Sunday, January 11, 2015

Economic Development WHEN It's Politically Advantageous

Today's blog will focus on something that we all benefit from, Economic Development. In my part of the world, economic development has been in the news around the whole country. Unemployment, Job Growth, Job Creation and Investment all come to the forefront. I come from a small 'mill town' in Northern Maine and have felt the pain of a large employer closing it's doors. Today, while watching the news, the topic of the Verso Paper Company plant closure in Bucksport, Maine came up. Suddenly a number of 'brain trusts' pop up to explore economic development opportunities...But I ask, why did you wait until now?

There is a very easy answer for this, Complacency. We see it on the national level and it starts at the local level. A locale like Bucksport, Maine with a large taxpayer like Verso can afford to just sit back and let the money roll in. Many towns like this just assume that money will always be there, just like our ever growing federal government. When you have a, perceived, guaranteed 60% of your budget coming from one taxpayer, where is the incentive to push for greater economic diversity? There is none. They have plenty of money coming it and it's wouldn't necessarily be politically advantageous to seek out other economic opportunities for the area.

That same scenario is played out on the national level, that's why we don't see more job bills and precisely why we see more handouts. How can handouts be more advantageous that jobs you may ask? Look at it like this, you get 5000 people jobs in a plant that makes televisions, possibly 70% of those are so thankful that they'll remember it when it comes time to vote, the other 30% feels it is their own hard work that keeps them employed. Now, another politician gets 50,000 a handout, such as a new phone. When it comes time to vote, these politicians come to the mic and the guy that brought in the 5000 jobs goes on and on about trying to bring in more jobs, greater growth, self-reliance and promote individual accountability. He has great ideas and speaks for a full 30 minutes. The guy that gave out the phones simply states "the other guy wants to take your phone" Boom, mic drop, which spurs all of the 50,000 that go out to vote to vote for the politician that got them the phone.

They play to the numbers, even at the local level. That 60% tax base at the local level could be jeopardy if they tried to bring in other businesses that would create a competitive labor market and possibly end up costing that large employer more in labor costs. I'd be willing to be that there is a company representative that is in contact with the town council parroting these same remarks. At the national level it's the same story. Go ahead, don't take my word for it, get on Google and see just who benefits from legislation around the country. Sure your going to find some rather large companies that are being beat up by regulation, taxation and being demonized, but there has to be a good guy and a bad guy. If you dig a little deeper you'll find that a lot of these same companies enjoy huge tax breaks/incentives, government contracts and juicy backroom deals crafted to enrich them. It's a bonus for both sides! Politicians get their bad guy, the company actually benefits on the back end. Politicians are in it for the short game, most of these companies are playing long. The average voter is like Ten Second Tom from 50 First Dates. This needs to change!

Imagine, if you will, this scenario: We have a politician who is looking for an immediate boost in the polls and an oil company that would love to have a politician to possibly use in the future. BigBadOil, "Hey Candidate A, we have a sure fire way to get you a 15 point bump in the polls". Candidate A, "Ok, you have my attention, go on." BBO, "We've been fracking for gas over in Hazzard County and it seems we've had a few people who have had their water catch fire...but only a few!" Candidate A, "Wow, that's crazy! How does that help me?" BBO, "Well, we've just about got all we can out of the ground over there and there happens to be a large base of voters over there that support your opponent. You come in stomp your feet, makes us the bad guy and we'll pack up and move out." Candidate A,"But I don't understand, what do you get out of this, isn't this really bad for your image?" BBO, "Oh, let us worry about image, we have a team for that. What we get out of it, is that later on AFTER you're elected, we just want a seat at your table any time energy policy comes up. That's it, just a seat. We'd like a guaranteed voice at that table. Nothing hinky." Candidate A, "Just a seat? I can do that!" BBO, "Thank you, SENATOR A (wink wink)! We'll have our public relations representative give your assistant the details so this all works out the way we've postulated. We look forward to working with you in the future!"

What the Candidate doesn't understand, is that BigBadOil has employed a very persuasive person with a doctorate in psychology to sit at that table. They have analyzed the future senator's likes and dislikes right down to his aversion to women with large feet and have chosen the perfect person to help steer the good senator how they see fit. They understand that this is an imperfect science, but they remove all the variables they can control. That guaranteed voice at the table is not only a voice, it's a cacophony of ques crafted to ply the vote to their favor. The individual tax payer/citizen no longer has a guaranteed place at the table.

We need politicians that don't worry so much about the short game and always play long. Let's start with term limits, that will help them not worry about longevity. They will be able to make tough decisions that way all the options but focus on the long game. Special interests can't ply their vote with sweet deals and giving them a bad guy to pick on. 

That's my two cents, spend 'em or put 'em in the dish for the next person.

Friday, January 9, 2015

A Police State Really Isn't A Police State

 It's been a very long time since I've set out to write a blog. On one hand I felt that I wasn't reaching as big an audience that I would hope to, on the other hand I felt as if my words were becoming a bit 'tin foil hatish'.
A recent comment on a friends Facebook page really was for myself. My words are a release for me, getting my thoughts out on paper helps me. If these words help another, then that's a bonus! Now, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I AM NOT A CONSPIRACY THEORIST. I look at facts and form a plausible opinion, some of my opinions may take a little creative license but they are my opinions, this is my sandbox and my toys. Don't like them find another sandbox. Now that we have that disclaimer out of the way....

There has recently been a huge surge in an 'Us against them' mentality when it pertains to the police. What should be a local issue, many issues in the news appear to be pulled to the national spotlight prior to being vetted as an issue altogether. While there has seemingly been a few instances of, what could be deemed, overreach of authority, it appears to be relatively isolated and, in many cases, erroneously placed. The current political followers have put there faith in a media that places sensationalism above journalism, paid mouthpieces like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson (I refuse to call him Reverend, no 'Man of God' would run his mouth like Jesse) to drive their collective viewpoint. I, personally, stand with local police as those who should be enforcing the law.

Those that put on a uniform with the express intent of enforcing the laws of local, state and federal society should be lauded for their service. It's can not be an easy task to get up in the morning (or night) put on that outfit complete with bullet proof vest and say goodby to your family, for what could be the last time. It also has got to be unbelievealby frustrating to be demonized by a public that expects you to question every move you make, up to and including, taking a life to protect your own or innocent bystanders. If any of my readers are in the category of 'Cop Haters', stop reading now, for I'd hate to burst your bubble. If you think your bubble ain't all that strong to begin with, keep right on reading.
Policeman with two lost dogs (Click to follow link)

Police are often described as highly trained individuals when in fact many local police are fresh out of a quick training course that merely emphasizes safe handling of a firearm, safe driving, basic overviews of laws and rules and personal conduct. These people are very often someone that resides in the area and have a vested interest in it's safety. These are people that are our brothers, sisters, cousins, friends. The vast majority of them have chosen this path because they truly believe they can make a difference. While in any profession there are bad people, I don't believe for a second that all those whom choose this path are bad. There are some extremely horrible chefs out there, but you don't go into a restaurant expecting the chef to poison you do you? Why is it that we currently have people in areas protesting police and going as far as chanting 'Kill All Cops'? What would happen if we were out in the street chanting 'Kill All Chefs' because of a bad chef taking out a few people with salmonella? Can you see the irony?

Here's some 'tin foil hat' shit for you to chew on, what if it's a coordinated effort to strip local control? What could the federal government gain from destroying the belief that local police have your best interest at heart?

Would you rather run TO this?
Imagine, if you will, an America that no longer had local police. An America where when you needed an enforcer of our system of laws and rules you'd call a representative of the federal government, to which they'd send someone out. What would that person look like? Would that person be a local? Would that person have a vested interest in the safety and well-being of his neighbors? I think not. I think that a federal police force would look very much like an army. In order for these 'officers' to follow orders blindly, without question, they would need to be taken from an area and relocated as far away from home as possible. With no vested interest in the local people, it really takes no thought to, bruttally if needed, enforce the law. Maybe even enforce a quickly crafted dictate to strip that locale of it's rights and liberties if those in power deem necessary.

Or would you rather run FROM this?

In a perfect society, we wouldn't have to worry about criminal activity, but we are a decidedly imperfect society. A society with a mix of all walks of life. In our country we have individuals from every nationality across the globe. All came to America for a better life, for the chance to grab at the gold ring, a chance afforded to all of us. We are a proud people, we are a free people, but all that could change in a generation. What can be perceived as a little thing, reliqueshing any of our liberties or local control quickly balloons into a federalists state, a country with a central government. A government that could easily be converted to a tyrannical dictatorship. Already we are seeing a President that cares not for the Constitution that he pledged to protect applying his 'Executive Orders' as he sees fit. Selectively enforcing laws and rules to help 'friends of the state'. Are you considered a friend of the state and how long will your usefulness take you?

How long before we no longer recognize our own country? How long before we are no longer the beacon of light for many whom struggle to get to our shores for a better future? All questions that, sadly, I'll wager I'll see answered in my time left on this big blue marble swinging through our universe.

That's my two cents, spend 'em or put 'em in the dish for the next person.