posted by King Minos in Money / Career

Local Economy At Zenith?

February 19, 2013

In reading through Nick Coltrain's story about a Chamber of Commerce event that lauded former UGA President Michael Adams, I began to wonder about what comes next for the Athens' economy. In the article, some authorities cited talk of at least $200 million in new housing and retail projects, downtown, as something like a new day; they rightly noted the potential for the so-called "Big Box Apocalypse" out the ATL highway as the Bishop/Oconee outside mall comes to bear.

The actual story is linked, below:

I don't have a lot of time or energy for this topic, but that hasn't stopped me before, has it?!

I'd say the most important THING Athens needs, now, to help its growth, is a "limited access" highway connecting us to an interstate highway; that said, I respect the views of others who wish to ward off the homogenizing effect such a development may cause; Athens may become "Snellville!"

Perhaps it is simple superstition, or a bad lesson learned from watching previous "economic development efforts," but the King still swears we and the powers-that-be have little influence over the course of the local, state and even global economy! (For instance, absent the great housing bubble and associated tax revenues that could be spent on "higher education," would UGA have grown as much and gained so much in reputation?) This view, of course, undermines government efforts and subsidies aimed at improving the economy. Put more particularly, I'd say official efforts with regard to the local and national economies have coincided with deteriorating returns for several decades; the recently finished big-boom-and-bust housing spectacle actually masked the broad effects of the loss of so many manufacturing and production jobs across American; in NE GA, it was mostly textile jobs that went missing.

Education? Well, most of the folks who advocate more education spending are folks who actually work there; and would see greater economic rewards if local or state authorities threw more taxpayer dollars at education! In fact, often, when I tune in to the ABH sight, I see nothing but press-release-turned-into-news accounts from various education institutions decrying budget cuts and implying that higher spending there could save everyone, and even save the planet! Caterpillar, and other manufacturing concerns, are more likely to come to Athens for our lower tax and labor rates; rather than for our college or hs graduation rates; Unfortunately, education today has served itself up as a political football; it is set for years and years of decline as local, state, and federal mandates press more and more at the fraying link between a teacher and his or her students. Only crazy people, today, would want to be a teacher! (I am quite serious; and there are more and more certifiably "crazy" people at all levels of education; the higher the post, generally, the more insane the individual!)

SHOW me in GA, or Athens, data suggesting jobs are going unfilled due to a lack of qualified, educated individuals? Odds are you can't, and education proponents simply lied about the potential of higher training to improve the economy .... in order to preserve and protect their own public subsidies in light of the financial crisis and declining state revenues ....! Granted, there is a need for trained and educated individuals; there is no evidence, however, that the demand for certain workers exceeds the supply. IN FACT, "globalization" has meant many fewer middle-class "living wage" jobs in the U.S.! EVEN while some of our education leaders are safely ensconced in the magical 1 percent, they have the audacity to tell taxpayers to throw more at their racket which, in fact, has produced diminishing returns for many years!

But the King counts, himself, as an education supporter!

Bottom-line: Educational efforts in GA have long favored agricultural and management interests before hard sciences, engineering and the sort of "education," say, that would mean GA would actually engineer and manufacture the lawn mowers, refrigs, autos, HVACs, etc., and all the associated hardware our workers now install and repair!

The Problem: Our leaders, parents and citizens look down on blue collar workers and blue collar professions. (This actually may constitute something of our cultural heritage from Civil War days when the agrarian south was pitted against manufacturing and industrial interests in the north.) And this is why the vast majority of the political heroes claiming credit for the Caterpillar "touchdown" would not want their children or g kids working there! Instead, you guessed it, they want them to be doctors, lawyers, and politicians like themselves .... (THIS attitude, in a nutshell, is WHAT is really wrong with Athens; with Georgia; and the South, generally; and I see NO WAY to change these attitudes ....!)

Another note: Athens' and its backers have successfully ginned-up a good bit of positive "buzz" about our 115,000 population city over the previous months and years; there have been various accounts, published elsewhere, touting Athens greatness as a place to live ...! (Yes, but you better bring your own job; be retired or have a lot of savings because there are very few "living wage" jobs in Athens; and a lot of servile positions serving the big wigs like we saw in the paper today toasting Athens' greatness and their own, simultaneously).

The King has seen with his own eyes the impacts of some of the positive spin: I have seen folks speaking foreign languages at the new Kroger; and I have walked around the UGA campus and noted the students even look a little smarter; though, they are not better looking! No doubt, retirees, businesses, and whole masses of folks have responded to the "Come to Athens" signs plastered, effectively, across the nation and globe! IN some sense, this net migration probably benefits GA, as well; folks are tired of the cold weather, labor unions and high taxes in the NE U.S. and are thinking "sunbelt," and GA or even Athens, GA!

NOTE: The King is not going to write any more right now; they said "no comments" on the front page story and I wonder if they will nix this comment as well ....? If not, I will come back and jabber on a little more ...

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