I am "of Los Alamos". Being "of Los Alamos" is not a matter of where you are from -- there are those who grew up here who are not "of Los Alamos", and there are those who came from elsewhere who are "of Los Alamos". See, to be "of Los Alamos" is a matter of the heart. If you would prefer to live here than anywhere else you can think of then you are "of Los Alamos". Not everyone who lives in Los Alamos is "of Los Alamos", and not everyone who is "of Los Alamos" lives here. That's unfortunate on both accounts -- means a lot of people are living where they don't really prefer to be and that causes a certain amount of general unhappiness.
But that's the thing: You go where the Job takes you and if it isn't where you truly prefer to be then you make do as best you can. A study last year (sorry, can't cite this directly -- didn't have the sense to download the entire thing) pointed out that 50% of all Americans are not living where they would prefer to be. And it works out that half the folks in the urban/burban environment would prefer the small town lifestyle while half the folks in small towns would prefer the urban/burban lifestyle. That, too, is unfortunate -- means a lot of square pegs being jammed into round holes which is never comfortable for the peg.
Well, people have a tendency to leave it all and take it all with them -- or try to import it later. Mostly its just a matter of trying to round the peg and square the hole. Problem is you wind up altering the character of each to the detriment of both. They become neither-nor's in an uncomfortable fit which doesn't really fit. More is lost than is gained and everyone loses.
Los Alamos has become truly Lab-centric and Lab-myopic. To the detriment of both. The myth is that if the Lab closes, Los Alamos closes. Yeah, well, maybe not -- actually probably not, but if your lifestyle, livelihood, and life are dependent on the Lab its hard to imagine otherwise. And maybe you don't want to imagine otherwise. There is, after all, some perverse comfort in believing that everyone is in the same boat and if you have to drown when the boat sinks, well, so does everyone else. Worst thing imaginable is that the boat capsizes, everyone gets dumped in the drink, and then the boat doesn't have the courtesy to sink.
So what would really happen if The Lab outright closed? Well, first a lot of folks would leave town. Some would be happy to do so, more would be reluctant to do so but wouldn't really have much choice. But not everyone. Some would be able to stay fairly easily, others would re-arrange their life choices in order to stay with some difficulty. Still, Los Alamos population would shrink to a village.
And then.......................it would recover...................and be very different.
The people who would stay would be those who derive a significant portion of their income from outside the county line. That would be retirees of course. It would also be those businesses who have a fairly decent business beyond the county line. And, it would be easier for everyone.
There would be a lot of "affordable" housing. Actually, a lot of affordable everything since there would actually be a surplus of land, housing, and business space. That would be very attractive to a lot of people who aren't here. The commuter flow would reverse: rather than people living in Santa Fe and commuting to Los Alamos there would be an increase of people living in Los Alamos and commuting to Santa Fe (some current residents already do this). Creates a whole new income stream for Los Alamos. Arts, crafts, and music would find Los Alamos ideal -- they could actually afford to live here and the natural setting is certainly inspirational. Another new income stream. Mom-and-Pop-shop business would become the norm, catering to the necessities of a new population with a very different demographic. Over time, small manufacture would develop -- businesses in a variety of industries that would understand the only way to make any money is regional sales, not simply local. Another new income stream. In fact, the local economy would be significantly enhanced by more income streams from beyond the County line than currently exist.
The overall net result would be a whole new population with an entirely different demographic making their living in very different ways. The urban/burban lifestyle expectations of the Big Box, and National Chains would be absurd and the focus would be on re-establishing and re-invigorating a robust small town lifestyle -- you know, what we used to have.
There would be some interesting changes to government as well. Cancel most of the County supported amenities. Cancel also the County expenditures on said amenities. Cancel the Government Palaces -- not needed. Cancel the expenditures also. Government would have to concentrate on necessities and maintaining what exists. No big aquatic center - would have to re-open the high school pool. Probably fewer tennis courts. LA Transit would actually have to charge fares. No Civic Center/Performing Arts Center -- have to make do with what was once simply called the Civic Auditorium (the Duane Smith). While the drop in population and the loss of the grt from the Lab would be a huge hit, the demand for amenities would also drop like a rock because the folks as think they should have those amenities wouldn't be here.
As to the drop in Lab grt, well we haven't really had that big ol' windfall all that long anyway, have we?
So let's see what do we wind up with -- the people who want the urban/burban lifestyle with all the amenities thereto would be gone, which means the demand for the urban/burban lifestyle would be equally gone and the stresses, and costs, to meet that demand would be non-existant. There would be no millionaires -- the whole income demographic would shift downward and begin to look more like a bell curve.
We wind up with a small town with a small but diverse economy and a very diverse population made up of people who really, really want to live here and are willing to do what it takes to be able to live here -- in other words people "of Los Alamos".
We wind up with Los Alamos as it was in the 60's - when it was the Los Alamos Scientific Lab, and much smaller, and when mom-and-pops were healthy, when the population size wasn't much different than it is now, and when Los Alamos had a much more robust everything. Means we get to start all over again and do it right.
There is really no reason we can't do this now -- and keep the Lab. Actually, the windfall profit gives us the resources to Get It Right and build that non-Lab, non-Science economy and society. Los Alamos would become a very successful and robust little town and little County.
Reality Check: Los Alamos really is a small town. Remove the Lab from the equation and you get a small town. Put the Lab back into the equation and you still have a small town -- with an Attitude problem. We really don't have to lose the Lab -- we just have to lose the Attitude.