It is an American creed that our children will have a better life than their parents. It is a concept that has been around since the founding of our country. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson identified three inalienable rights: life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Note that life and liberty are present rights, but happiness is something out into the future. It is not necessarily something we have now, but something for which we strive. Jefferson’s fellow revolutionary, John Adams, once observed, and I paraphrase, that he must study politics and war, that his children might study mathematics and history, that his grandchildren might study poetry and the arts. Each generation succeeding Adams would have a better life.
A brighter tomorrow for our children is also infused into our arts. Consider the 1939 film, Gone With the Wind. This was a movie made at the end of the great depression as war clouds were growing on the horizon about another time in our history when a war had left the southern culture and economy in ruins. At the end of the movie, the leading lady’s beau has just left her uttering the first swear word heard in an American film. But Scarlet still concludes the film: “Tomorrow . . . is another day!”
In 1978 the show Annie debuted a several decade run on Broadway. It was a musical produced in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Watergate, high rates of inflation and Arab oil embargo. But still, the story is upbeat. The chorus line from the show stopping tune is: “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow! You’re only a day away!”
We now live in a time when many wonder whether “Tomorrow” is slipping away. While some recent economic numbers seem to be improving, the core numbers are not. The debt to GDP ratio is rapidly passing a dangerous tipping point. As the federal debt ratio rises toward numbers more resembling those of Greece, Spain or Italy, the government’s ability to meet the debt service comes more and more into question. When interest rates double or triple back to their historic averages, how will the federal government make the payments? With more borrowed funds? The employment to population ratio also continues to fall. Here in Colorado Springs, the number of unemployed remains stubbornly high. Housing construction remains very low, and with ten months of housing supply on the market and an unknown amount held by banks and individuals who know they cannot sell without taking a loss, it’s not likely to resume any time soon. In 1991 the local economy got a double shot of adrenaline when first MCI, and then Apple Computer came to town and began to hire. Is there an MCI or Apple in our future? Where will our children find jobs?
It is in this setting that we must now select a new mayor for Colorado Springs. Will he (there are no women candidates) provide inspiration, articulate a way forward? Renew hope in tomorrow? Or will the candidate run on a platform of jobs or his competence. The latter is a recipe for failure, in my opinion.
By Randy Purvis