One of the big issues facing Maine today is the ‘concept plan’ proposed by the Plum Creek Timber Company. Plum Creek is not a Maine business, they currently own several hundred thousand acres in the state, but they are actually based in Seattle Washington. As a super brief synopsis of the company, they are one of the largest private landowners in the United States. Plum Creek Timber was formed when Burlington Northern had to get rid of its land holdings to avoid antitrust problems, and they became a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) in 1999 when the designation came into being to avoid having to pay corporate income taxes.

I was asked the other day why I was so dead set against development for the state of Maine. The statement led to the creation of yesterdays post on think and want. The truth is, I am not against development. In fact, I encourage development. But for me to support it, it needs to be wise development. And not just wise for the people who are doing the developing, as in the Plum Creek situation. Development in Maine needs to bring meaningful and productive work to the state of Maine. I don’t consider resorts and retail to be meaningful productive employment. These types of jobs are little more than service jobs.

What Maine needs, in my opinion, is to return to its heritage of manufacturing. Its heritage of lumber, farming and fisheries. This is what made Maine a leader among the states. Real Estate investment is an iffy thing at best in today’s market. If we jump into this proposal, we will be in for a sorry time of it, especially if you are a resident in the area. Too many investors have put their futures in the hands of the real estate market. And that’s where most of our economic woes are generated today.

I’ve been saying for a long time that we are in for a severe recession, and some analysts are predicting worldwide fallout, with the potential for this recession to turn into a depression. Read this article from today’s Washington Post for more details on that prediction…..

http://letters.washingtonpost.com/W0RH01182A40AFE7194C83499B8190.
Global Stocks Plunge as U.S. Crisis Spreads
Stock markets around the world plummeted yesterday as a financial crisis that began in the market for U.S. home mortgages spread to almost all corners of the globe.
(By Neil Irwin and Zachary A. Goldfarb, The Washington Post)

And for a more local take on the economy, here’s one from WCSH News…..

http://www.wcsh6.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=78916.
Governor: Brace For More Bad Economic News
WCSH-TV – Portland, ME,USA
That’s the message this weekend from Governor John Baldacci. In his weekly radio address, he says Mainers must prepare with compassion and determination. …

Like I’ve said before, all sorts of things can happen as unintended consequences. Is the LURC going to pin the hopes of a few on an industry that is beginning to implode upon itself? Or are they going to do the right thing and deny the proposal from Plum Creek? We need development in Maine. But development should be to our benefit, and our growth, not purely for the benefit of people who have no vested interest in the state of Maine.

Here’s an article indicating more of what’s to come in the real estate game from the New York Times……

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/business/22legal.html?th&emc=th.
If Everyone’s Finger-Pointing, Who’s to Blame?
By VIKAS BAJAJ
The turmoil in the mortgage markets has incited a wave of legal tangles, as homeowners are suing lenders, lenders are suing banks, banks are suing loan specialists. And investors are suing everyone.

Maine. What will become of us as the economy worsens? It’s our future, shouldn’t we be the ones to decide?
That’s my Maine view for today.

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