Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Charles Lawton: Maine's "economic and demographic death spiral"

Charles Lawton is a well known economist and consultant who has a column every week in the Sunday paper. He was the keynote speaker at the recent annual meeting of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the politically appointed group charged with overseeing the redevelopment of the Brunswick Naval Air Station.

Lawton reportedly gave an optimistic assessment of what the future holds, especially as it relates to the base. This comes as no surprise, I suppose, since those who are paid to speak at such events would not do themselves any favor by delivering bad news. Put on the old rose colored glasses, sip a little wine, laugh it up, and rub shoulders with the great and near great.

Simply put, this was not an event where harsh reality would be welcomed.

It came as a shock to this reporter, then, that in his regular column of this past Sunday, Lawton would use the most pessimistic language I've ever seen in any of his prior offerings. Why would this be? Has he seen facts the rest of us haven't? Is the end of the Baldacci reign a signal for Charles to go blunt? Is he suddenly really, really worried?

At some level, the reason why is something to be determined in due time via future offerings or conversations. For the moment, his choice of words are the item of greatest interest. You can read the entire column here.

Here are the two passages that caught my attention, which is a challenge in and of itself:

An avowed capitalist, he is motivated by his love for Maine and a deep-seated conviction that nothing short of a revolution of creativity and innovation will save his beloved home state from the economic and demographic death spiral it is slipping ever closer to entering.

And then there's this:

Those wishing to help Maine avoid the death spiral must also convey this same message to the world at large.

This makes it pretty clear to this reader that Lawton, a very public voice, believes Maine is staring directly at a death spiral....both economic and demographic. I agree completely, and I have substantial evidence to back it up, as does anyone with an open mind.

Time to wake up, Maine.

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