The decisions between now and December?
Off across the pond with Bob Riley and the industry crowd I guess Steve Dean needed to report back in a manner that demonstrates at least some his conservative bona fides but I'm wondering if maybe I can convince him of some of what I'll offer in this post.
Vanessa Sorrell Burnside reports in this past week's Leader "Dean: Korean trip laid groundwork for industry recruitment" with good news and insight plentiful. I'm sure Korean culture is interesting yet their respect for tradition/history and value of education is noted. I'd long known about "cram schools" in South Korea for high school students on the university track, hardly a positive method of learning I'd add, but there is no dispute the entire nation values education. This portion of the reporting was revealing:
The group met grammar school children who spoke fluent English, a required class in South Korean elementary schools. By the time they graduate, the students know English, plus a third languageWith Steve as the source and "the group" being the forty eight member Alabama delegation, Vanessa reports the following:
"Be as aggressive as you can and build relationships," said Riley to the group. "The decisions made between now and December will affect the next generation."Now I'll admittedly take this quote beyond what Governor Riley meant but it makes for a good post title and also I think indicates much about what ails Alabama and our region. What will matter for this next generation is not about landing tier supplier plants! Should they build relationships? Certainly, although if they do so aggressively that could be an issue, they should invite people to consider our area. Why would they want to be locating around here? Could it because our folks are hard workers that are sharp and dependable and ... ?
Nope! It's because we'll buy them off with tax abatements. If they didn't know we'd do this then it's not because they weren't listening. Here's the quote:
The businessmen heard a seminar on what we have to offer in terms of transportation through Alabama. Tax abatements were also explained. The Sonata and Santa Fe will be built in Alabama in the future. Thirty suppliers were invited, but 15 to 20 more also showed up.
So we explain to the South Korean businessmen that our nation takes money from government functions like education to make sure our people have jobs. I'd posted off of Matt Singer's "Overpaying for Jobs" work previously so I'll not repeat his arguments. Corporate welfare good and poor people welfare bad? Tracking claims of benefits to the public from the corporate version seems easy enough and it shows there is much promised and little delivered.
Seriously, if we want to make a difference for Alabama's next generations, and the one or two before perhaps to boot, then we'll try the South Korean reverance for education. Learning is the key. Begging for and buying industrial jobs is secondary or even lower. Should we beg and buy? Maybe. But the focus should always be on building up our citizens. Three languages? Some of ours are lucky to get one! I recall being told that Alabama was spending many thousands on getting industrial workers that had been through our schoolsready for their bought jobs. It seems like we'd be better off building the future population in the first place. Then we'll perhaps not have to sacrifice our future for this generation of laborers?
A tip of the tam to Roanoke Telephone Company (Big Mule Power is in my doghouse right now so "No salute for you!") for helping pay his way. Peace ... or War!