Everything’s coming up roses

Nevadans look well positioned to revive from the recession, a downturn that some think is fading and others view as the first swoon of a double dip.

Mark this column as a wine-glass-half-full effort rather than one of those dour analyses I sometimes write. No beer-stein-half-empty rant for you guys this week.

Why the optimism? I’m taking the long view, temporarily suspending worries about federal government profligacy, because I sense a shift in national mood. We’ll check that out and then look at Nevada’s future prospects for getting long green by going green.

Even if we get a double dip recession, the United States won’t implode. The nation would even survive a second Great Depression, which is unlikely, though not impossible.

Even if the 19th century was Great Britain’s, the 20th our country’s and the 21st goes to China, the United States will remain a behemoth for generations.

So just what is this major shift that will help us revive and thrive?

Let me throw out words that characterized national attitudes for five decades, which I’ll label liberal—not politically, but rather of the psyche— and then new mood terms showing the future. Ponder this group first:

Spend. Debt-strapped. New. Easy terms. Now. Impulse. Entitled. Diversion. Indulgence. Sale. Instant gratification.

You get the idea. After World War II, the national mood was sunny, pedal-to-the-metal, let’s play offense. Recessions came and went, but inflated expectations looked toward rising rather than receding tides.

Now let’s move to conservative (in an apolitical sense) terms:

Save. Cash flow. Traditional. Risk management. Tomorrow. Reason. Earn. Attentive. Patience. Value. Deferred gratification.

These represent a rising mood.

People talk a lot about the Great Depression. Views on why it ended differ. Some say Keynesian pump-priming via government spending. Some say spending on World War II. Some say a combination. I say OK, each played a part.

But it was the American people who won the day by saving (money) themselves and, thereby, capitalism. The Roaring ’20s gave way to the Thrifty ’30s (by necessity) and Frugal ’40s (with the war, jobs and shared sacrifice).

Today the U.S. consumers’ long period of self-indulgence is slowly being replaced by comparative prudence. The savings rate has climbed and lack of spending could bring a tepid recovery, perhaps even making it sputter enough to cause a double dip. If deflation triumphs as a result, a short depression is possible.

But deferred gratification, savings and the quest for value eventually will spark a revival in capitalism and a more sustainable economy. A solid middle class is capitalism’s underpinning. It results from deferred gratification and produces a real ownership society rather than one propped up by debt.

That, in turn, will salvage the dollar from future wallpaper status.

Now to Nevada’s prospects.

Value means costly California will send Nevada a continuing stream of people, as I’ve noted before, and hence spur state growth. Value means the national need for sustainable energy will bring green jobs in Nevada’s future.

Value means folks will gamble less, though they will return, so Reno will quit trying to be the Biggest Little Las Vegas in the state. Instead, Northern Nevada will turn increasingly to creating a sustainable, greenback-generating economy via alternative energy advances via geothermal and wind.

Southern Nevada, though still a gambling mecca, will go solar.

It isn’t easy being green. But hard will hardly hurt forever if we suck it up, work hard and stay patient.

Meanwhile, please pass that wine bottle, Kermit, so my glass brims awhile rather than staying half empty. I’m busy sucking it up.