Saturday, February 28, 2009

On A Personal Note - The Economy

New Mexico is by no means a well off state. But one of contrasts. There are areas of poverty side by side with areas of wealth. The wealth seems to be in areas adopted by Californians and trust-fund-babies and retirees living off their 401K's and investments.

My area is originally a resort community where people chose to retire early having made good money in real estate or investments. We also have a huge amount of second homes that make you wonder what it is their first home looks like. They call these $500,000 to $4 million houses "cabins. "

This week I had two opportunities to see how the other side lives as it were. One day I helped clean vacation homes for a property maintenance firm. And the next I had a social fete where I got to mingle with the better half of the economic scale.

I live in paradise but on the cheap. Not as cheap as the photo above but somewhere in the middle. I see little adobe shacks as picturesque and those "cabins" as excessive. But it is the people living in the "cabins" that support the economy here with the services they pay for and the taxes they pay and the things they buy when they come here to escape the Houston heat or to play in the snow. And the people that live in the shacks that are employed and receive paychecks because of the cabin owners. Everyone is hurting it would seem on one level or another.

We could all gripe about the utility bills this last month. Why our electrical cooperative decides to raise rates during the month when we are using the most electricity I haven't a clue. I am shocked by my bill but then I am only heating 1500 square feet to 62 degrees. There is a house I know in Red River that has a full-sized indoor ice hockey rink! I want the money he sends monthly to our rural electrical co-op.

But in one sense I do get benefit from that money he "wastes" keeping ice frozen in an over-heated 50,000 square foot house. People are employed at the electrical co-op because of that money. And my electrical service is maintained by the proceeds off that income. The cabins and their owners are the support to a large extent of the lifestyle we enjoy in this valley. If they don't get enough of those bonuses that helped build these cabins they don't pay their taxes or build additions or another home. And all of us are living in those shacks.

And some of my artist friends are able to enjoy their second career because of the money they had in the stock market because of their first career out in the real world. With smaller dividend checks and every spiraling down stock values they too are cutting back. I am not the only one worried about having the money to buy more canvas and more frames.

And meanwhile the suppliers of art materials have raised prices. That was a big subject for conversation at the gallery reception last night. I am even considering making my own frames.
You just keep on keeping on doing what you can do to keep things moving for that day it all begins to recover.