Daily Archives: August 9, 2009

The Rust Belt Deathfest by Gregory Hilton

‘Fastest Dying Cities’ Meet for a Lively Talk by Douglas Belkin, Wall Street Journal

Last year, Forbes.com used long-term trends of unemployment, population loss and economic output to devise a list of “America’s Fastest Dying Cities.” The cities include Cleveland, Dayton, Canton and Youngstown, Ohio; Detroit and Flint, MI; Buffalo, Scranton, Springfield, MA and Charleston, WV. They all realize manufacturing is not going to come back to save them.
These cities have natural resources, hardworking people, underutilized infrastructure, and land for expansion, but you can see the decline everywhere and the housing markets and crime are awful. What they also have in common is rejecting the obvious path to a turnaround. All of them are over-taxed and over-regulated with a one party political system which has led to heavy patronage and incompetence in local government. They all have several common denominators. Among them bad local political choices, lack of regional cooperation, and no vision to diversify 20-30 years ago. They are also controlled by unions which promoted policies destroying manufacturing jobs. Decades of anti-business policies have resulted in a migration of good jobs.
The companies that stayed in these cities saw their market share evaporate, as their ability to fend off foreign or non-union competitors waned. Union workforces became increasingly less productive as measured against hourly throughput. Now the laws of economics are holding true. Union leaders horribly failed their membership by not emphasizing productivity.
The leaders of these dying cities are meeting now but their problems have been around for a long time. For example, Detroit never recovered from its 1967 riots. I hope they will look at themselves to come up with an answer but I am skeptical.
This letter was published in Forbes: “I’ve lived in Flint, MI my entire life and I just recently began working at a GM factory. With the exception of a few people my co-workers are the laziest and most negative people I’ve ever seen. From what I’ve heard from the GM workers all my life and what I’ve recently seen first hand, the workers themselves have played NO SMALL PART in what’s happened to the automotive industry here.”
These observations were supported in a letter I received from Norina Mooney of California’s Silicon Valley; “As a member of the SEIU labor union I agree with you. Most union workers are lazy. They are complacent in their jobs but they know they will never be fired. I work for a government agency and I am the exception to the rule. Most workers do not go out of their way to do anything. I makes me so irritated but I guess I was placed there for a reason.”

Pentagon Does Not Want New Congressional Jets by Gregory Hilton

I support our troops and President Obama’s threatened veto of $2.8 billion in pork barrel spending. A spokesman for Defense Secretary Gates says the unnecessary spending Congress is requesting: “Just forces us to take money from things we do need to fund and redirect it for things we don’t need, and in a time of war, we just can’t afford that.” The Congress also wants to spend $550 million to buy eight business-class passenger jets to ferry senior government officials.
President Obama has proposed a zero growth defense budget through 2014. We are also experiencing a procurement holiday and worn out equipment is not being replaced. Obama is not requesting new presidential helicopters but now the House is setting aside $485 million toward reviving this terminated program.
The House included more than 1,000 additional spending provisions totaling more than $2.8 billion. We are experiencing significant setbacks and casualties in Afghanistan, and do we really want to take funds away from our troops to be spent on luxury travel for lawmakers?
Our nation paid a high price when Congress decimated our covert operations budget in the past. The Pentagon will also have to suffer because of stimulus spending. According to the survey data few people are concerned about defense spending right now, and the outcry after 9/11 has faded. Obama is not going to veto the defense bill and the final product will be determined in the Senate, but we should support the President when he makes an attempt to restore funding for the troops. To meet budget requirements last week, Defense Secretary Gates ordered $54 billion more be cut from the Pentagon’s five-year defense budget plan.