Can someone please get a street sweeper, Zamboni or a dozen guys with brooms and please clean up the east bound lane of I-80, exit 227 in Girard? The shoulders are covered in litter, mainly tiny pieces of metal. Maybe it's falling from the trucks I see exiting there hauling scrap metal. Are they going to the car shredder under the bridge or taking 422 to the metal recycling yards in Youngstown?
Either way, it looks terrible and does nothing to help Girard's appearance.
CNN has a nice piece here on tech jobs moving to Kansas. They call it the "Silicon Prairie". Coders and others involved in IT development who grew up in Kansas and headed to the west and east coasts for employment in their twenties are returning later in life to raise families and enjoy a better standard of living.
Youngstown has the Business Incubator which enjoys the support of the community and state. By all accounts the YBI has been successful in assisting the creation of companies focused on business to business applications. Perhaps we need to see if we can emulate Kansas and lure expatriate entrepreneurs back to the Mahoning Valley. We can offer a cheap cost of living, entrepreneurial opportunities that would service start up companies and government incentives.
Long distance collaboration between developers and business is more viable than ever due to technology like on-line meetings, email and conference calls. I've personally been involved in the development of multiple business applications using these methods. It's not as easy as having your developer in the next office but it's not that great an inconvenience either.
Perhaps Youngstown, Warren and the surrounding communities can target area expatriates for return who got educated and ran for the bright lights of larger cities by offering high end housing incentives, income tax breaks and incentives to hire graduates of YSU and local trade schools.
These kinds of collaborative efforts will be necessary to attract high end talent from afar to begin start-ups in the Mahoning Valley. The kind of experience these people can bring to the area will augment our already successful efforts.
I hear people complaining about the stimulus, how it hasn't put people back to work. Of course, A lot of that criticism comes from people who are being interviewed on Fox News, pandering AM talk radio hosts and politicians like John Boehner who want to pretend that they don't have a say in how money is spent by Congress.
I don't know about you but I can't drive down an interstate without seeing orange cones and slowing down for single lane traffic. Thousands of miles of interstate are being ground and resurfaced because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Teachers are working, police officers are on their beats and in our area GM put 1200 people back to work on the third shift.
It is true that the unemployment rate remains high but is that the government's fault? Isn't the private sector supposed to drive the economy? The stimulus bill included tax breaks that should help business and TARP rescued banks that should be loaning money to business for expansion. If that isn't happening critics should ask them why they aren't returning the taxpayer's favor.
Critics can't have it both ways. You can't complain that the stimulus didn't put people to work and then complain that government shouldn't create jobs. Only the government had the funds necessary to arrest the death spiral the economy was in after financial speculators tried to put us all out of work.
We were damn near in a depression. It may take more than 18 months to get back to positive economic growth. Boehner and other critics are using this slow recovery to score cheap political points ahead of the mid-term elections. Voters should be sure they understand all the facts before they make up their minds this November.
I read Bertram de Souza's column in the Vindicator today and saw that he had eschewed his usual targeting of Jim Traficant and fallen back on his second favorite subject, public employees at the trough. This was surprising given reports earlier in the week that Jimbo's inept campaign may have failed to gather enough valid signatures to get on the ballot in the Ohio 17th Congressional district.
Bertram's Sunday screed revolves around public employees being paid for accumulated vacation and sick time when they retire. His example is that Dr. Sweet was paid $100,596 for 50 sick days and 33 vacation days when he left YSU. His conclusion is that public employees should not be able to accumulate such time and that days earned should be forfeit if not used. As usual he attributes this practice to "greed on the part of public employees". It's interesting that his example was the largest payout he could find. You don't see many police officers or fire fighters retiring with six figure payouts.
I have been the beneficiary of this practice. In the interest of full disclosure, my wife is a public employee who works in a hazardous environment every day while I work for a successful local private sector company. When our sons were born my wife was able to use accumulated sick time to care for them. It made things less stressful for us and helped us financially. In order to do this she made great sacrifices for years before the boys were born. We took short vacations and she went into work when she was sick instead of staying home. Doing this didn't cost the county an extra dime. They didn't have to pay her for the sick time during the years it was accumulated.
Bertram's main thrust seems to be that state and local governments can't afford these types of benefits so they should be ended. My concern is that such an attitude assumes the state cannot do anything to alleviate the cost of these benefits. It's not the public employees fault that tax revenues are down. The state needs to do more to make Ohio friendly to business. If the governor and the state legislature were doing their jobs properly they would find a way to put Ohioans to work and therefore raise tax revenues.
Public employees train for their positions. That means they go to college, achieve competency in specialized processes and earn graduate degrees. These employees are paid substantially less than than their private sector counterparts because governments cannot afford to pay them private sector wages. They do, however, receive a decent pension (not lush or extravagant) and the ability to accumulate time off. I know several public employees who could earn more in white collar jobs than they do in a jail, classroom or a patrol car but they have allowed their passion for public service to lead them down another path. I think we are all better for it. If the government decided to forgo a professional class of workers and simply paid minimum wage with substandard benefits we would all pay the price. Excellence costs money, whether it's in a bank office or a classroom.