Are you like me, and wonder why the US and Ohio economic and employment numbers run counter to your personal and business experiences? Media can’t exactly convey the local economy. The newspapers have reported growth signs – the Economic Development Authority said that Greenfield is no longer considered a “depressed area”, with a 7.7% jobless rate, Ohio no longer qualifies for emergency unemployment benefits. Rep. Rosenberger said “The jobless rate is declining. The model is working”… “we’re at number five in the nation in job creation.” Nationally, the stock market is soaring; Wall Street financiers are happy. Interest rates are low. Good.
Yet, there is no denying that our area is in an economic crisis. Highland County has had the highest or second-highest unemployment rate in Ohio. Greenfield lost its status as a city in the 2010 census. Rosenberger asked state officials to come to see firsthand what is happening from the DHL fallout and other economic challenges. GovK plans to eliminate an $8 billion state budget deficit, slashing funding for local governments by 25% starting July 1, and 50% the following year. Factoring in the loss of federal money, overall funding for education will drop 11.5% in the coming fiscal year. Bad.
Times Gazette reporting also has magnified Highland County dependence on a strategy of pleading with Ohio and federal authorities to continue subsidies as the solution to every problem – Highland County Sheriff to apply for a U.S. Department of Justice COPS grant to cover up to 75 percent of salaries for deputies, Ohio Department of Development commitment to fund $497,000 in repairs to a Greenfield railroad bridge and the Economic Development Authority to make millions of dollars in repairs to the Greenfield rail line, the plan by Hillsboro City Schools to offer free breakfast to every student grades K-12. Ohio lawmakers have tried to get a $2 billion federal loan guarantee to commercialize the controversial American Centrifuge Project – President Obama just included in his budget $150 million to kick-start technological developments at the plant.Our legislators imagine a return to the American local government dream, economic recovery and the return of prosperity, but built upon borrowed money. Don’t they believe our local economy can do the job? Is this capitalism with a jump-start or is any jump-start socialism?
Relatedly, what is the individual American dream these days? The government providing an opt-out for people who don’t work? According to the U.S. Census, 49% of Americans live in a home that receives direct monetary benefits from the federal government. To the question: “If local students aren’t attending trade school, and they aren’t going to college, what are they doing? The answer from Greenfield schools superintendent was “Public assistance.” For more proof, ask the local unemployed, “I am searching for all the free stuff such as health care and food and assistance for living expenses”. A senseless dream that’s removing them both from reality.
These new entitlement dreams breed corruption. More and more people want to sell things – because they need money. Some illegally trade food stamps in exchange for cash to buy cigarettes, alcohol and gas with other people in the neighborhood. Drug users also trade their cards for illicit substances or money to support their habits. It creates new unseen criminals. Dayton police Lt. Brian Johns, said police officers do not receive many complaints of food stamp crimes because there are rarely witnessed. “Either the person that has the card is getting monetary return for the card, or the store is making a profit on it.”
As we grow more dependent, are we alert to the damage being done daily to our future and to the serious shift in power and influence away from our control? For example, a Chinese investment group is buying up a very large chunk of city real estate in Toledo, Ohio including a decommissioned Toledo Edison power plant. Selling stakes in domestic [including Ohio] oil and gas drilling projects to foreign companies has been met with little government opposition. Now the Chinese are starting to colonize us? Would we have ever allowed the Soviets to come in and buy up Ohio companies and buy up huge tracts of land?
Now, consider a few of the embarrassing things that America leads the world in: obesity, crime, divorce, teen pregnancy, credit card fraud, illegal drug use, child abuse deaths and government debt. The statistics are incredibly disturbing. Are they connected to the entitlement dream?
As reality intrudes, clinging to broken models of the past is not the way forward. Acknowledge that rural post offices generally run at a deficit, that we now live in cities and towns with dark, empty storefronts that stare blankly at the street, a stark contrast to our town’s bustle in better and busier times and that some people need help. Passively hoping that federal and state concentrations of wealth will return to pre-eminence is a losing strategy. What makes sense is localism and community.
Most people who write these kinds of articles about the decline of America hate this country. I love my country and I want the local stains removed. But, more about that in another article.