A Bleak Economy and a Lack of Solutions
Making a prediction that employment trends won’t turn around in Rhode Island until the end of 2011 or 2012, John Kostrzewa included a couple of points in his column, yesterday, that merit further thought:
While [Northeastern University labor economist Paul] Harrington argued that Rhode Island’s education system helped get the state in trouble, it can also be the path to recovery.
That will require developing an educational system that prepares students for the workplace by teaching the skills needed to land a job. A skilled work force will attract employers, who are always looking for pools of qualified people to design and build their products or deliver their services.
The difficulty is that you can’t keep workers without having jobs for them to fill. Especially with Kostrzewa and my shared expectation that Rhode Island will trail the country in recovery, the likelihood would seem to be that skilled workers will exit the state in search of jobs. If the state takes the attitude that it will build the workforce and jobs will come, it will likely find itself investing in education that ultimately benefits other states’ economies, actually delaying our own.
This ties in with another point at which Kostrzewa and I diverge:
The real hard work is going to be focusing the state’s leaders, their efforts and resources on figuring out the type of jobs that could come to Rhode Island and then crafting the courses and training sessions that match the workers with the jobs.
It’s a huge undertaking.
But it’s an absolute must if Rhode Islanders are going to have a future that is better than their recent past.
Put flatly, I don’t trust our state’s leaders to find a future direction for Rhode Island’s economy. If that were their competency, they’d be leaders of industry, not of a lagging political entity. They won’t find the proper balance between citizen expectations, special interests, and economic health. Instead, they’ll spin special interests’ desires in such a way as to pervert citizen expectations with a false promise of an improved economy.
What we need — all we need — is for the state government to withdraw from the economy over which it presides. We need lower taxes, less regulation, fewer mandates, and a focus on improved infrastructure. Clean off the runway, and the businesses that are a good match for Rhode Island will land here — having done the homework that survival necessitates.
See, businesses need a rolling economy to survive. Politicians just need votes, and with our corrupted philosophy of government, votes are solidified in several instances when the population is uncomfortable, even panicked.