We either continue to totter at the brink of a global financial precipice, or we sit crumpled on the canyon floor far below, peering skyward, wondering what might have been, and resolving to pick up what pieces we can and carry on.
It is impossible to tell as this magazine goes to press in December just where we may find ourselves, and in what shape, come the early days of January 2013. Those elected parties with responsibility for the state of our fiscal affairs, who in the best of all possible worlds would possess some sort of vision for the future, continue to posture, prevaricate, pander, and generally excuse themselves from worrying about what may happen to the rest of us. After all, they will still be in office and drawing good salaries come the New Year, come what may.
The GNSS industry has pulled through the last half-decade of worldwide recession as well as most, better than many. There have been some casualties along the way, and almost universal belt-tightening. But we keep moving onward and upward, blessed with a technology that continues to find new and profit-bearing applications, and encouraged by researchers further out in front of us, who discover and develop yet newer possibilities at an astonishing rate.
Now we face new uncertainty. The domino-paths of the global economy wend this way and that, curving, intertwining, doubling back, snaking everywhere. A toppled piece here can lead to a cascaded pile-up way over on the other side of the board, and vice versa.
It all comes down to end-user ability to buy, to upgrade, to invest in the future — as opposed to holding tight to whatever can be preserved in the present.
If characterizing GNSS end-users could be done by naming off surveyors, farmers, fishermen, and other outdoor enthusiasts, then determining the economic outlook for this industry would be easier to do, though the picture might not necessarily be any more optimistic. But the GNSS end-user community has swelled almost immeasurably to include the automotive industry, the telecommunications industry (in both its infrastructure and its own end-user equipment), utilities, airlines and the aircraft industry, militaries around the world, and even governments themselves — municipal, state, and national. Every one of these entities has a budget and acutely feels the chills — and in more delayed fashion, the warnings — of national and global economies.
Should the United States Congress, in full possession of all its political wisdom, drive the country over the fiscal precipice, reverberations of the crash in the chasm below will propagate far and wide — and into the very marrow of our bones.
We have overcome before. With science and technology as our co-pilots (or are they our engines?), we shall overcome again. We may and should speak out, attempting to influence the political process, but we cannot control its outcomes.
We can do our own jobs, and we will. Accept change, keep calm, carry on.