The military and surrounding defense industries in Hampton Roads are our force field from the surrounding world. As the article explains, we are temporally insulated from the national economy in that we are slower to cool in times of downturn and slower to recover as well.
As the JFCOM closing will be moving forward and with it the loss of 1,900 jobs in the region, one can expect 2012’s numbers to be less inspiring. Additionally, we in theory will be concluding our involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan in the next couple of years. This should be sobering news to a region without a plan to fill the gap. Painfully absent from the ODU team’s economic analysis of the upcoming year was any mention of potential growth in emerging sectors. We are quickly approaching the zero barrier, at which point serious economic stagnation will be upon us and we will have no answer to the problem.
Green collar jobs could fill this growth gap, but the time for procrastination is long past. Wind energy harvested off the coast of Virginia Beach, a possible turbine factory in Norfolk, and production facilities on the peninsula could easily be a large part of the chasm defense spending will leave in our economic picture over the next five to ten years. Similar large-scale investments in LEED certification training in our community college systems could help us to grow our middle class with an eye to the long term as well.
The same reasons that make Hampton Roads an ideal location for the military make it the perfect region to serve as a national leader in the coming green economy. The Chesapeake Bay, our vast tracks of wildlife reserves, our beaches, and unique maritime ecosystems give us so many reasons to begin to grow in a more responsible and sustainable fashion in Hampton Roads. Should this not move you, we now can count our economic health amongst the reasons we as a region must move into these emerging markets.
We are lucky enough to have passionate and intelligent people on the ground in Hampton Roads trying to make this a reality. Randy Flood, the Director of the Green Jobs Alliance, has been working tirelessly to bring energy efficiency and green jobs to Hampton Roads. It’s through the work of pragmatic individuals like Mr. Flood that Hampton Roads can break out as national leader in innovation and emerging green tech that will provide long-term economic prosperity and a cleaner world.
All you have to do is care, people. It is as simple as that. Just care and the world will take on the shape of our desires.
I applaud the Governor for exploring creative ways to keep pushing the wind energy initiative forward. He is in a politically tough spot but found a way to not have this nascent initiative die in the cradle because of our tight economic situation. Kudos Bobby.
City of Virginia Beach, while I am glad you authorized the funding for this study, I could not imagine someone supporting their action in a more cowardly and backward looking fashion.
“It’s in our best interest to cooperate with the governor,” Vice Mayor Louis Jones said. “He’s out there trying to find funds for roads. He pretty much calls the shots where those road projects will be.”
Somehow the Virginia Beach leadership managed to make an unmitigated win for the environment bad for the environment. I can’t help but be concerned about the future of this project when our political leadership views clean wind energy as little more than a stepping stone to more pollutant increasing roads.
Perhaps as green initiatives are a new thing in our region the Vice Mayor simply is not well versed in the vernacular. For future reference your comments should have sounded something like this-
“The city of Virginia Beach is very excited to be working with the Governor on this visionary project,” Vice Mayor Louis Jones did not say. “Virginia Beach is uniquely poised to become a national leader in wind energy, which will bring new jobs, and cleaner energy to Virginia citizens.”
Despite a name that makes me think of some gross marine mammal dessert, this coquettish lil’ fella is returning to the great blue beyond mañana and if you have some time you should drop in and say Bon Voyage!
Now let’s tack on how much was spent. In the wake of the Citizens United case, corporations who already affect the bulk of our decision making processes in day to day life, may now directly affect the outcome of our political races by dumping millions into those as well. People should have been outraged, but instead ignored it. In 2010 the estimated spending on elections topped 4 billion dollars, exceeding the cost of the 2000 presidential election, and the 2004 presidential election. To list the things that could be done with 4 billion would just be depressing.
After 20% of us get our woman or man into office, buoyed on the millions from private companies, she or he will then be besieged by more special interest advocates. We have a politician to lobbyist ratio that can run as high as 26 to 1. On the health care issue alone there are 6 industry lobbyists for every one congressman.
Yesterday the House of Representatives voted on the campaign finance system put in place as a reaction to the corruption of the Nixon administration. House Republicans attacked the provision on fiscal grounds by pointing to the estimated 600 million in savings should repeal become reality. Gone now is the notion that we should even pretend to try and keep money out of politics. President Obama, while a supporter of the public campaign finance system, rejected the funds during his election. It was a pragmatic decision that would be his first of many corrosive compromises. His snubbing of the system was really the first step towards the repeal the House passed yesterday.
The last two years of electoral law could best be described as complete and utter capitulation to corporate interests and the further eroding of democratic representation. As the divide continues to grow between your vote and your government, we can only hope that people will grow dissatisfied and shake off the stupor of contentment that has allowed this erosion of democracy to occur. It’s not hard to imagine a near future when congresswomen and men receive votes from only 10% of the citizens they represent. What will that mean for our way of governance is hard to say, but one thing that seems clear is that we should disavow ourselves of the illusion that we have a government of the people, created by the people.
Go forth and take to the streets. Demand that your elected officials refuse donations from corporations. Demand that they come talk to citizens constantly to accurately reflect their concerns in Washington. Ask for anything, damnit! Just do something.
Frustrated beyond measure that we just don’t care.