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Saturday, Jun 22, 2024

D?j? vu? Or Is Past Telling Us Something?

In preparing our special 20th Anniversary Issue, we were bemused , shocked is much too strong a word , to see how, despite great advances, some things never really change.

Take the battle over the San Diego Convention Center. No, not the last battle. The battle that took place nearly 20 years ago when a fresh-faced Pete Wilson sat in the mayor’s office.

In 1981, voters rejected the $224.2 million Convention Center project largely thanks to an opposition effort led by Libertarians who opposed the plan to finance the center’s construction by selling bonds.

Now flash forward to 1996, and the proposal to expand the Convention Center. Again, the $205 million construction project is stonewalled by Libertarians and self-avowed anti-tax activists who oppose its financing with lease revenue bonds.

Fortunately, construction of the Convention Center and its expansion several years later were approved by voters and the courts, and now the facility is a major economic draw for the region , despite the fears of naysayers.

In 1986, Pacific Southwest Airlines disappeared in the wake of airline deregulation, gobbled up by its larger, market-hungry competitor, USAir. But USAir failed in this market and quickly withdrew, leaving San Diego and much of the Southwest with inadequate air service for many years.

Today, in an even looser regulatory climate, mega-mergers have reached almost manic proportions , oil companies, biotechs, cable and Internet companies are gobbling each other up, growing bigger, fatter, slower. How many will actually collapse of their own weight and leave both shareholders and consumers all the worse for it?

In 1987, the stock market was building toward a crash, with skyrocketing stock prices yanked loose from any connection to their companies’ earnings. On Oct. 19, Black Monday, the house of cards collapsed.

Not quite 13 years later, the stock market is rocketing skyward again. Price-earnings ratios? Who needs them?

D & #233;j & #341; vu? Or is the past trying to tell us something?

They say all hindsight is 20-20. Perhaps. But as we march boldly into the economic future, perhaps it would be wise to take a glance backward and make sure we’re not marching toward the same morass that trapped those who came before us.


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