Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flat Earth Mode

Every year, business network CNBC releases a report called “America’s Top States for Business.” CNBC examines a number of factors (cost of doing business, quality of life, cost of living, etc) and ranks states accordingly. The results of these studies over time (I went back as far as 2006) offer some insight into what NH is doing right, as well as deficiencies that the state continues to ignore.

Texas was rated number one, despite their quality of life being rated as 35th in the nation. They ranked #1 in infrastructure and #2 in technology and innovation, which was enough to offset the rather dismal quality of life. The overall Texas economy was rated 5th in the nation.

NH’s overall rating is 19th in the nation. NH’s quality of life is rated first in the nation. NH ranks 46th in transportation and infrastructure, which is fairly consistent over the years. The rankings for technology and infrastructure put NH in 26th place. More startling was the category of workforce, where NH ranked #44. The workforce rating is based on the education level of the workforce, availability of worker training programs, and union membership. Before those right knees start jerking, it’s important to point out that fewer than 10% of NH workers belong to a labor union. In 2011, NH ranked 40th in workforce, but in 2009 we were in 30th place.

NH ranked 35th in the cost of doing business. That’s a fairly consistent number over the years. CNBC looks at income, property and business taxes, utility costs and the cost of rental space. As we know, NH has some of the highest property taxes and utility costs in the nation. NH ranked 40th in cost of living. That’s been the same since 2006. The numbers are based on housing, food, and energy costs.

There were two surprising categories. We’ve heard a great deal of wailing from the Freebaglicans about how regulations are strangling development in our state. That turns out not to be true. NH ranks SECOND in the nation for being business friendly. Since 2006, we’ve ranked in the single digits in that category. CNBC looks at legal and regulatory frameworks. NH has never ranked lower than in 6th place in this category. The other surprise was the rating of NH’s economy, which came in 34th place. After truly dismal numbers (40th) in 2008, during the big economic collapse, NH rebounded quickly, to #14 in 2009, #12 in 2010, and NH was ranked 10th in the nation in 2011. Falling to 34th place in a year is truly remarkable, especially given that laser like focus on jobs and the economy that was promised us by the GOP majority.

In 2011, the US Chamber of Commerce (not exactly a bunch of raving pinkos) released a report called “Enterprising States; Recovery and Renewal for the 21st Century.” The report found that states investing in infrastructure, as well as education and training for the workforce were the states most successful at bringing in good paying jobs.

This is the exact opposite of what NH has done.

Recent letters from Representatives McCarthy and Tregenza boasted of the many revenue streams and spending cuts the majority made over the last two years. That’s all either of them had to be proud of - cutting state revenue streams. As the US Chamber report points out, “A state, however, can neither cut or tax itself into prosperity.”

NH is trying to cut itself into prosperity. The state funding to our state university systems was cut in half by the Freebaglican majority. The DOT budget was cut so much that we’re no longer lighting up our bridges. Folks will remember that Rep. Gene Chandler had to do some fancy pageant walking after the budget he shilled for resulted in cutbacks to DOT spending on snow plowing. It is now estimated that NH’s 10 year transportation plan will take 30 years to complete, based on current spending.

The US Chamber report cited Vermont and Maine as being the top two states currently investing in telecommunications infrastructure. NH is the 19th century filling in that northern New England sandwich of progress.

NH already ranks in last place for state spending on our state university system. We can continue to strive to be last in infrastructure, too. Of course, it’s entirely possible that we’ll choose to elect a legislature that isn’t stuck in flat earth mode next time around.

From the US Chamber report: “The evidence regarding job creation among the states shows that fiscal probity is an essential ingredient, but states can deal with the fundamental problems they face only by spurring growth and upward mobility.”

Be sure to ask incumbents how they expect to move NH into the future by doing the exact opposite of what is working for other states. Be sure to ask all candidates how they intend to help bring NH into the 21st century.

“In our seeking for economic and political progress, we all go up - or else we all go down.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt

CNBC Report
US Chamber of Commerce Report

This was published as an op-ed in the July 20 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.
© sbruce 2012


Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago at an informational lecture that had nothing whatsoever to do with politics, an idiot follower of Tregenza was handing out pathetic little magnets with the word Liberty on it. So ironic when one with half a brain would realize that there is no liberty without education, good health and good transportation and telecommunication. But many politicians who are chained to Wall Street don't need educated individuals to be slaves in minimum or close to min. wage jobs. Our area is a classic example. Slaves to the tourism industry, jobs here consist of ferrying canoes and people, cleaning hotel rooms, and serving cholestrol clogging food. And thanks to the smoke and mirror lies of the Christian right, no discussion will ever take place on the problems we face due only to one problem which is the huge size of our human population and continued growth of it. There can never ever be enough good jobs, housing or any other life quality with too many people vying for the exact same resources.

Charles Bromley said...

Some politicians have so much BS coming out of their mouths that sometimes, one can't do anything but just raise an eyebrow. It just shows how politics is a business and you can get away with it by just spewing nonsense and confusing the people. I always believe that what we need are statesmen, not politicians.

Take care of yourself and your future. Even if financial independence is a right, only an educated few would be able to pull it off.

Chip Noon said...

We still hear, faintly, "Let's run our government like a business." It's a fading mantra since so many businesses are having trouble, but it's still part of the armamentarium of a certain sect of the political population. In a well-run business, the CEO and the CFO know that the only way to prosperity is to increase revenue, not to reduce costs. So if we run government like a business, we'll try to increase revenue...not by raising taxes willy-nilly since that is counter-productive, but by helping the citizens and businesses within the state to increase their revenue by expansion and new markets. That way, there are more fees, business profits taxes, and other costs of doing business that we all accept and agree on. Some of that money comes back to the state eventually.

The current climate of budget cuts is at best counterproductive and at worst harmful to the citizens of NH. I'm sorry more people are not able to think this through to its logical conclusion. Even the statistics cited in your column will make no inroads into this myopia. They'll just say, "Don't confuse me with the facts!"

Julia Riber Pitt said...

Stuff like this shows the contradictions of the libertarian mentality. Business is usually attracted to places where the government spends, spends, spends for a number of reasons, namely on things like infrastructure and schools (since businesses usually desire a schooled workforce). This is why businesses will usually flock to large urban areas rather than rural/small town areas that have a much more free market atmosphere.

It's worthy to note that Somalia (probably the best real-life example of anything closely resembling "anarcho-capitalism") is getting a brand new central government later this year, all due to the efforts of Somalia's capitalist class. For nearly ten years, Somali business associations begged the rest of the world to help them re-establish a state in Somalia. They were sick and tired of having to pay for roads and police out-of-pocket for one thing, but the other reason had to do with making Somalia attractive to potential investors, as no businessperson would invest in a world of uncertainty (if they were smart, of course). This is why I laugh at free staters who try to convince others that their far-right libertarian system would ultimately be good for business; it would be a downright terrible environment for 90% of businesses who rely on the state for multiple things.

susanthe said...

You're absolutely right, Julia. There's a right winger who writes op-eds for the same paper that I do, who recently stated on his website that he'd be in favor of privatized roads, because "they'd be done better." Imagine a network of individually maintained toll roads?
That would be a real hit in a state where tourism is the #2 industry.