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The rise and fall of the American Dream


The rise and fall of the American Dream

August 15, 2011

So, they said we needed change. They said it would get worse before it got better. They said unemployment is decreasing. They said the rate of foreclosures was decreasing. They said there were signs we were in recovery from the recession. Now they say we are heading for ANOTHER recession. Well, we got change. They were right. It certainly got worse and hasn’t gotten better.

For the former employees in the home building industry, the prospect of a recovery of the home building industry is nowhere in sight.  The American Dream of homeownership is as American as apple pie.   Because of the abominable economy that our presidential and congressional leaders have failed to fix, the American Dream has been lost. It is out there in the woods, and unlike Hansel and Gretel, there are no economic breadcrumbs to follow to find it.

The numbers that are reported for unemployment seem very low compared to the rate of lost jobs in our industry alone:

Land development and home building executives, directors, project management staff, construction superintendents, field staff, administrative staff, sales agents, escrow officers, entitlement consultants, civil, structural & soils engineers, biological, environmental consultants, architects, mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers, staff for all of these consultants…

Land development contractors and sub-contractors, house construction contractors and sub-contractors, material suppliers for all building trades, to name just a few: lumber, steel, concrete, pipeline, electrical wiring, plumbing, doors, windows, roofing, stucco, hardware, paint, flooring, landscaping, etc…

Let’s not forget all of the utilities services jobs planning and installing power, water, CATV, phone…

The ancillary businesses that suffer when home construction is non-existent: the office supply companies, ad agencies, marketing consultants, food vendors, catering trucks, lenders,banks, investors, title insurance companies, health insurance companies, accountants…

City, county, state and federal regulatory agency planners, review and plan checking staff and their outside consultants,…

The list goes on and on.  Oh yes,  and last but not least, the Plan Check, Permit Fees and Development Impact Fees funded by new development that create new jobs for all of the services for new development, sewer, water, traffic, schools, fire, drainage etc.  THE ECONOMIC DOMINO EFFECT IS MIND BOGGLING!

There aren’t enough “shovel-ready” jobs to recover all of the lost home building industry jobs lost, and put all of these people back to work. Shovel-ready by definition eliminates all of the pre-development jobs. For the vast majority of people who have made their living in the home-building industry, planning, designing, developing, and building the American Dream, Green jobs are not the answer to put them back to work at the level they need to maintain ownership of their American Dream.

Americans need results NOW from their Presidential and Congressional Leaders. Not a promise of what they can do in 2012, nor promises by the presidential and congressional election hopefuls of what they intend to do IF elected!

In my former role as a home building and land development executive and department head, our mission statement for our department was this:

“The engineering department consists of professionals driven by meticulous attention to detail with integrity and pride in our work. We are resourceful and creative in finding solutions to difficult and virtually impossible problems. Our department motto is “Teamwork, Communication, and Perseverance.” Our quest is to find solutions not to find fault.”

President Obama, Vice President Biden, Congress, and the Judicial Branch, YOU, our three houses of government, are our team!!  Where is the teamwork? All we hear is partisan bickering.  If I were to use a sports analogy, YOU are losing this Super Bowl!!

The American Dream of home ownership for so many has been lost.  Home-building projects across the country that were once host to vibrant construction machines creating the American Dream are like ghost towns of sticks and tumbleweeds. What were once beautifully maintained neighborhoods are now fraught with rampant bank owned properties with vacant homes, dead lawns and landscaping. 

You MUST put Americans back to work NOW!! Not in 2012.  No more empty promises and waiting for new elected leaders to fix the problems.  It only matters how we got here to avoid making the same mistake twice. Stop the blaming and finding fault.  FIND SOLUTIONS. You ARE creative. You ARE resourceful. You CAN find solutions to virtually impossible problems. Partisan thinking should have ended the day you took office. You represent ALL Americans and ALL Americans deserve to own the American Dream, and expect that in this Great Country, they can raise their families, live their lives, look to retirement, with the expectation and vision of achieving the American Dream.

In the industrial world, the executive does the job successfully, and then gets the promotion. For both the incumbents and the prospective candidates: RESULTS will get you the Votes you vie for. From my view: NO RESULTS,  NO VOTES.


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