Monday, February 07, 2011

Exodus: The Final Chapter

From the Delta Democrat Times:

The population of Washington County has decreased by 18% according to the 2010 census. The truth hurts. Washington County is losing its population faster than anywhere else in the state. It is a daunting statistic and one that we can’t ignore. What does it all mean? It means that our once great city and county have lost the one thing that determines its future, the prosperity of its citizens. Gone are the days when manufacturing companies would clamor for our non-union, lower paid work force. Major corporations have found an even cheaper place to make their wares – away from the borders of the U.S. While this is the general cause for the root of our problems, generally the residents of Washington County can blame no one but ourselves. Once the writing was on the wall and we saw that plants were losing and jobs were leaving town, our community leaders should have tried to come up with a plan to help stem the tide.

Unfortunately they were unsuccessful. Now we must put the past behind us, and step up to the plate. It is time we come together and make some hard decisions on what Washington County is, and what we want its future to be. We need to come together, draw the line in the sand and say enough is enough. Here are some things we need to think about over the next year to address the issue:

1) It’s an election year. When you make your choices in the election of our county and city leaders, make sure they have vision. Let’s just not elect the lesser of two evils. We need leaders to help provide solutions and welcome the ideas of others. We do not need status quo.

2) We need a strong Delta Economic Development Center. The EDC is important because it is supposed to be run by people who have no agenda except to see our town grow. A strong businessperson is always looking for growth, and no matter what type of business they have, more customers means more business. Providing the community with more opportunity should be the sole purpose of the EDC. The EDC leadership should have no political agendas. The EDC needs a strong executive board that will provide that leadership for our community. Hopefully the new director will provide Washington County with a good first step.

While most people will point to a poor school system, or high crime rate as the reason for our population decline and lack of new job creation, the truth is that these are just bi-products of our lack of vision. The problems Greenville faces are not unique and it needs strong leadership to help show us the way. While we face an uphill battle, we do have some strong positives that we need to leverage into the future. Our solid agricultural foundation provides a great base for us to grow. And with commodity prices on the rise, what better place to be than in the Delta – our soil is one of the best in the world.

We are also the retail hub for the entire region – we have more retail stores than any other town or city within 100 miles – and we should use that to our advantage. While good political leadership would be helpful, it’s the community leaders and pro-active residents who can take us to a place of greatness that can be even better than before.

While I am not quite as "optimistic" about Greenville's future as the above author, I do suspect the accuracy of the 2010 census figures.

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in our state wants to "stand up and be counted". If you are a participant in any type of welfare fraud, the last thing you want to do is tell the truth about who you are, where you live, your employment status and how many dependents you have! Revealing any of this information could get you and your family kicked right off the "Gravy Train". This group is not worried about the number of seats in the house and senate; they are worried about THEIR seat at the at the ever-growing table of fraud and abuse.

Recently, I was in a local restaurant and overheard an irate woman complaining to her friend. The gist of the conversation was that her "no good" daughter had rushed down to the tax office the first week of January and claimed all 7 of her "deductions" (children). Then when the complainant recently tried to claim these same "deductions" on her tax form, the government refused her!

Apparently, our government applies a "first come, first serve" policy with regard to dependents. Once the SS# has been used as a deduction, it's off the table, regardless of legal custody or birth-right.

Now, I do not doubt that Greenville's population is significantly changing, but I would consider it more of a "shift"... from "taxpayers" to "tax-recipients". With a population reduction of 18% one would expect to see similar reductions in crime rates, unemployment and welfare costs? Not so in Greenville! The only thing decreasing in Greenville is the revenue generated from tax-paying citizens.

Now... who wants to be Mayor? Is there anyone left who would consider the job, other than those Hudson flunky wanna-bees? What about a successful businessman or a competent attorney? Hell, what about a house-wife who can balance a checkbook? The bar is currently set rather "low".

It is almost "amusing" to me that in my home town, the most controversial issue has become the banning of plastic flowers in the cemetery. Somehow, I think this speaks volumes about the direction in which Greenville is looking...