Monday, July 17, 2006

Bob Riley - No Bu$hCo but "Right Track" Has Ruts

The "Right Track" might not be working for everybody Governor. Back in June you spent taxpayer money trotting around the state celebrating all you've done but Sunday's news ought to rachet back your glee. Tiffany Ray of the Birmingham Business Journal appears on MSNBC with "Alabama near top in bankruptcies". Here's the deal from the start of the article:

Despite the growth of the Alabama auto industry and other economic gains, the state is reporting bankruptcy rates in 2006 that rank among the highest in the nation.

And with high poverty levels, low job growth and weak consumer protection laws, experts say the state isn't likely to lose its place near the top of the bankruptcy list.

When I think of Bob Riley as Governor I can't help but think of Dubyah touting his accomplishments in Texas, where the Governor is not much more than a figurehead. The scholarship I've been exposed to has the Lone Star State way ahead on the weak Executive continuum. But Alabama's close!

There is no doubt the rich have gotten richer and the poor poorer under Bu$hCo. The trend holds in Alabama with the following statistics cited by Ms. Ray:

In Alabama, 16.9 percent of residents, or about 763,000 people, lived in poverty in 2004, according the U.S. Census Bureau. That's up from 13.3 percent, or 583,000, in 2000.
The tax cuts for poorer people might help but I'll argue the Democrats provided the leadership on that effort and your Republican Big Mules darn near derailed the effort.

Here's yet another thing to ponder from Ms. Ray's work:

In 2000, Alabama reported about 353,000 manufacturing jobs, he says. By 2004, that number had dropped to 286,000.

During that time, the state's population grew 1.9 percent, below the U.S. average of about 4 percent, a sign of low economic activity, Norris notes.

Let's not forget the rough spots in the road Governor. Many Alabama citizens are barely getting along with high fuel costs. Since your President came into office tuition costs have risen so much that it has become prohibitive for me to take classes. Health care costs are astronomical.

Fianlly, the magazine that keeps on handing you awards cites this as a positive for the South:

* the most preferred region for investment by foreign companies by a large margin? * the least unionized and most right-to-work region in the world's richest country?
Low wages and low taxes has always been the Southern recipe for economics. I hope folks know "right to work" is more accurately labeled as "hard to organize". This hasn't exactly worked out that well, and I'll offer that in the modern world it can't work out favorably, for our region. I'm not so sure this magazine is going to recognize factors that will truly transform Alabama. Lack of consumer protection leads to abuses where the trial lawyer community is often the group that seeks a remedy to mistreatment of regular folks but that's another issue.

In fact, consider how North Carolina got to where they are getting all this good press from this same magazine. My understanding is that they educated their citizens to where they were head and shoulders above other Southern states. With the exception of some factory farms and the like, much of North Carolina's growth is in research and technological areas.

Finally, this magazine looks about a decade or more behind. They seem rather supportive of "globalization" and I'm rather sure they approve of the corporate welfare approach (overpaying for jobs). Selling job sites and training programs and ... is growth on the back end. Education is doing it on the front end. It might not show up until decades down the road and it is hard to measure but it works.

You just got back from China. Do you really think Alabama can win in the low cost and limited regulation game? Peace ... or War!