We Need to Invest in Madison
Excerpted from Madison Magazine
by Neil Heinen
“Right about now I’d be more than happy to admit that I didn’t pay close enough attention during my economics class in college. Except I didn’t take an economics class in college. So my lack of knowledge of what’s really happening in the global economy is well founded. Despite my daily reading of the business pages in major American newspapers and respected websites, I can’t seem to escape the feeling that I really don’t have a clue.
That doesn’t stop me from worrying, however, and what worries me the most right now is that we as a country have lost our willingness to invest in ourselves. To be sure this is all clouded by the ugliest politics I’ve seen in my lifetime. Yes, the Civil Rights struggle was bad. So were the Cold War and the Vietnam War. But I’ve never seen so many elected officials so indifferent to the good of the country or the state, so indifferent to the citizens. And it seems to me that indifference is showing up in the painfully slow recovery from a recession, which in fact we may be slipping back in to. And the majority of our leaders simply don’t care.
Part of my impatience may be age. I turned sixty in between last month’s column and the one you’re reading, and the “long term” isn’t what it once was. But even the optimism of youth has to be tempered these days by unemployment rates, housing prices and the cost of gas. Every fiscal instinct I have says we should be investing in business development, new urban communities and green energy. Which brings me to the topic closest to my heart—Madison.
So many people are working so hard to continue to build and grow our city in healthy and sustainable, creative and profitable ways. MadREP has embarked on a new economic development strategy that holds the greatest promise I’ve seen since the Collaboration Council was created five or six years ago.”