The Red Queen Dance – the New Normal

Alice in Wonderland

Today, Sunday, November 14, 2010, produced two interesting journalist pieces from opposite ends of the state of Nevada.  From Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Sun there is a story about Las Vegas losing residents; Las Vegas Population in Decline; Will it Reverse? According to the story Las Vegas has lost 50,000 residents in the last year.  The article goes on to predict mild growth for the next five years – but not from new immigration, rather from births to current residents – the majority of which would be Hispanic. The once fastest growing city in the country has joined the ranks of mid-western industrial cities like Detroit; Vegas has the nation’s highest unemployment and highest foreclosure rate – the mirror opposite of the days when it had 3 percent unemployment, an ever expanding construction industry and the fastest appreciating housing prices in the nation.  The article does not attempt to predict any return to those days, the author, J. Patrick Coolican, believes the free-fall has slowed or stopped and the next five years will be relatively stable. He quotes one demographic expert who thinks the majority those intending to leave have already left or will soon and thus ushering in stability.

In the north, Cory Farley writing an opinion piece for the Reno Gazette-Journal talked about the evolution of his personal thinking about the Great Depression and what recovery will look like.  Farley’s piece is titled: New Normal Hard to Forecast in Post-Great Recession. Cory speculates about what the “new normal” will be – and he freely admits that he does not know what to expect.  Like the rest of us, back in 2008 he thought we had just hit a bump in the road and things would go back to “normal” in short order. Now, again like the rest of us, he no longer believes that – he does think we are headed for the new normal, or as in the case of the Vegas article, stabilization in new terms. Whatever that may be.

Alice in Wonderland gave us a fictional world where the rules were unclear and things changed without regard for the normal rules or conventions of life – in Alice’s case that meant Victorian English rules and conventions.  However, Alice has a secondary life, in today’s evolutionary science discussions – the Red Queen state.  The term red queen theory implies a species, individual or in our case a society (or city) that has to run as fast as it can to stay in the same place.  That would be my personal working definition of the new normal – I am not looking for the new, bigger, better and more expensive world we believed was a permanent part of our privileged lives two or three years ago; instead I look at a future where each of us will work has hard as we can to stay where we are.  Not quite as exciting or promising a vision as that ever expanding vision of 2006 or so, but a sight better than a vision that includes – ala Dante and his Inferno – a long spiraling descent into purgatory.   And that was a vision that the pundits were selling just a year or so ago. It may not feel like it, but there has been progress, in visions if not in living conditions.



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