Sunday, January 25, 2009

Destination 2040: Part 5

Picking up on the discussion of the Destination 2040 report, today I will look at Aspect 3 Economic Expansion. They describe Lexington as a fertile field of opportunity, where taking advantage of key strengths and exploring creative new endeavors will benefit all its people. That has long been the case but what they do not mention, or see the prospect of, is that it does not benefit all people equally. By simply reading the statement, one could imply that all will benefit equally, but that has NEVER been the case.

The community elements of Economic Expansion are:
New or Existing Business Expansion
Stable Employment / Adequate Wages

Agricultural Industry

Workforce Training and Educatio
Stabilization of Government Revenues
Regional Cooperation
Institutes of Higher Education as Economic Engines
Business Recruitment Strategies/Methods
Entrepreneurship and Innovative Partnerships/Programs
Generation of New Markets or Products
In this aspect, the ranking do not show any great need for any one to be ahead of any other as the all may be equally valid. I do question the first one, as to whether It should better read Existing and New Business Expansion, but that is just quibbling details.

This time the report re-arranges the order of the elements and starts with number 2 Stable Employment/Adequate Wages.

To further enhance business, government, and non-profit job expansion efforts toward both high wage skills-based workplaces and high-income knowledge based workplaces… sounds like an admirable goal, but that should hardly be first in a long line of actions. This action will, in the long run, increase the revenue collected by the local government, but we need to enhance the abilities and wages of the lower classes first. When we ensure a living wage for the common workman AND ensure that the so called “high-wage “ positions are not in the realm of the “New York financiers” that we have heard of lately, then we can gain more opportunity for both ends of the economic scale. The worker training opportunities are(or will be) there, what is not there is the ability to attend, due to pressing needs to provide for a family. Assure a living wage and reduce the economic pressure and people will advance themselves.

We do have an active cultural arts scene. It may not be as active as Danville/Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts, but there is a cultural scene going on. We have two fine university concert halls, one publicly owned venue and a number of smaller sites. There is no reason why Lexington should not have concerts and shows of the caliber of those presented almost weekly in Danville It is curious the both universities are left out of the list of initiators for this action. There is a nice arena for other concerts and events in our Rupp Arena, the unfortunate reality is that what plays well there is not considered cultural enough for the upper echelons of cultural society. Country music concerts and monster truck shows are all cultural events.

The action to create permanent school based personnel to facilitate job placement come too close to a Big Brother society for my tastes. We already have school counselors which cannot seem to correctly assess the real problem students in order to provide real help, otherwise we would currently be reaching the intent of this goal.

Community element 1 Existing and New Business Expansion has seven action statements with such broad reaching, generalized meanings that each and every one of them could be working a cross purposes with any of the others. Mostly, what I get out of them is a sense of doing here the same that has been done elsewhere and had brought this country to the brink of financial collapse. Our need is to return to the basics and let the people do what they have done before the global economics got in the way.

Element 3 is our treasured Agricultural Industry and by that we mean the equine industry( plus some of those food farmers) since we have lost the tobacco market as a major money mover. The actions all have something to do with our “signature” industry and have nothing to do with our sustainable agriculture that was predicted in the opening section of the report. The industry of thoroughbred horses will not feed the families of the high-paid high-tech workers that we apparently will have, nor will it support the well paid health care workers and scientists housed within Lexington’s boundaries. What is needed will be acres upon acres of re-localized, truly sustainable food production, supplemented by greenhouses of non-local species plants. Even agriponics is not out of the question.

Once again, in Element 4 the action statements do not follow the form of the element heading. Workforce Training & Education actions are all about education and very little about training the real workforce. If the past 30 years is any evidence, then one would realize that the real workforce is not the highly educated, but those that do the bidding of the educated elite.

The first action of setting and reaching a top tier in U.S. education still puts us somewhere near 16th or 17th globally, which is a far cry from the top. The second action desires a nebulous number of “free scholarships”to local schools of questionable reputation which is like getting free gas without asking about quality. Action three tells me that if we throw enough money at education, then we will have the highest paid teachers graduating the same quality of students as we are presently. Fifteen years to raise the standards but five years to over pay the teachers. The last three actions will continue to display efforts that have done "sooo well" in the past.

I , myself see very little coming from these actions that is not already being done.

Next time I will tackle one of my favorite topics the Cultural Creativity of our creative class

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