The promise and possibility of 2012

We’ll not mourn the passing of 2011 much.

It was not a horrible year — there was no 9/11-style terror attack, after all, and no financial meltdown like 2008’s. And the year did see the demise of several despots.

But it hardly offered cause for jubilation.

So, here’s hoping 2012 brings more cause for celebration. Here are some things we hope or expect to celebrate this year.

✔ The economy continues to rebound.

There are signs it will. The housing market has improved nationally somewhat and here in the Grand Valley. Unemployment is slightly improved nationally and, even more so in Colorado. Manufacturing in this country is rebounding, as The New York times reported Friday.

In Colorado, there was good economic news a week ago, with the latest budget forecast for the state showing marked improvement over the previous forecast from September.

The economic recovery could be derailed, of course. A worsening of the crisis in Europe, more bank failures, another downturn in the housing market or some as-yet unforseen calamity could all cause the recovery to go off the tracks.

✔ Regional energy production keeps growing, providing high-paying jobs for area residents, needed tax revenue for local governments and an overall boost to the area’s economy.

Again, there are indications that this is occurring, from Williams’s announcement that it will spend millions of dollars upgrading a key compressor station to the steady progression of trucks heading up valley from Grand Junction every morning.

But the real key to more gas development and production is the price of natural gas, which remains far below what it was a few years ago. Efforts such as the increasing use of compressed natural gas in vehicle fleets and the addition of more gas-fired electric plants will help. But gas prices are still driven by many factors beyond the control of anyone in this region.

✔ Elections occur. We realize many Americans are sick to death of politics and politicians, even as the first official contest of the 2012 presidential race is set for Iowa in just two days.

And it’s not just the president. There are House and Senate races at stake, state legislative seats and county commissioner contests. Many will be marked by mudslinging and unwarranted personal attacks. We sincerely hope that isn’t the case in local campaigns in western Colorado.

But, however nasty and tiresome the election season becomes, Americans should celebrate this fact: Once again in 2012 — as we have regularly since 1789 — we will vote on who should run our government, from Washington, D.C., to county courthouses. And we’ll do so without resorting to bombs and tanks and soldiers to achieve the outcome we want. No other country on Earth can claim such a long history of choosing all levels of its government by democratic, nonviolent means.

✔ Western Colorado continues to be one of the most desirable places in the world to call home. With its proximity to mountains and deserts and vast acreages of spectacular public lands, its magnificent climate and its strong sense of community, the Western Slope will be a tremendous place to live in 2012.

We wish all of our readers a happy and prosperous New Year.


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