It’s that time of year again, when the howling coyotes come down from the hills, and cities in our area start seeing the invasion of the body snatchers. It’s a haunting sign of the state of our economy, with economic cobwebs and business ghosts to boot.
Last year I touched upon this subject, and if you haven’t figured it out already, the invasion I am writing about is by Halloween stores. In Glendale, it feels like we have an unusually high proportion of these seasonal stores, which points to the number of retail vacancies as local businesses have shut their doors.
As I take a fresh look at the subject a year later, it feels like we have slid further into the economic abyss, both as a country and as local cities. Consider recent news: our local cities facing multimillion-dollar cuts to close budget gaps; stock markets crashing; the president putting yet another “jobs bill” on the table for Congress; unemployment getting worse; the number of people at the poverty line increasing — the list of evidence is limitless.
We’re experiencing two simultaneous systemic failures that are leading to this spiral. First is political system failure, with polarization, lack of true leadership or accountability and a disengaged electorate.
Second is the financial system failure, with the continuation of greed in the banking and financial industry and no accountability for the literal fleecing of savings from the middle class to enrich the wealthy. It raises the question: How much worse must it get for people to rise in protest?
One of the original roots of the problem is that in the last decade, we have wasted trillions of dollars on two needless wars that have achieved little except bankrupting our country and ruining the lives of thousands of families that made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. This is in addition to the innocent lives lost in other countries.
The trillions of tax dollars spent on wars have come at the expense of needed investment in our schools, communities and national infrastructure. Where is the accountability for the group of neoconservative bandits who led us into this mess, including Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Pearle? Instead of being held accountable, they’re out having fun while we clean up their mess.
The cleanup starts at home. We have to take a close look at ourselves as individuals and as communities. The best solutions start on the local level when communities pull together. We have to get involved in how our local tax dollars are derived and spent by getting involved in the government process.
These types of financial and economic development issues need to be the primary focus for those in city leadership positions in the coming years, including the next Glendale city manager.
Just like tax dollars, we need to look at how we are individually voting with our pocketbooks. Do we just go for the cheapest price, or does buying from a local business or buying “Made in USA” matter? I consider these in my buying decisions.
And finally, businesses need to shape up and be the very best they can be, treating every customer like a VIP. Connecting with customers and building a relationship makes a difference.
Almost 20 years ago, President Clinton’s campaign advisor, James Carville, coined the saying “It’s the economy, stupid.” This rings more loudly now than it did then.
I don’t have all the answers, but every elected official, business leader and citizen must look at this with the sense of urgency it deserves. It’s time for a focused, collective plan of action on every level as if we were in a national crisis, because we are in one.
Otherwise, the goblins now invading Glendale, Burbank and other cities will end up staying and haunting us for generations to come.
ZANKU ARMENIAN is a Glendale resident and a corporate communications professional. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.