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Oglesby: Thoughts on economy, school board

POSTED: July 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Moving up the street roughly a half-mile as we just did is little different from moving across the country what with packing, unpacking, etc. The current economy and real estate market make selling the vacated home far more difficult than any of our previous moves.

Home value range and home price range are two different things at this particular time. Houses considerably more valuable than our vacated one and houses less valuable are selling. The strange thing this time is some homes of comparable value are selling well at prices as low as 50 cents on the dollar.

This is because job losses, foreclosures on builders and owners who for various reasons no longer could meet the payments and the economy in general. Not until this inventory of bargain basement priced homes is exhausted and maybe the economy recovers are most buyers likely to pay anywhere near true value.

Does this mean I (or we) should blame the president? Either political party? Congress? Big Oil? The Fed? Financial institutions? The war? Ourselves?

Answer: All of the above and none of the above.

We’re in what is variously called a correction, recession, dip in the economic cycle, stagflation. We’ve always had them and in our capitalistic society always will. All of the above contributed in various ways.

This doesn’t mean one or some are more or less to blame than others. Sometimes actions are vitally necessary to the overall good down the road. This does mean all can and should take some corrective actions. Some will have fast results, others less immediate results. Economics in a capitalistic free market is among other things a balancing act.

An old saying holds that if you lose your job, it’s a recession. If I lose my job, it’s a depression. Folks, this can be a valuable learning experience if we objectively evaluate today’s situation and adapt to it as best as we individually can.

For example, if I had money to invest rather than pay interest on a bridge loan until our vacant house sells, I’d probably be spending a lot of time seeking some of those real estate investments now keeping our house from selling. Since I don’t, I’m not wasting time complaining and casting blame but actively doing something positive, seeking creative ways to make that house truly more advantageous and attractive to potential buyers.

Changing subjects, a number have asked why I haven’t weighed in on the city school board controversy. I’ve heard and read what many of you have but still don’t know enough to form a solid opinion. A common complaint is many of you also don’t know enough and can’t get it.

As best I’ve learned, a former finance director goofed up. The superintendent found a replacement and was working with the replacement to come up with the best solution possible. That’s been a slow process without the instant answers many want. The school board appears ready to do what is necessary to solve the problem, including the unpopular election year raising of taxes, but can’t act until they, too, know what is necessary.

One of my Oglesbyisms applies well here. We must start from where we actually are, not from where we’d rather be. A number already have made up their minds what should be done even though many of them have no more information than most of us.

For example, I honestly don’t know whether the superintendent ought to have been fired as some suggested, even demanded. The first thing a good top leader does when a problem arises is to try to repair the damage. When the financial problem was discovered, he replaced the finance director and was working through the complexities for the best solution to fix it.

Apparently, on the education side of the ledger, the record shows substantial achievement. Was that grounds to fire him for cause? If not, is it best for the system to pay him his expensive contractual due or be exposed to a near-certain, expensive lawsuit instead of, in both instances, using the hundreds of thousands of dollars of potential liability to reduce the deficit?

Are we getting our money’s worth? Until I know more fact rather than rumors, I can’t and won’t reach an opinion I’d be comfortable advocating.

Changing topics again, in preparing for this fall’s BULLI class on understanding terrorism, I’ve just discovered a key player link to the American homeland that may have existed several years earlier than I had previously known from my years of study and teaching of the topic. It now appears the weekly class will have to be taught during normal school hours.

Also I have secured to help me two highly qualified and recent field- experienced hands who’ll add the most up to date information. If you are interested, let me know at the address below.

Ted Oglesby is retired opinion page editor. Reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503.



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