By JR on Wednesday, January 04, 2012
One small American town offers lessons that the whole of America needs at the moment.
REVIEW of "The JOB Messiahs" a history of the Port of Coos Bay in Oregon
There has been a lot of space dedicated on this blog documenting the failed economic development efforts in Coos County paid for at taxpayer expense and much of that directed specifically at the Port of Coos Bay but it seems I have barely scratched the surface of a decades long system that plunders state and federal treasuries all in the name of government sponsored economic development.
Local author, Wim de Vriend has compiled a long history that proves Einstein’s oft quoted axiom, “You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.”
The JOB Messiahs, How government destroys our prosperity and our freedoms to “create jobs” is a twenty year effort by the author to chronicling from the 1970s when the Port of Coos Bay decided to become an economic development agency and the series of follies that followed: “…the Crosline Ferry, the unused T-Dock, money losing fish plants in Charleston, an obnoxious fish-waste plant that went broke, the unused barge-slip on the North Spit, and many more.”
It belies the local myth that “if you build it, they will come”, so commonly employed by the economic development crowd. De Vriend’s effort is a vivid reminder of the past promotional schemes, eerily similar to those we see today, like a coal export terminal in the eighties promising JOBS, JOBS, JOBS, and proudly trumpeted by the local press.
He makes the compelling argument that the Port policies thwart small business development, the real engine behind job creation. The title of his book describes people known as Industrial Recruiters, or as Economic Development Specialists, or maybe, he adds with a wink, “the Executive Director of the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay.” So why call them JOB-Messiahs? “. . . because small towns hungry for JOBS see them as saviors, and they are delighted to play the part. But they are no saviors, and what few JOBS they cause to appear are not worth the expense.”
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