“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.“
If you read the newspapers or follow the TV news, you‘d think the wheels were falling off America. But check the story behind the story on these widely reported downers:
“Car sales at a 15-year low“: Are you smarter than a fifth-grader? The leaders of the Big 3 automakers aren‘t. In their quest for short-term profits, they kept churning out SUVs and pickup trucks like there was no tomorrow, and neither they (nor the dealers) had the wits to see that these gas-gobblers were doomed to extinction. Now, they have excess inventory and no buyers. Go figure.
Is that bad? Not at all. Now every car company in the world is scrambling to build smaller, energy-efficient cars. Currently, Toyota can‘t meet the demand for its Prius hybrid-electric car, or fill orders for its fuel-saving models.
That means the auto industry is on the brink of a bonanza, not a disaster, with drivers clamoring for vehicles that make more sense.
“Unemployment on the rise“: Part of this is tied to the auto slump (which will fix itself), with unemployment at 5.5% and a general “under“ employment of 9.7% expected by 2009, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
But consider that the first wave of 75 million baby boomers are retiring. Some of them will extend their careers to make ends meet with part-time jobs, but there will still be tens of millions of boomers saying “take this job and shove it“ over the next 25 years. We‘re on the brink of a huge labor shortage and there will be plenty of jobs for young people, replacing their moms and dads in the workforce.
“The weak dollar is sending America down the tubes“: Part of the reason gasoline costs so much is because the dollar isn‘t what it used to be. If you had purchased $10,000 in euros a few years back, you‘d have $15,870 now because the dollar has declined that much in value.
Thus, America has become a bargain basement sale for investors around the world. The Chinese and Japanese alone have invested more than $50 trillion in the U.S.A. Then there are the Brits, the Saudis, the financiers of Singapore and Hong Kong... it‘s a big list.
Tourism is on the ropes in Europe because so few Americans are headed overseas this summer. Conversely, Europeans and Asians are flocking to America because prices are at rock bottom here.
Those foreign economies can‘t afford to let America fail because they are chained to our fate.
“Tough times for Northern Michigan:: True, the Dura Automotive plant is closing in Mancelona, losing 250 jobs. On the other hand, the $80 million Turtle Creek Casino just opened in Williamsburg, adding 200 jobs -- and the place is going gangbusters.
Despite all the pessimistic predictions, tourism is still on a roll in Northern Michigan, with major articles lauding our region in the Detroit Free Press and USA Today. Bigger, better casinos in Petoskey and Traverse City are bringing in more tourists, and we‘ll also see more Canadian visitors here, taking advantage of better exchange rates.
Other positive trends:
Our local wine industry is booming with reports of sales increases of 20-25%.
Currently, movie star Ray Liotta is making a film in Benzie County, with more Hollywood filmmakers on the way. As noted recently in the Express, the likes of Clint Eastwood and Johnny Depp have been spotted here, scouting the region for film projects.
The Traverse City Film Festival continues to grow. Madonna‘s participation this year can only help boost tourism and the region‘s prestige.
Home sales down? That means the price of housing is becoming affordable again after a decade in which real estate speculators drove prices up by “flipping“ homes for quick profits. Good news for buyers.
Much of what we think about the economy is a matter of perspective: Think of this as a time of opportunity, rather than a downturn.
And remember that even a bad economy can‘t change the fact that we‘re living in the closest thing to paradise in America. We‘re still home to some of the finest beaches in the country, fabulous festivals, and 250 million lbs. of cherries. Life is sweet in Northern Michigan -- literally a bowl of cherries -- especially this time of year.