The best way to support the Lab is to ignore the Lab
Think of it this way : If Los Alamos got a note from DOE which said, "beginning this date next year, LANL will begin a phased closure to be completed over a period of 4 years. You have that long to come up with something else. It's been nice doing business with you. Have a good day.", what would we begin to do to change our economic base?
Why aren't we doing it now?
We have businesses here that do not rely on LANL -- who do over 50% of their business outside the county line, some as much as 90%. That is one source of revenue. We also have plenty of retirees who are pulling their checks from the Feds and other sources. Again, another source of revenue.
Some will say, but the Lab brings in so much money it could never be replaced, so why bother to try. Folks, it don't matter how much ya got, what counts is what ya do with it.
Right now we have the funds from LANL GRT to be recruiting and establishing businesses that could make goods and provide services that could be sold beyond the county line -- beyond the state line. For every successful business that gets established here, a new source of revenue is added to the local economy. There are over 7,000 LAHS grads -- do not think they all went into the sciences. If we can get just 1% of them to open businesses in the 238 areas which have been left fallow, we could significantly increase the non-LANL portion of the economy and thereby reduce the toxic dependency that the county currently has.
In a few years, LANL will be downsizing -- more of its budget will be "normal operations" and less will be clean-up and construction. The START and other nuke agreements will continue to downsize the stockpile reducing the operations portion of LANL in that area. We must not bank our future, and the future of our children and their children -- for Los Alamos belongs to them more than to us -- on remaining a one-trick pony. Both the trick and the pony get old and tired.
By beginning to upsize the non-LANL non-Science sectors of our economy in manufacture (no I don't mean steel mills), trade, transportation, and tourism now, we can off-set the reductions that LANL will inevitably see.
By diversifying our economic base we will also diversify our population demographics making it possible for people from all walks of life - professions, trades, crafts, arts, and other -- to make a living in Los Alamos. This broader, non-LANL, non-Science demographic will make for a healthier community and one which is less likely to be viciously manipulated. It will also provide a greater variety in demand for goods and services and a healthier retail sector (If you are the only person looking for something, you ain't gonna find it -- if 100 of you are looking for the same thing, it'll be available).
Some who read this may not like my references to Los Alamos of the late 60's (and what, exactly do you have against the 50's and 60's) but I know what Los Alamos was then and what it should have become. But the Times are what we make them to be and we make them to be what they are by Choice. We can Choose to get Los Alamos on a politically, socially, economically healthier path. We can create a town that is self-sufficient and therefore a better host to a large enterprise such as The Lab.
But we absolutely must break from the negativity. "Yes, but...." is how nothing gets done. The Lab will do what the Lab will do in the best interests of The Lab. Time Los Alamos does what Los Alamos does in the best interests of Los Alamos.
And it is absolutely not in the best interests of Los Alamos to have the personal, professional, social, cultural, economic, and political lives of the people of Los Alamos so dominated by a single effect as to fit the classic definitions of addiction, which distorts all other aspects of life into the one twisted fanatasy.What irritates me beyond belief is the attitude of some that not only can Los Alamos not become its own entity, but that it has no right to. That if the Lab goes Los Alamos will not only vanish from the face of the planet but that it SHOULD vanish from the face of the planet.
It is the ten year anniversary of the Fire. Many of the homes destroyed have been rebuilt or replaced. Much of the mountainside is showing new green as tiny spruce, pine, and aspen begin to renew the forest. Take a clue from that. Where there is a will there is a way -- but there must be a will, and right now our will belongs to The Lab, Science City, and LACDC. This must change. Now.
Our assets are not in our degrees or our woodlands. Our assets are our courage.
I have a photo on my desk of a small sailing boat at sea under a full moon. The caption reads: Risk -- you cannot discover new oceans if will not risk losing sight of the shore. Please to read my blog entitled "O Pioneers" (its in the April postings). Risk does not always pay off -- it can indeed lead to disaster. Well, nothing ventured nothing gained. More importantly, Safety and Security are an Illusion. If beyond the edges of the map there be dragons then go forth -- and domesticate the critters. For as sure as you were born -- you will certainly die of something at sometime unappointed by you. What you do twixt mortal birth and Cosmic birth is what counts.
Final thought and final lines from E.A. Poe's "Eldorado" -- "Over the Mountains of the Moon, down through the Valley of Shadow, Ride Boldly, Ride, if you seek for El Dorado."
Los Alamos is Where Discoveries Are Made -- seek to discover new oceans.