Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Changing the political environment

A few articles this morning caught my attention. The ever-interesting opinion page of the New York Times had a thoughful article by David Brooks (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/opinion/10brooks.html?ref=opinion) and a more polemical piece by Bob Herbert (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/opinion/10herbert.html?ref=opinion). The economic crisis does seem to be causing some people at least to start questioning very fundamental principles. According to Herbert, US per capita GDP rose by 66% btween Reagan's first inauguration in 1980 and 2005. During the same period, average income for more Americans decreased. So under a series of conservative governments (I include the Clinton/Gingrich years in this group) there was an enormous shift of wealth to the richest slice of society. Not surprisingly perhaps the Republican Party seems unwilling or unable to offer any constructive options today (see Jack Cafferty (http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/10/cafferty.republicans/index.html?eref=rss_topstories) because they may have yet to make the internal leap that the system they sponsored for the past 30 years is fundementally broken.

Whatever the path out our current situation is, it is not a return to 'trickle down' fiscal policy and the Republicans seem to have no alternative as yet. This is not good news for anyone , conservative or progressive. Without a viable and dynamic opposition, the unreconstructed wing of the Democratic Party (Nancy Pelosi step forward) will see no urgency to get behind the Obama message of change.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Web Development Part 2

In Part 1 I closed with the rather obvious observation that the market for property-related web sites had drastically shrunk in the last 18 months. Shrunk, but not completely disappeared, because the motivations that drove the boom in overseas property purchase haven't gone away, just the degree to which we can afford to indulge them.

People still want to find a warmer/ cheaper/ more vibrant/ more diverse environment for retirement, for extended holidays, for a place for their home-based business. As we sink ever deeper into this economic morass the 'cheaper' motivation will of course be uppermost, and so I believe that more and more people from the UK and the US will look overseas for retirement options that offer a lower cost of living. With retirement funds depleted and lower returns available on those funds, the choice will be to work on indefinitely (if indeed that choice is even available), or find somewhere that allows your money to keep you in an acceptable lifestyle.

So I believe that Places Compared has a future in serving that need. We'll see! Meanwhile the concept behind Places Compared has evolved into something larger, which I will write about later.