We've written about this before, but it is good to be reminded about principles that make the world work, so that we aren't easily swayed by good story tellers and fairy tales. Recently the Herald and News’ editor published a piece titled “Building The Local Economy From Within. Following is the money quote:
Lead by facilitator Gary Weldon, the group included city and county officials, chamber of commerce members, people from Klamath County Economic Development Association and the South Central Oregon Economic Development District, tourism representatives, and officials from Oregon Tech, KCC, Sky Lakes Medical Center, banks and utilities.
Now carefully look at that list and tell me how many government / government funded / government regulated entities are listed versus how many private sector businesses/industries. Hmmm. This is like trying to solve a physics problem and inviting all the English and History professors into a room to figure out the answer. In both scenarios we've got the wrong people in the room. Why? Because the groups listed in the Herald and News story don't offer their products or services in the competitive world. Being competitive, aka profitable, need not apply. For the most part all of these entities are all monopolies. Yet this is the brain trust called together to solve our economic problems? Woe to us.
Profit, Profit, Profit
The reason the Klamath Basin is in this economic malaise — whether looking at the unemployment rate, government budget shortfalls, or businesses cutting back / closing — is not because we don't have enough government services nor because we don't agree about how to allocate water. The frank and simple answer is the Klamath Basin does not offer private sector businesses an opportunity to make a good profit. Sure, some businesses are doing well, but overall most small-medium businesses are fighting to stay alive. Therefore we should not be clamoring for new or higher taxes, no matter what "good cause" may be on the agenda for the day. What keeps businesses growing and hiring is not new school buildings, fully staffed public libraries and museums or all three jail pods open at the county clink. No, what keeps businesses growing is profit.
So let's hear some great ideas from the Herald and News how to lower the burden of government taxes, regulations and fees so that local businesses have a fighting chance to make good profits. Until businesses have a robust bottom line, gathering all the English and History professors of the world will never solve the physics problem.