Editor’s Log: Christmas Wishes

This December brings one of the most disconcerting periods we’ve ever faced as an industry. There are so many factors impacting the underground infrastructure market that it is hard to grasp all the implications, let alone find solid direction for which to set course in 2010.

Forecasts and outlooks vary. We’ll do our best in the January issue to project market prospects. We all endeavor to persevere in these uncertain times, but I do think 2010 will mark industry improvement. But perhaps a little optimism and good cheer wouldn’t hurt.

With that in mind, I felt it appropriate to share these special Christmas wishes I’ve considered from an industry perspective. ’Tis the season to reflect and hope that these wishes come to pass.

Peace: For goodness’ sake, stop the aggressive attacks on business. Why is our government so focused on rushing through potentially harmful legislation without so much as a “by-your-leave”? In addition to the well-known, break-neck push for government insurance, carbon taxes and international green accords, there are a plethora of pending rules, regulations, strategic appointments and alarming concepts all aimed at business.

While the underground utility and pipeline construction markets have seen much consolidation over the past 10 years, still, the majority of infrastructure work is done by smaller, local or regional firms. This full frontal assault on business will hit the small companies with just as much overwhelming force as the majors. To pull out of this recession with any hope for long-term stability, business much be allowed to prosper.

Patience: The markets are starting to come back, albeit slowly and with some difficulty. Some will see recovery in the first half of 2010, while others will continue to struggle until later in the year or even 2011.

Understanding: I’m sure many of our readers have felt, much like me, that the needs of the underground infrastructure has been a cry in the wilderness – our elected officials, in general, failed to hear that cry and mass media ignored it, choosing to cover nonsensical news. But when one of America’s flagship newspapers, albeit with a recently tarnished reputation, starts a series called “Toxic Waters,” there is hope that a comprehension of the desperate state of America’s infrastructure may finally be reaching the masses. The New York Times’ most recent installment in this series, “As Sewers Fill, Waste Poisons Waterways,” stresses the severity of our aged and failing sewer/water infrastructure, ill-equipped to deal with current needs, let alone the future.

Tolerance: Political correctness has its place, but enough is enough. I know it’s PC to not use “Christmas,” but I find that being intolerant. Rather, shouldn’t those who are so concerned about political correctness be tolerant of the vast majority of Americans who prefer to keep the holidays a celebration of Christmas?

Generosity: Our government tends to be generous to a fault – a very large fault. Here’s to wishing the government would quit being so generous to lost causes, wasted efforts and undeserving initiatives. Then reclaim and funnel those wasted billions into an investment in America to such worthy – and critical – causes such as replacing our crumbling and dangerous infrastructure that is threatening to send our health standards back to third world status.

Sensitivity: Well, I’ve never been accused over being over-sensitive, so why start now?

Faith: As we all try to pierce the veil of the unknown into 2010, trying to gain just a sliver of insight, we have to keep believing that the underground pipeline and utilities markets will weather the economic storm and begin to experience a turn-around. Some would argue that 2010 will be another poor year. I would counter that experience and trends indicate otherwise. I truly believe we will stabilize and slowly see improvement in 2010. Or perhaps I’m just keeping the faith.

Happiness: See all of the above.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or whatever floats your PC boat . . .

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