I don’t always agree with Scott Lingamfelter, but I am happier to support him than most politicians. He at least frankly tell you where he stands. The politicians who hide their true aims pose the most danger.
Lingamfelter’s June 14th email suggests a good agenda for the General Assembly. If only we had elected Ken Cuccinelli, Mark Obenshain, and E. W. Jackson,…. What might have been! Nonetheless, we now have Republican majorities in both in House and the Senate. So what is stopping us from getting the discussion on the right track?
Do Work, Not Just Politics
Early morning is a good time to think. One thought that skips through this morning is this: What should we really be focused on in Virginia right now? Answer: jobs and the economy. We have just spent the last three months in a huge face off over expanding a massive federal spending program in Virginia. What we should be doing is talking about how we get the economy going.
Our revenues are dead flat in Virginia. Why? Because of the Obama Administration’s economic policies of higher taxes, more government regulation, and unwise choices (like dumping money into solar industries that go belly up in short order). These policies aren’t working. But I don’t want to turn this into an Obama-bashing point.
So what should we do in Virginia? Here are some ideas that I would be considering if I were at the helm that do not involve holding up the budget for political purposes.
- Take a comprehensive look at how we can literally screen out any impediment to doing business in Virginia. Put everything on the table. The government bureaucrat class protects a lot of turf here, but is everything that the government makes businesses do really necessary?
- Look at tax reform in a smart manner. Understand that confiscatory property-based taxes at the local level are a 19th Century convention. State taxes are a complex labyrinth of rates, administrative twists and turns, and special tax breaks that may do little to promote jobs. Make the tax code fairer, simpler, flatter and more in tune with a service and (hopefully an increasing) manufacturing economy. We are stuck here, mostly because it’s hard to reform anything people are comfortable with, even if the current way of doing business is not in their best interest. It’s called political and bureaucratic inertia.
- Take a full review of work-force training and transition and ask if we are really on the right path. In recent years we have highlighted the role of the community college system in this area and no question about it: when it comes to detailed topics, they are an important element in this. But I wonder if we shouldn’t get back to a more apprenticeship focus where government and the private sector share in the development and training of people who want to enter the trades, like: plumbing, electrical, masonry, carpentry, and what could be termed “light manufacturing”.
- Do we have the research and development piece right? Are we simply throwing money at this, as opposed to taking a comprehensive look at how you encourage basic research both at public universities and in the private sector where the focus is on applied research to commercialize ideas and anchor new businesses in Virginia, and actually set the conditions for job creation and business spin-off?
- Finally, I think we should actually spend more effort on attracting manufacturing to Virginia. While it would be great to land folks like the BMWs of the world, it is tough. However, we should keep our eye peeled for those smaller industries that are “coming back on shore” (some from Europe and Asia) to the US and do all we can to attract them here. “Light manufacturing” can have as an advantage a less demanding training regimen in some cases but still offer good wages. Plus, in many cases, such manufacturing can occupy converted commercial space to get going fast.
I know, for most folks this is just too “wonkish”. Politically, some would say “you’re wasting your time on topics like this because this is not what sells newspapers or gets people fired-up politically.” Well what if it’s time to actually do some work, Virginia, to actually focus on what needs to be done to get our economy going? Seems a far better use of our time than playing games with the budget and spending every ounce of political capital you might have on massive Federal programs that don’t create jobs, but kill them.
Time to get busy, in my opinion…but I’m not running the show
What is wrong with the people running the show? What words did Lingamfelter leave unspoken? Perhaps we should contact our state legislators and ask them about their agendas.
Don’t think it a serious subject? Consider the last commemoration of D-Day (June 6). Consider the news filled with various stories of The Great War. The Great War — that’s what they called WW I, and yet WW II was America’s Great War. Does America have the industry, skills and guts to do anything like Operation Overlord today?
Doesn’t the best path to peace lie in building up our strength and moral integrity? Yet what does our government do today? Doesn’t our government encourage dependence and too often build up the self-esteem of our children on a foundation of ignorance?