Time Mag– Again!

  At least this time, we’re not the cover story.  Still, a Time magazine article is again full of gloom and doom about Florida, which the magazine’s headline suggests may be the “Sunset State”. 

   Last time, it was Miami that came in for a withering Time assessment– “Paradise Lost” blared the headline on the cover.  That was in November 1981, when crime and drugs and refugees and race riots were dominating local headlines.

  I covered the fallout, and watching some of WTVJ’s coverage of the “Paradise Lost” controversy brought back memories and spurred some reactions in me. 

   Back then, it was all about tourism.  Locals fretted that bad publicity would keep visitors away.  Visitors were, after all, phoning up the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce and asking “Is it safe to trravel there?” The immediate response was to increase the tourism ad budget, and print up buttons declaring “Miami’s for Me”. 

  Eventually, Miami’s image was restored.  “Miami Vice” made the area look a little dangerous, but way too cool to pass up.  And it’s certainly true that the history of the state is one of big booms and big busts.  Another big boom may be a few years away.

  But now, it’s not a matter of localized problems scaring off visitors.  In fact, tourism hasn’t been in bad shape.  It’s residents that are leaving.

  Just last week, census figures showed cities like Hollywood and Coral Springs losing population– unheard-of in South Florida history.  Friends just back from visiting their second home in North Carolina report (maybe with some exaggeration) that 25% of the license tags they saw up there were Florida plates.  These friends say they’re considering moving up to NC.

  The term for FL transplants in NC is “halfbacks”… people who moved from NY down to Florida during boom years, but are now moving halfway back home.

   The problems seem bigger now than in ’81 (though maybe problems always look easier to solve in the rear-view mirror).  This time– it’s all of Florida facing a big “piper must be paid” moment.  Pessimism about the state’s economy is near-universal (though, as long as Charlie Crist draws breath, it won’t be universal among Floridians).

   And even if the economic challenges are of the usual, cyclical variety, the threat of global warming on a low-lying peninsula looks less and less like it’s subject to cycles, certainly not cycles controlled by the hand of man.

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One Response

  1. Nice job Nick.

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