Magazine article Real Estate Issues

When the Boomers Bail: A Community Economic Survival Guide

Magazine article Real Estate Issues

When the Boomers Bail: A Community Economic Survival Guide

Article excerpt

I AM A RELATIVELY POSITIVE PERSON and somewhat of a skeptic. Also a little bit of a data geek Okay, so perhaps more than just a little. That is why when the book When the Boomers Bail: A Community Economic Survival Guide by Mark Lautman came across my desk, 1 thought, "Here is another one of those somewhat shallow pop culture treatises on our generation" Well, Mark Lautman proved me wrong.

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The book is about baby boomers, when we all retire, or think that we will all be able to retire, but it is much, much more than that. It is about the fundamental economics of our communities and how we are going to prepare for the Inverted Labor Market Curve, where there will be fewer workers and more jobs. Let's face it, boomers as a generation did not replace themselves. We were too busy self-actualizing to make the next generation larger than we are. We can hope that by working longer, perhaps dying earlier and increasing our investment in technology we will stave off the doomsday that is to come when communities find their populations increasing faster than their economies, or P+++++E instead of E+++++P.

Lautmans premise is that if a community is not growing its economy faster than its population, it will soon find itself in a situation where it cannot support the service-burden that is increasing more rapidly than the revenues it is taking in.

The eerie thing is that many of the scenarios presented in the book are happening right now and not just in the United States, but in other parts of the world as well. Comparatively, the U.S. is beginning to seem like "Loserville" when some others like China, Brazil and India are starting to look like "Winnersville" in the economic scheme of things.

But since we are in a global economy, the reverberations are being felt right now on many Main streets, and soon, in larger communities, if we don't wake up and smell the coffee.

Lautmans answer to the crisis of mediocre communities is that we must innovate and creatively plan and implement our way out of this mess. That is, if we are willing to admit that we have a mess.

Lautmans 12-step process reads like a rehab treatment center, but that might be what it will take for more of us (the communities) to dig in and cure ourselves of the addiction that thinking that tomorrow will be better. What if it isn't better? …

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