posted by King Minos in In The News

Deal's: "State of the State, 2013!"

January 18, 2013

You can read the full text here:

I wanted to give some reaction to some of the governor's comments ....

I will not lead our state with a Doomsday mindset, reacting erratically and hastily based on fear or ignorance.

Just as Georgia is too big and too important to fall prey to Doomsayers’ pessimism, it is also too big and too important to be divided by race, geography or ideology. This year, let’s concentrate on the things on which we can all agree: The foundations that improve the lives of our citizens and undergird the bright horizons of tomorrow.

Gee? I wonder who the "doomsayers" are? Perhaps these are people who warned about various negative consequences that may occur in the state if political leaders do not "do something?"

Of course, one should credit Deal with a pensive, cautious approach; we hope this is in the state's best interests; and not simply premature "electioneering" designed to keep his supporters happy so he can win re-election.

Since employment is a primary goal of education, I want to commend the Chancellor of our University System and the Commissioner of our Technical College System for evaluating and refocusing their programs of study to give priority to those educational paths that have a proven record of employability.

Ok, ok, ok! We hear you, governor! You've taken a shot across the bow of the University System of Georgia and demanded higher education do MORE to promote employment in GA!

But some might say the education bureaucrats running the higher education system are EXPERTS at telling powerful people, like you, exactly what you wish to hear!

You are wrong, however, to view higher education in GA as a jobs program; it is not. Consider the fact that spending in the system has greatly increased over the past three decades; perhaps you know that tuition grew much faster than inflation and, yes, that many graduates today end up with huge debts and NO jobs ...

My point is this: Even with ALL that spending, the GA economy could not dodge the financial crisis bullet! In fact, spending on higher education is mostly a luxury -- nice thing to have -- that has only an indirect impact on employment in the state!

In truth, in education, today, we have some self-interested false prophets looking leaders like you in the eye and promising the world, even as they figure out ways to enrich themselves at the public's expense!

A studied analysis of higher education in GA (and K12 education) would demonstrate clearly that productivity and effectiveness have FALLEN over the years as spending went through the roof!

How can that be possible? It's possible because the Regents and many K12 education professionals have no clue what they are doing or otherwise pursue self-serving, personal agendas!

(It also a simple matter of mathmatics; the output from the system has remained constant, as capital inputs spiked!)

Sure, it's nice to imagine Hank Huckaby is doing a good job, and helping graduates get jobs in GA!

But on the job front, let's take a moment to look at the big picture:

In Georgia and across the U.S. many jobs in manufacturing and production have been "outsourced." In NE GA, in particular, we have lost many if not most of our jobs in textiles;

Into this pattern of job losses we need to factor the great credit expansion and the associated boom in housing. As the bubble there expanded, many workers who lost jobs in manufacturing were able to transition into new jobs in things like property sales, construction and other associated employment;

But whence the credit bubble collapsed, many of these jobs disappeared; this left GA, then, suffering from the huge loss in the previously held manufacturing jobs;

When you say "education" is the foundation for a new or better economy, I think you are mistaken.

In general, our education system grows more robust as the overall economy gets better; then proceeds from real economic growth can be directed into educational activities;

In fact, the great growth we have seen in local K12 budgets and in higher education spending are mostly tied to the growth of tax digests associated with the housing boom!

It is probably not the case, however, that money could be front-loaded into education with the expectation this investment would surely create many living wage jobs; in reality, employment in education remains linked to the number of folks actually working in state, local or private educational institutions;

Again, most jobs losses in GA were not linked to education spending. This is a very important point to understand because when we speak of building the GA economy by increased investment in education, clearly, there is but an indirect almost impotent effect on the number of jobs available.

Why do so many education bureaucrats claim an outsized employment benefit associated with education spending? Some of them actually believe the positive impact of their work does more that it really does; mostly, however, these are public workers looking to keep or increase the state subsidies directed towards their employers. In effect, their claims are simple propaganda designed to protect their own jobs.

Creating more good jobs in GA is going to mean investigating and understanding why so many of "our" jobs have been outsourced; at the outset investigators will be told "those jobs are gone and will not return" and even, "we are better off without those sorts of jobs."

Both assertions are clearly false.

Generally, the reasons so many jobs have been lost include the following in some sort of combination:

1. Currency manipulation by domestic policy-makers* and foreign competitors made U.S. manufacturing and production non-competitive;

2. Global financial liberalization fostered the U.S. credit and housing bubble (that tended to mask the jobs losses) and helped foreign manufacturers to build production facilities in areas where workers would accept much lower wages;

3. Liberalization and/or non-enforcment of immigration rules meant cheap labor flowed into jobs from foreign sources; this increase in labor meant U.S. citizens saw signfificantly lower wages in the U.S. jobs that still existed (EG, poultry, construction, carpet).

I do applaud your compact target for maintenance in the state budget; doing less, legislatively, is "more."


Some other, more general comments ...

With regard to the Savannah harbor project ... Please! Show me the data regarding the taxpayer return on this investment!

Currently, there are several thousand jobs available for individuals with a commercial driver’s license.

Well ... that certainly SOUNDS good, Gov. Again, let's see the numbers and vet them!

Two years ago, we worked together to save our HOPE Scholarship program. As a result, it remains one of the most generous state run scholarship programs in the nation. It is also keeping our best and brightest students in Georgia. In FY2011, more than 97 percent of entering in-state freshman at both the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech received the Hope Scholarship.

By some measures, the HOPE scholarship program in GA has helped make the higher education system LESS effective and productive; it is doubtful it has kept more than a handful of our top high school graduates in the state's system of higher education (they could get federal aid, or scholarships at the best colleges and universities in the nation; HOPE simply means they have more money to spend while in college.)

First, it has led to grade inflation in both high schools and college; enterprising colleges, as well, have raised their tuition way up to get more of the HOPE money!

In Athens, the reality is that students on HOPE are MUCH wealthier than previous generations of students; they can make it with the plush benefit and use monies that would have gone toward tuition to get expensive apartments and new SUVs. Zell Miller was well intentioned but it is unclear if the net effect of HOPE is positive or negative;

Moreover, with regards to HOPE, it has also taught our kids -- from the very youngest (pre-K) to the oldest (college-age) -- that a lot of "good" in life can come from the proceeds generated in some sort of vice activity. This obviously "mixed message" is unnecessary; all the good things HOPE does could be done by using other sources of money;

The King's Foundation

1. Enhanced protection of property rights, eg, ending the storm-water fee applied to homes and property; end the state income tax;

2. As you say, effective public safety; more effective efforts that cost less.

3. In the same vein, effective courts for resolving disputes encountered in business and trade;

4. Adequate local and state-wide infrastructure: A program on the local AND state-wide level addressing basic infrastructure. Good idea to focus on the GA port! What about MORE limited access highways to certain regions?

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