Sunday, April 01, 2007

Governor Riley, What about your "The Right Track"?

In today's B'ham News, Lori Chandler reports Alabama is backing up according to the latest New Economy Index study "which measures how well states are transitioning from a manufacturing to a more high-tech economy with more white-collar, well-educated workers". This study is administered by the nonprofit Kauffman Foundation and the Information Technology and Innovative Foundation. Their actual 2007 report plus more information explaining the rankings is available here. Ranking 44th in 1999, then 45th in 2002, Alabama is at 46th now.

Perhaps Bob Riley might have been merely in campaign mode with his "right track" PR effort? Now I'll give the Governor some credit and accept it could be a whole lot worse. He's no Fumbling Fob or Goofy Guy for instance! I'll also agree The Don let us down, although this most recent DOJ scandal (You USAs better prosecute Democrats or else!) does makes a fellow ponder.

Still, Governor Riley and perhaps most of Alabama's leaders, on either side of the aisle likely, have hardly made the leap we'll need to change these numbers. Just our JuCo scandals (note the plural as here's just today's outrage) show the sorry state of this state! Ever since George Wallace built the JuCo system, largely for patronage purposes I'd argue, perhaps we were doomed yet few "leaders" have attempted to remedy the situation. A good number have been working both ends or otherwise distracted or ignorant or ...

With NCLB stil on the books and Bu$hCo in office, plus the budget woes due to the GOP's fat cat tax policy and their Iraq fiasco, true progress in education and other critical areas is likely going to be left up to the various states. Can anyone imagine our current crop of legislators will be able to do much? Sure, there are a few down there on Goat Hill that might step up to the plate yet the majority are hardly what I'd describe as courageous innovators. Are many, some might ask any, proud Progressives or even Populists? We've certainly got a good dose of Conservatives and others that are fully or mostly controlled by special interests. We also know that plenty of clearly needed reforms have stalled out once the Big Mules brayed their objections.

Also, what about continued change and the fact that Brazil, Russia, China, India ... will continue to make strides? While I'm hoping "fair trade" will soon replace "free trade" as the dominant frame, globalization is forcing even the middle class to start to ponder the future. David Sirota's idea that we'll perhaps soon have populism becoming more acceptable as the middle class continues to get pinched is rather related to the future facing Alabama and our nation.

Finally, ever the partisan, I couldn't help but notice the states ranking at the top tend to be Democratic Party strongholds yet I'll also admit that wealth, education, history, etc. have much to do with their rankings. Peace ... or War!

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