"I Promise Not to Blow It Again"

This graph, from McGraw Hill, reminds me of Oklahoma in the 1980s. When I moved to the state at the beginning of the decade, crude oil was selling for up to $80 per barrel, fueling a frenzy of economic activity and real estate speculation. When I left the state a decade later, the price was under $20. That tumble wrecked careers, homes, families, and fortunes.

Acknowledging that the crash was, in large part, the result of excesses that had preceded the fall, I saw the following bumper sticker on the back of a beat-up pick-up truck:

God, Please Send Another Oil Boom.
I Promise not to Blow it Again Next Time.

By asking for a boom, however, the truck owner was probably admitting his inability to resist the temptation for another wave of excess.

Perhaps I am in a pensive mood today, on the eve of a new year. I am grateful that Chusid Associates has bucked the general trend and has actually expanded our staff and services this past year. Yet I am sensitive to all the shuttered storefronts on my street. To the plight of my architect buddies who have had to lay off their staffs and turn out the lights. And to my clients who have had to postponed the launch of new products -- products that could help make buildings safer and greener.

In my prayers for the coming decade, I do not wish for another oil boom, or even for a solar boom. Instead, what I hope for is progress towards a more sustainable economy. A time of retooling industries to lower the CO2 footprint of construction. Investment in infrastructure to protect water resources and make neighborhoods more livable. An end to wanton militarism. Oh, yes, I have a long list.

But having survived at least four economic cycles of boom and bust since I entered the construction industry, I know that idealism must be tempered by realism. So let's hope that during the next boom, when it occurs, we all remember to set aside savings, to invest in sustainable projects, and to be generous to those in need. If we are smart, perhaps we can build businesses and communities that can avoid the worst pain of the next recession.

From all of us at Chusid Associates, I bless you for a good, healthy, and prosperous 2010.