly in land), overinvestment in high-tech industries (then it was railroads), and bank failures. In 2007, the impending collapse of a major insurance company (AIG) helped trigger the market collapse; in 1857, it was the failure of the Ohio Life Insurance Company.
We’ve had our share of colorful characters as well. Andrew Jackson, an activist president in matters of finance, unwittingly triggered the Panic of 1837 by imposing new regulations in the currency markets. His good intentions were rewarded with disastrous results. In 1873, Jay Cooke was the Bernie Madoff of his time; when his bank collapsed, it took many others with it. And in 1907 (often called the “Rich Man’s Panic”), J.P. Morgan played the role of today’s Warren Buffett – the wisest, richest man in the room – who personally intervened to shore up the economy. The difference is that then, it worked.
Some are alive today who remember the Great Depression, much analyzed but still little understood. Did Roosevelt’s interventionist policies end the decade-long slide, or did they unwittingly exacerbate it? Some believe that they made no difference at all, and that it took World War II to pull the country out of that deep hole. Nobody really knows for sure.
All of us have been affected by this latest economic crises in different ways; but all of us have been affected. Some will lose homes and businesses, or see their retirement savings go up in smoke. Others will see great opportunities, as there always are when the markets are at their lowest point. Exciting times, to be sure, and not for the faint of heart. Still, there’s some comfort in knowing that as a nation, we’ve been through this before, and much worse. Eventually, optimism will overcome pessimism. Markets will stabilize, the creative and entrepreneurial will step up, and the economy will regain its vitality. We might even learn a few things in the process. Eventually, it’ll even be safe to open those monthly financial statements. You can count on it.
© 2009 The