Can we make the turn?

By the time the sun sets today, two of America’s "big three" automakers will be in bankruptcy. By the end of the week, one of the two should be out of the bankrupt column but it will be owned by an Italian auto company.

When Charlie Wilson ran General Motors he supposedly claimed that "What is good for General Motors is good for the country." What Wilson actually said was "for years I thought that what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa."

Now General Motors is bankrupt. Is that good for the country or bad? No one is quite sure. Like so much that is happening in America today, we’re running on uncharted waters and no one really knows how all this will turn out.

About the only thing we know for sure is that times are bad and probably will get worse before they get better — assuming that they will get better.

Spending is out of control. Government deficits continue to mount. More and more Americans spend more time looking for work than actually working.

Most agree that America and most of the world is mired in a deep recession. Some call it a depression. A few claimed we have turned the corner. Others say the corner isn’t even in sight.

I own a web hosting company that specializes in providing web server space to small business and entrepreneurs. More than half of those businesses have failed or gone into bankruptcy protection over the last 12 months. Others have trouble paying their hosting bills.  Calls for newspaper free-lance work are down this year as papers reduce costs, lay off staff or fail.

A long-time friend with 34 years at The Richmond Times-Dispatch is on the street, caught up in the latest round of downsizing. Another buddy who drove a truck for 20 years now works in a psychiatric ward of a Roanoke hospital, helping control patients who get out of control.

Our military is stretched to the limit with wars in Irag and Afghanistan. Soldier suicides set new records. A soldier in Iraq went postal and killed several comrades.

Yet we continue to hope the worst is over and a turnaround is coming. We have to. America survives on its ability to bounce back. When up against the wall, we resolve to survive and thrive.

Some say America has lost its resolve. Some say we’re old and tired and lack the ability to get back on our feet.

I disagree. I think we can survive this economic morass. I believe America will emerge from this recession as a leaner, more realistic economic giant that is better prepared to deal with a changing global economy.

In my Southwestern Virginia home town, we see a new emphasis on "sustainability" by developing local-based resources that is less dependent on fossil fuels from the deserts of the Mid-East or cheap consumer goods from China peddled through the big box stores.

It’s a small start and we have a long way to go but hard times have a way of bringing people face to face with reality.

Can we make the turn? Yes, I think we can. In fact, I think the turn is in sight.