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Something Scary This Way Comes

I have a negative relationship with debt. Personally, professionally and politically, my comfort level goes up as debt goes down. And in this mother of


I have a negative relationship with debt. Personally, professionally and politically, my comfort level goes up as debt goes down. And in this mother of all recessions, debt level has been hotly debated.

Despite my aversions, I'm finding credibility in the arguments that the surest way out of this economic funk (and to avoid an even greater economic catastrophe) is through targeted government spending that puts people to work ó even if it means taking on more debt. Some economists say that we could have emerged from the Great Depression sooner had President Roosevelt and Congress not allowed concerns over national debt to put government spending in check.

I'm deeply troubled that Congress could not pass a long-term transportation bill before Oct. 1. A series of extensions and continuing resolutions does not instill certainty or confidence in the construction and aggregate industries. And these industries badly need certainty to take the capital risks the country needs to spark our economy.

Absent a transportation bill, the administration needs to consider a targeted stimulus package aimed at the building industries. Even if it only carries us through the end of 2010, the package should be large enough to make hiring and purchasing a good business decision for construction-related companies.

RECENTLY, I READ a book composed of a series of interviews between PBS journalist Bill Moyers and renowned mythology expert Joseph Campbell. One of the take-aways from the book was that people use mythology to help define themselves and their cultures. In short, the stories we tell help us make sense of who we are.

The litmus test for an article to earn space on the pages of Rock Products is that it must improve the ability of someone running an aggregate operation to succeed in that business. So how, some will ask, does a collection of ghost stories (see page 24) turn that metaphorical paper blue?

Whether you believe in ghosts or not is of no consequence. My hope is that the tales in this article will entertain. Yet on a deeper level, these stories, like myths, help define the culture of communities where quarries operate. These stories show that quarrying is deeply woven into the fabric of communities. It is also interesting to consider these tales from the point of view that the aggregate industry is its own culture.

With so much conflict between quarry owners and community residents, it is easy to overlook how entwined are the fates of both groups. These stories are but one component, and not the most important, of what it means to be a quarry operator. I hope you enjoy the stories, and for the love of God, do not wander the quarry alone at night.

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