Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

No End In Sight
by James Glaser
October 2, 2009

Yesterday, I went in to the management office to pay my studio rent, and while there two people called in to say this would be their last month. The recession might be over for some people, but not for the small business man or woman in Florida.

Wanda and I took a trip down to Orlando, Florida for her work at the beginning of this week. Orlando, the home of Disney World and Sea World and lots of spin off tourist attractions is hurting, as are all the other cities and towns we passed through on the way down and back. There are a lot of closed businesses, and we saw for sale, for rent, and for lease signs all over the place.

Maybe Florida has been hit harder than most states, but my trip back to Minnesota last month tells me that things are hard all over. My granddaughter, who is a student at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison felt very blessed that she found summer employment, but that was not the case for many of her friends. Laid off workers are taking those summer jobs and any other employment that is out there.

The President and many in Congress have been saying that the recession is over, but the unemployment numbers came out yesterday, and we are back up to 551,000 filing new claims.

Those numbers fit in with what I am seeing down here in North Florida. In the Art Park where my studio is located, I believe there are about 50 small businesses. It must be driving the owners crazy, as every month people are moving out. People do replace them, but usually there is a lag time of a month or more before the vacated space is filled again.

Having empty studio spaces hurts the whole Park, as closed studios are depressing. Many of the people who have left had become my friends, and it is sad to see the economy taking its toll.

Here in Madison, Florida where I now live, things are staying pretty steady for a small town , but our realtor told me that some low priced homes are selling and a few lots, but no commercial property or expensive homes have sold for quiet a while.

I wanted a large oak on our property taken down, and when the word got out I was getting calls from lots of people wanting the job. People want the job, but they want to be paid what they were getting when things were booming down here. I think that will change soon.

People are hunkering down, and so have Wanda and I. Heck the woman has not bought a new pair of shoes for two months. Can you believe that?

I have had to lower my prices in order to get people interested in buying. It seems every store has big sales going on, and it makes me wonder what they are going to do at Christmas to get people in the buying mood. How far can they discount things and still stay in business? One thing that hasn't come down at all, as far as I can see, is the cost of insurance. Insurance is killing the small business owner, and is a major reason labor costs stay so high.

So, the people in Washington are thinking things are getting back to normal. For them, things are looking up. Of course they were sitting pretty before the economy tanked and remember, they all have government jobs—great paying government jobs. So, I guess for them, things are looking up, and for them, maybe the recession is over. I guess if you had a great paying government job, there never was a recession for you.

So, here in the South things have not turned around, and I don't see it even starting to yet. A lot of people's dreams of their own business have been lost, but most will pick themselves up and start over when we get to see the improvement the people in Washington are seeing now. I sure hope that is soon.

Wanda and I have been searching for a church in our new community. It seems like we have been invited to every church in the area, and there are a lot of them. We are not asking for much. We want a church that is Bible based, has sound preaching and teaching, a conservative music program that focuses on old hymns, and a church where young and old, everyone, worship together.

The following paragraph was sent to me, and I think it explains a lot about what we are finding in our search. In Minnesota many churches had polka services, and down here the first thing I look for as I walk in is the drum set or drum sets, the guitars, the dancing girls, and that sad to say is not a joke. If they have that, chances are good that we won't be hearing or singing any traditional hymns. I grew up sitting next to my mother or father in church, and they taught me how to act at the service. Most churches we have gone to have no young children at the service, just a few infants. Children bring something to the church experience, and their presence makes one believe that there is a future in that church.

The wedge contemporary evangelicals are driving between young and old is incredibly short sighted and deadly. Doesn't the Bible itself say that the older should teach the younger? We've turned things around so that anything new (even if unproven) and appealing to the not yet mature, still developing young is trotted out as appropriate worship. More experienced, mature Christians who should be teaching the young about and sharing with them their great Christian heritage are instead asked to "get with it" or "get out." The evangelical church will die if all it can do is try to keep up with secular culture and make its focus offering whatever the latest fads or glitz it can to "attract" the young as if the church were somehow dependent on a Christian advertising machine rather than God to draw people to Him.

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