Web-Exclusive Columnist Giles Lamberston

Thu August 01, 2013 - National Edition
Giles Lambertson



For half a decade, the U.S. economy has resembled a giant sloth. The huge mammal moved slowly on the sides of its feet, specialized in consuming low-hanging choice leaves, and rested a lot between meals. Our construction economy acts similarly—inching along awkwardly and inefficiently, feasting on stimulus handouts, and pausing just when real momentum seems in the offing.

The giant sloth no longer exists, and this lethargic economy can’t disappear fast enough for anyone wearing a construction hardhat.

Economists tell us the nation’s economic engine actually is recovering, rebuilding itself from the 2007-08 recession. Yet construction activity remains erratic in 2013, acting more like an economy in early rehab than recovery. Talk of a rebounding industry seems premature with federal sequestration capping some construction funding sources, states struggling to avoid pension defaults—and the Highway Trust Fund account going to zero in 2015.

Hola! Is this a crisis or what? What can we do?

Well, we can talk about it, for one thing. This blog is dedicated to the idea that public discussion aids digestion of difficult realities and builds strong bodies 12 ways. We can’t actually substantiate the latter, but neither could Wonder Bread. The point is, discussing industry news, trends, and issues is good for us. We invite you and other readers to help us explore the topics on all our minds.

We promise that problematic—sometimes inept—government policies will not dominate our topical agenda. We would just as soon talk about amazing engineering in new generations of equipment. The relentless quest to create zero emissions is a worthy subject. The implications of operating in a world marketplace continue to surprise us. Industry leaders and major exhibitions may deserve comment from time to time.

Together, we can build this blog into something special.