This morning while I was doing my daily morning four mile walk, I decided to listen to NewsTalk 1280 which is a local AM station out of Evansville, Indiana. I am not sure what talk show was on, but the topic was about the current national economic recovery that has begun to take place across the nation in mid to late 2012. As I was listening to the show, I could not help but apply this national talk show host to what I witness each day and what I hear others talk about within the tri-state area.
All it takes is a little bit of research and one can see that many of the major news outlets are running stories that we are now have crossed a milestone in our nation’s economic history. It has now been roughly 1,000 days where the national average for the price of a gallon of gas has remained above the $3.25 mark. Every American household and business has felt the impact of the high cost of fuel; it has literally impacted all aspects of the American economy. Since 2009, the inflation rate has roughly been 9% and while that is significantly lower than the 23.7% inflation between 2001 and 2006, the inflation rate alone does not address the problems faced by the local tri-state consumer. While the annual rate of inflation has remained near around the 1 to 1.38% annual percentage rate, the price of consumer goods has steadily increased to offset the increasing cost of energy for the manufacturing sector of our national economy.(1)
Mr. Obama’s war on coal and other fossil fuels has been negatively impacting the tri-state area. All three states, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana have massive coal deposits and coal mines employing thousands of workers whose very livelihood depend on the coal industry. These mines not only provide jobs to the residents of these states but also, through the income taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes paid by the miners, provide financial stability to the communities where they live. It is the money from coal, either directly or indirectly, that pays for many of the schools, roads, libraries, and other amenities that we have become accustomed to in modern America. The mining industry is, outside the local county school board, often the largest employer that many of these rural counties have. This new national energy policy has had a profound impact as mining in the tri-state has already begun to slow production, often laying off entire shifts of miners at a time. The restoration of our regional economy cannot occur unless the Obama administration reverses its current anti-fossil fuel strategy.
Within the local tri-state area where I live, there are lots of signs that indicate that not only is the economy not recovering but that its very structure is changing. This semester there is an increase in students in courses that I teach who are having some portion of their education paid for by the Kentucky Cabinet for Workforce Development. Their former employer has either ceased operations or is currently downsizing its workforce in anticipation of the first series of changes under the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. Those full time jobs with benefits are being replaced with lower paying 28 hour a week or less part time jobs. Those that do complete their college education are facing fierce competition for the few full time positions that remain. Not only do they face the younger traditional college graduate, but they will also be challenged by displaced experienced workers willing to undergo cuts in salaries and prestige to maintain full time employment.
Truth is that there has not been a national economic recovery. While there may be some areas of the nation that are experiencing growth, such as Texas and Indiana, they are the exception. Within both states, a pro-business attitude has been adopted that has not only encouraged the development of new start-up businesses but also the relocation of companies to those states. Both states have lowered corporate state taxes, given property tax breaks, and in the case of Texas, included other incentives such as infrastructure redesign to accommodate the needs of the companies relocating into the state. There are some lessons that can be applied in both cases to Illinois and Kentucky; however, both states remain firmly in the hands of the Democratic Party which has offered no real alternatives for the recovery of the economy of their states or the nation. Instead of bringing wealth into the state, the states seem bent on additional taxation of the businesses that remain to make up for the budget shortfalls.
- McMahon, Tim. (2013) “Current Inflation Rate.” Internet. Accessed on September 23, 2013. Available at: http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Rate/CurrentInflation.asp; Inflation Calculator. Internet. Accessed on September 23, 2013, Available at: http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/