Relocating to Arizona; Fuel Prices and Scooters; and Writer’s Block

Posted By Mike Padgett

May 9, 2011

– Opinion –

You might disagree but…..

***

Arizona has been my home since 1968, and I can’t remember when the light at the end of the state’s financial tunnel was this dim. If anyone in another state were to ask me about relocating to Arizona, I would say, “Do more research.”

They need to study extremist politics in the Arizona Legislature. They need to read about lawmakers focusing on endorsing a state gun, requiring presidential candidates to prove their citizenship, immigration, and allowing people to carry guns on college campus rights of way and into state and local government buildings.

Gov. Jan Brewer exhibited wisdom when she stood up to her Republican ideologues and vetoed their citizenship proposal, as well as the measures allowing weapons on college campuses and in public buildings. By the way, the endorsement of an “official” state weapon could be a technical violation of the state Constitution. For details, read http://bit.ly/lxKUy7.

These bold gun proposals from Arizona legislators came in the wake of the Jan. 8 massacre in which six people died and 13 were injured, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Doctors say Giffords, who was shot in the head, is making an amazing recovery. Suspect Jared Loughner faces a large number of criminal counts related to the shootings.

A state’s radical politics intimidates the business community. If employers are local, they will put on hold any plans for expansion in a state guided by extremism politics. If employers are out of state and are considering a move into a state with extremist leadership, they likely will shift their attention elsewhere.

That means Arizona’s existing unemployment of more than 9 percent is likely to remain unchanged, at least until the existing political leadership shows signs of compassion and moderation. And with that high rate of joblessness, the state will continue carrying its existing inventory of unsold homes. The jobless are not buying homes.

Sure, look for improved home sales. But some of those new sales will be to investors and speculators. Interested owner-occupants looking for work will keep their purchase plans on hold. Which begs the question, who will become Arizona’s future buyers and renters? For all of the above reasons, Arizona will be slower on the rebound when the national economy begins regaining strength.

Plus, the Legislature has attached so many financial gimmicks to the state budget in recent years, look for annual budget battles to become more divisive. The GOP-dominated Legislature used smoke and mirrors this year to obscure the state’s immediate budget troubles. To avoid raising state taxes, state legislators shifted more costs to the budgets of cities and towns, which will be forced to raise their taxes. I would expect one or more of those tax measures to lead to court challenges. Don’t believe me? Check this editorial in The Arizona Republic for details. http://bit.ly/ggDKHk. For more specifics, read this opinion column by Democrat Chad Campbell, minority whip of the Arizona House of Representatives. http://bit.ly/lwcwPO.

Impacts of fuel prices

Rising fuel prices hurt consumers’ pocketbooks everywhere, but especially in the West where mass transit is less prevalent and there are many miles between cities. As fuel prices rise, consumers tend to drive less. Or they trade in the gas guzzlers for more fuel-efficient vehicles. And with the impending retirement of baby boomers, the nation’s largest workforce in history, look for a decline in fuel sales as the boomers stop commuting. All of these factors translate into reduced fuel sales, and that means less fuel taxes paid for road improvements. Which means more deterioration of roads and bridges. Have potholes? Get used to them.

In Arizona, home sales and fuel sales go together. Many new unsold homes are in housing developments on the edge of the metro Phoenix region. Who can afford long commutes when fuel is $4 or more per gallon? I anticipate an increase in housing sales closer to city cores and employment centers. Developers tell me they expect future residential and commercial growth to be focused within the metro Phoenix region’s ring of freeways.

Scooters and fuel prices

Rising fuel prices could have a negative impact on OPEC, too. There is a new report predicting a rapid increase in the sales of scooters worldwide. Once scooter owners start experiencing dozens of miles per gallon, they could depend less on their larger vehicles. The report is available at http://www.pikeresearch.com/research/electric-motorcycles-and-scooters.

Writer’s block

Suffering from creative block, whether you’re a writer, photographer or sculptor? It happens. For me, writer’s block is like running into a brick wall. The energy is there, but the words aren’t. My solution is setting aside my plan to write and listening to what I have indexed in my iTunes library as “Power Rock” and “Soundtracks Power Music.” Almost always, the music’s energy clears the fog obscuring my creative juices. My music library includes classic rock ‘n’ roll and movie soundtracks. On the rare occasion when music doesn’t break the block, I’ll try again tomorrow. My muse will return.

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(Updated May 10, 2011)


May 9th, 2011

One Comment to 'Relocating to Arizona; Fuel Prices and Scooters; and Writer’s Block'

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  1. Peggy Hodges said,

    A very thoughtful article, Mike. I moved to Arizona for sunshine and swimming pools but if one were to seriously consider the political climate other decisions might be made. Excellent research and links for further consideration. Lots of food for thought!

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