Monday, April 18, 2016

Whose Economic Plan?

With the closure of the Buena Vista Biomass Plant coinciding with the supervisorial election, economic development is now a hotter topic than usual. Some in our community have gone as far as to blame the protracted General Plan approval process and implicating some our County Supervisors for the delay. At a recent candidate’s forum reported in the 4/15/16 Ledger Dispatch, Amber Rose Hoiska stated: “…there is no analysis of job creation…We need jobs… (and to attract) the right kind of businesses…” Frank Axe stated: “The current supervisors have a very narrow view of what is beneficial to the county…The big concern is for jobs…there is no long-term economic development plan…there is a…lack of planning.”

Either the article’s author, Marilyn Nutter, failed to mention or the candidates did not discuss the importance of keeping our freight railroad for which the Newman Ridge project or some other is essential. And while both candidates noted the need for more employment, they both had the attitude that economic development is like choosing between chocolate or vanilla ice cream. But Amador County already has timber, gold and other mineral resources. We have been blessed by a power higher than the economic development experts. Starting with what you have, rather than what you don’t have, contains common sense that this discussion seemed to lack. Try to explain to a starving Bangladeshi that we ignore our available resources and then decide to spend limited tax money (Frank Axe noted government grants) on economic development studies.

We all depend upon resources and products from elsewhere. And despite the sophistication of our economy we still basically trade for those goods with what we produce. But Amador isn’t producing, and that’s reflected in the anticipated one million dollar county budget shortfall. What if Texas turned its oil fields and refineries into bird sanctuaries, or Minnesota turned its iron ore mines into conservation easements? There’s an unwritten social contract here that shouldn’t be ignored.

As in all human endeavors, trend and fashion rule. I know of people in damp London, England who installed ceramic tile floors because that’s what the beautiful people in Los Angeles were doing. And I know of people in Los Angeles with new lathe and plaster walls because that has more prestige than drywall that doesn’t crack with every earthquake. So I ask: What does the term natural living really mean beside its politically expeditious usage?

Copyright 2016, Mark L. Bennett

1 comment:

  1. This candidly is some of the most pie in the sky pseudo economic analysis I've seen in a long while. Whle I agree the supervisors exhibit no vision on how to add jobs. There is little/no analysis of work being done in nearby counties; what work can be done as work and home or remotely; or what we can do to stimulate existing businesses; and there certainly is no concept of an incubator to encourage small business development, the writer seems to think that "gold", "timber" and other "mineral resources" are easily developed with minimal capital and without dealing with those dragons and the EPA, and other environmental agencies.

    Waxing eloquent about developing our natural resources would seem to imagine we can go back to the good old days of the forty niners, and just mine our way out of our difficulties. We do have other resources: People, land to farm, and some amount of developed infrastructure. We also have a 50 miles proximity to California's capital. A correct focus on how to create jobs, and actually having a plan would be a lot more useful that pandering to Los Angelinos who can afford to install lathe and plaster walls, and talking about living naturally...!