The Economy, Cash For Clunkers and a Turning Tide?

A turning tide?

Source: NOAA. Credit: Family of Captain George L. Anderson, C&GS

Source: NOAA. Credit: Family of Captain George L. Anderson, C&GS

Only time will tell for certain, but the economy finally seems to be making a turnaround. People and companies, I think, have adjusted to the financial and business realities of recession, made adjustments, and now are ready to move forward. Not surprisingly, because consumer spending makes up nearly 70% of the U.S. economy, it's the return of the consumer to the marketplace that will spur this recovery.

In reality all it took was string of several small pieces of good news and positive signs to comfort the consumer. Adjustment to new economic realities coupled with a sense that there are bargains to be had and a desire to return to "normal" has the phones ringing again. From everything I've see seen and heard recently, the consumer has returned with small projects for small fees. Regardless, this is a very good thing.

Cash For Clunkers?

Perhaps it's the "Cash for Clunkers" effect where the availability of a supposed "deal" coupled with some positive thinking has raised everyone’s mood. Speaking of the "Cash for Clunkers" program, here are few thoughts on the subject:

1908 Model T Ford

1908 Model T Ford

Investment of billions of dollars for automobiles that lose the majority of their value within 4 years is a questionable policy. It's always amazed me the things we wouldn't spend a dime on, which are needed, and those we spend millions and billions on willy-nilly, without a second thought.

Those same billions of our tax dollars could've (should've?) been invested in a variety of other well deserving industries which would have resulted in a greater return on investment. There are many deserving industries which would've benefited from this sort of shot in the arm, but I would've liked to see that money invested in surveying, mapping and GIS, for example. Where's your bailout?

We spend too much time and energy on that which either has failed, or should be left to fail. This is true in business and government. Instead of focusing on the 80% of what is mediocre we instead should focus on the 20% that excels and will bring the greatest rewards. Think about this and take a look at your clients and projects in this light. I think, upon analysis, you will find that you generate at least 80% of your firm’s income from around 20% of your clients. Focusing on satisfying the needs of that top 20% of your clientele will yield far greater results than the time spent on the bottom 80%. The government would do well to learn from this, too.

Our Economy: Who's to Big top Fail or are You to Small to Save?

Those who fail the most miserably, but are large enough to claim to be "to big to fail", and have the most political clout, receive the most help, whether it's warranted or not.

Recessions teach us at least one thing; Change is necessary and a normal part of life. If we do not readjust and change our ways, adjusting to new economies and business realities, we will only return to financial and business models destined to fail. Adjust, welcome change, and prosper. Unfortunately many people, our government included, are trying to hang on to what was, and is no more. This can only lead to failure, sooner or later. I supposed later will at least by some time and soften the blow.

Eric D. Colburn, PLS, "The Geo-Business Innovator", helps geo-professionals improve through innovative solutions, mastery of marketing and business growth strategies, and coaching/training. Eric is a successful, serial entrepreneur, podcaster, industry writer, product development consultant, and RI licensed professional land surveyor.

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2 comments on “The Economy, Cash For Clunkers and a Turning Tide?
  1. Gary Thurman says:

    Not sure what signs you are seeing but it still looks gloomy for surveying. Look at the latest issue of POB, only one small ad for an LS in VA in the private sector.

  2. admin says:


    The signs I see are small, but noticeable – perhaps anything looks up when you’re at rock bottom! Only time will tell if a recovery will “stick”.

    As far as employment within the land surveying industry; it is gloomy and I don’t see any improvements happening too soon, if at all. As a matter of fact, I predict that this recession will be a major blow to the number of employees within our industry. Employment probably will be the last part of the recession to recover and even with business picking up for land surveying companies, I think you will see them implement technology and other efficiencies over human capital.

    This is not to say that it will remain this way, or has to be this way. If we, as an industry, can lead the way in getting society to embrace and use our services beyond as a last resort and because someone makes them, then our industry could blossom into what it is meant to be. We have much to offer. Surveying is important and it is often undervalued, underused and minimized in a pennywise and pound foolish sort of way.

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