Hilton Head and “the little man”

Some thoughts while I was motoring around Hilton Head Island this morning. Most relate to the economy. Some involve communications as well.

We’ve been coming to Hilton Head during the same week in June for about the past 10 years. No where near as many people — or cars — here this week than in past years. Maybe the $4 a gallon price for gasoline is keeping people at home. And I expect it will get worse before it gets better — if it ever gets better. An article in USA Today this morning pretty well sums things up with the statement “fewer expected to drive, fly for 4th of July.” If, in fact, one of the reasons we are in Iraq is become of oil — well, the failure of that strategy should be pretty clear by now.

But if we can’t go anywhere, at least we can stay home an ponder the future of our economy: high food prices, increasing gasoline prices, crashing stock market. Oh, boy. Even if you are inclined to view the glass as half full, Steven Pearlstein’s column in The Washington Post this morning, “This Recession, It’s Just Beginning“, is enough to send you to the gin bottle.

Pearlstein writes:

So much for that second-half rebound.

Truth be told, that was always more of a wish than a serious forecast, happy talk from the Fed and Wall Street desperate to get things back to normal.

It ain’t gonna happen. Not this summer. Not this fall. Not even next winter.

This thing’s going down, fast and hard. Corporate bankruptcies, bond defaults, bank failures, hedge fund meltdowns and 6 percent unemployment. We’re caught in one of those vicious, downward spirals that, once it gets going, is very hard to pull out of.

Oh, mama. I hope that McCain and Obama have a truthful discussion with all of us during the upcoming campaign. Our nation faces some big challenges — and I really believe there are some tough choices ahead. And I don’t worry about this on a personal level. I have an ample pension and I’m close enough to getting Social Security that even Bush and his jolly group of advisers can’t screw that up. But I do worry for many of my friends who read this — many of whom are in their 20s like my son and daughter. Demand more from our candidates and elected officials this time around.

And if things aren’t bad enough nationally, consider what is happening here in Hilton Head. The best beer and rib joint on the island — Smokehouse Bar and BBQ — is on the verge of — oh, my — being leveled for a parking lot. I guess if Budweiser can end up as part of multinational brewery, then anything is possible. Although the sign near the door going into the Smokehouse does kind of, ah, jab you in the ribs.

Oh, well. I guess I agree with country singer Alan Jackson on this one. Next thing you know there will be a Wal-Mart overlooking the ocean, replacing the Piggly Wiggly and the Hemp Store. So it goes.

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