From the Publisher: Is It Good or Is It Bad?

Arnold G. York

We live in a very complicated world and it seems to be getting more complicated everyday. I read the newspapers everyday and, of course, they are all filled with doom and gloom, so it gets progressively more difficult to tell what’s good and what’s bad.

For example, oil has dropped to below $80 per barrel.

– That’s good because we are now spending fewer dollars at the pumps and that loosens more dollars for Christmas goodies and Americans are all better off.

– That’s good because within a few short years, America will be energy independent and a lot of those nasty oil countries that do some very nasty stuff can take their oil … well, you get the idea.

To recap, oil has dropped below $80 per barrel and maybe that’s not so good. In fact, it may be bad.

– For one thing, with oil so cheap, the thrust for alternative energy sources is pretty much gone, and that is going to hurt the environment.

– For another thing, there are a lot of countries in the world that keep their populations from killing each other by passing out goodies paid for by oil revenues. Many of those countries are nothing but big gas stations.

– With oil revenues down, many countries are also going to be defaulting on their loans and they’re not going to able to afford all that expensive American military hardware we keep selling them.

So, on balance, is $80 oil a good thing for America? Well, it’s kind of hard to know.

We spent 10 years in Iraq, a couple of trillion dollars and close to 10,000 American lives, but we know that was all worth it because:

– We have achieved stability in the region and the large American base we have in Iraq tells the entire region that you don’t mess with the United States of America because we stand ready to defend our interests and the interests of our allies.

– Because we now have the Iraqi people on our side and the American trained crack Iraqi army is an example to the entire Mideast region of strength, stability and dedication and a bastion against terrorism. Correct?

Well, maybe Iraq didn’t quite work out as we planned, but at least we’ve had a hell of a success in Afghanistan. Osama bin Ladin is dead, Al-Qaeda has been subdued, terrorism is in retreat because we’ve wiped out all those terrorism train camps in Afghanistan, or at least forced them to move to Africa, where they are no longer a problem.

So, on balance, we would have to say what, that Iraq and Afghanistan were good, were bad, or were just an expensive draw?

Let’s move from foreign policy and bring it right to home. We’ve spent several months beating up on each other over Measure R and just got a verdict. The verdict was quite conclusive. The turnout for the election was 40% of the registered voters, which, for municipal election, is quite a high turnout. Of course, it also means 60% of the voters in this town didn’t care enough about this issue or any issue to even bother to vote. The “yes” vote got 60% of the votes, which, in political terms, is a blowout. So, it’s pretty clear where the voters stood.

Is the voter’s verdict a good thing or is it a bad thing? The answer may be several years in the making and depends on whom you ask. I think there are several things we can deduce now.

– The vote was a protest by many people who are unhappy with the Civic Center and the direction it has gone, that it’s becoming a high-end shopping destination.

– It was a protest against the growing amount of traffic we’re seeing on PCH and in the Civic Center.

– It was a sense by many the City Council wasn’t protecting us.

– It was a feeling the mom and pop shops were being forced out.

– It feels like we were losing the soul of our community.

What does the future hold?

Well, there are certain things we know for sure.

Auto traffic is going to continue to increase as more business moves to western LA County and eastern Ventura County, no matter what we do.

We’re still going to get 12-15 million visitors a year, principally to the beaches.

I doubt the mom and pop shops will be able to stay in the Civic Center because rents will keep rising. In Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, there is an article about some online retailers who are moving into brick and mortar space. What struck me is that many major high-end retailers have annual sales of more than $1,000-plus per square foot. So, a rental of $12 per square foot, plus a Common Area Maintenance of $3-4 a square foot, brings the rent to $15-$16 a square foot per month. National stores can afford that rent. No little service business in Malibu makes enough money to pay that kind of rent.

How this will all play out locally is anyone’s guess at this point, so all we can do is watch and wait, and, in time, we’ll know if Measure R was good, bad or just a draw.