The good news

by Brian Clarey

If we wipe away the hoopla about Greensboro’s proposed downtown luxury hotel, we can see that there is a larger narrative here, one that is playing out in the Triad and places like it all over the country.

The big story is that federal recovery zone money has finally trickled down through the bureaucracy and is starting to hit the streets.

Cuyahoga County, which encompasses the municipality of Cleveland, Ohio, will use $64 million or so in recovery bonds to partially finance a medical complex and convention center. In Buffalo County, Neb. $3.5 million will go to road projects. Ashtabula County, also in Ohio, is ceding its share of Recovery Zone Bonds — $17 million — to neighboring Medina County for, of all things, a luxury resort and spa.

In the Triad we have a lot more going on than our hotly contested hotel. The outpost of Deep Roots Market planned for downtown Greensboro seems a viable project. An investment in Pyramids Village, by Wal-Mart off Highway 29, and a proposed solar farm on the outskirts of town are at least interesting enough to pique our curiosity. Winston-Salem has been the recipient of $4.8, which will go towards improving public parks and roads.

Sure, some of these projects are more viable than others.

But the point is that there is money in the pipeline; there are projects in the works. There is activity in our stagnant economy, albeit activity propagated by the federal government, the spender of last resort.

The arguments against government spending have all been made and duly registered: The government has no business messing with the God-given dictates of supply and demand; public money should not be used for private gain; it’s socialism, for crying out loud.

We’re pretty sure, though we’re not positive, that this type of spending is what the Tea Parties are all about.

And yet, here we are, poised to reap some actual rewards in the form of jobs, industry and structural improvements. And maybe it won’t be so terrible after all.

After the last Great Depression FDR’s New Deal, which has taken its own revisionist beatings of late, saw hundreds of revitalization projects — bridges, dams, courthouses, community events, schools and even literature, painting and media. It helped staunch the bleeding of unemployment and underemployment while greatly enhancing quality of life in our cities and towns.

It means now much the same as it did then: that the economy is getting an injection of life-sustaining cash which will ostensibly go into the hand of consumers who will spend it on the necessities of life.

And then, like now, the government was one of the only entities that had any money to spend.

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