Thursday, March 31, 2005 | As we journey through “tough-times at San Diego government,” I think of the vast changes which are occurring in our society. In all my seven decades of professionally observing contemporary sociology, there has never been a time like now. It is Alvin Toffler’s “Future Shock” come alive, with accelerating velocity of change which stuns and confuses us.
What is unique is that our perceptions of time and wealth have traveled mutation. (1) Time is now a commodity that we begin to comprehend; the way that we invest our time is more important than how we invest our money; I have named that “timescape,” which I created two decades ago. The other concerns (2) wealth; there has never been more of it spread over so many more people. Some feel that we can buy time with wealth by getting time-saving gizmos, or paid help that expands our time. Some of these wealth/time marriages are: “walk-up tickets” that Delta has unveiled; premium-service flights featuring few passengers and a concierge service in the sky with room to work and fun things to engage in; growing use of helicopters to spin above traffic after you reach your destination and hotel rooms that are opulent or filled to the brim with comfort-producing, stress-reducing conveniences, which will someday dominate hospitals as well.
These are changing society faster than high-tech. Businesses are borrowing the Southwest Airlines philosophy which simply says: “please thy customer,” which so many businesses have forgotten. However, the one place in which it is ignored is in local politics, where wealth might get you some attention, but speed is not an ethic. So many of us waste our time trying to get government to either notice us or to react more quickly to what we are legitimately striving to get done. Government is to ignore people, slow down action and never take risks. That was part of past centuries and must be changed to fit present society and improve our overall productivity.
Sanford “Sandy” Goodkin is acting chairman of Civic Solutions, a group of leaders who analyze San Diego’s problems, prioritize them and search for solutions, representing diverse points of view. He is a trustee of the Urban Land Institute and is a pioneer of residential market and marketing analysis.