County must adapt to new ways
Sunday, August 10, 2014 10:00 PM
It's an objective fact. Communities create jobs in whole new ways compared to just a few years ago. It's important that we in Montgomery County adapt to that reality or we risk becoming a place where nobody wants to be.
I'm concerned that "economic development" may become a political football during the upcoming debates. True, the vast majority of leaders believe that local government has an obligation to improve the financial lives of our residents. However, there's also a vocal point of view arguing that government's Constitutional duty is to "stay out of the way" of progress--that it'll just take care of itself.
I think common sense suggests that if job creation was that easy we'd have long ago been more successful at it. But, my opinion really doesn't matter. The answer ultimately lies in the question, which political argument gives you the greatest hope for your children and your grandchildren's future? It's that big a deal.
An economic development debate is important for the greater good. It's vital that my logic and political beliefs are tested. Yours too. It's my opinion that if we're good at local economic development, the impact will be much like giving everyone in our community a pay raise. I struggle to understand why anyone would be opposed to that potential, but I have a theory.
Like it or not, most local political opinions are actually framed by the evening news. We watch the endless nonsense that passes in Washington for political leadership and just shake our collective heads. The risks and uncertainty frighten us all. But, we're not Washington.
The big tents are pitched. Obama's minions favor their socialistic cocoon of wealth re-distribution; the tea partiers are camped at the opposite end of the spectrum. And, most of us occupying that Midwestern right-of-middle favor fiscal conservatism while believing that, as the world evolves, government too must adapt to remain relative.
Here at home, most political controversies are contrived tempests sprung from bad communication and overly simplistic dogma. In disgust for liberal politics there's evidence that some may be venting their Washington frustrations using local politics as a whipping boy in a perverse "most-conservative" contest.
Meanwhile, the socialist-leaning camp continues to hammer that more and more must be paid for by fewer and fewer. Countering, we more middle-of-the-roaders and those on the far right actually share much common ground agreeing that government is not the answer to all things and that, as with our households, we should never spend more than we make.
As conservatives, most seemingly agree that prosperity is a good thing. What we can't seem to shake on are tactics. That makes both camps politically vulnerable to the growing left. We can't win without each other, but our division is fundamentally optimist vs. pessimist. One camp views our prosperity and says: "if it's broke, we (including government) can fix it". The other claims that artificially nurturing local competitiveness puts the democracy at peril.
Local job creation strategy clearly illustrates this tactical divide. Optimists correctly point out that governments worldwide are deeply invested in the economic development game. Pessimists: government can't do anything right and therefore shouldn't spend a taxpayer's thin dime attempting to win a game that, admittedly, we've been clumsy at in the past.
This election you'll probably be asked which point of view gives you the best odds for a pay raise. Think positive.
Tom Utley is a Montgomery County councilman. His columns are published from time to time in The Paper.