Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger said recently, and it likely will be repeated, that it is important right now that we get our economics right.

Those economics have been so wrong for so long: massive unprecedented federal debt, business bashing, intrusive government regulation, out-of-control public unions and pensions, growing state and municipal deficits and threats of rising taxes.

And, perhaps worst of all, is the notion that we can somehow spend ourselves back to prosperity when it is an undisputed economic fundamental that we must have savings and private capital creation to finance investments and create wealth in the future.

That’s why it was as if the heavens opened last week when Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo spoke about his vote with the majority supporting the state-of-the-art Dutra asphalt plant in Petaluma, the subject of sometimes hysterical accusations by opponents.

Mr. Carrillo gets the connection between wants versus needs, between private enterprise and public goods.

“I can’t understand the distinction between wanting certain things, needing certain things and not understanding where they come from,” he told the audience at the Dutra hearing on Tuesday.

“We’re discussing preservation of local roads, ADA-accessible parking lots, bicycle and walking trails.”

Re-emphasizing the connection between private enterprise and the success of community is really at the foundation of the Impact Sonoma conference on Tuesday morning at the Doubletree Hotel in Rohnert Park.

And leading off that discussion Tuesday will be special guest Jay Abbe, whose long career consulting with companies culminated in his leadership of Optical Coating Laboratory Inc. and its spectacular buyout by JDSU at the start of this decade.

Mr. Abbe will bring many insights to Tuesday’s discussions. One of the most fundamental is that for a business to succeed, it must have a cost advantage over competitors or possess the unique ability to innovate, and preferably both.

Regions that create those basic conditions, and understand that they must do so in the context of global competition, will be the most prosperous.

And those differences on cost or innovation don’t have to be large. For instance, they could be lower home prices relative to the central Bay Area or properly harnessing educational assets.

It’s all about knowing what those unique assets are, preserving them and harnessing their power.


Brad Bollinger is Business Journal editor in chief and associate publisher. He can be reached at 707-521-4251 or bbollinger@busjrnl.com.