Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Cleveland Curse? (Part One)

I'm sure that title strikes a chord in Cleveland sports fans everywhere, but since I'm really not all that versed in athletics of any sort, this article will deal with a different curse: the Cleveland (and in general, Ohio's) job market woes. If you ARE interested in the sports variation of the curse, I would highly recommend you clicking over to my friend Joan's column (after you read this one, of course). It's a fantastic read and you won't be disappointed!

(This is the first part of a two-part blog entry. I started to write it and it kind of got away from me. I chased it down for as long as I could, but eventually realized I was running around like a chicken with its legs cut off. To quote the famous Lou Costello: "I grasp it, but it keeps slipping out of my hand!" These two entries will weave together and somewhere along the line develop a coherent theme. Hopefully. If you started with part two, I hope you took the advice and stopped reading and came back to read this one first, or you might find yourself totally confused. Rather like the author . . . )

As I sat here writing this blog there was a radio commercial that said that Cleveland is the seventh hottest job market. Talk about a P.R. shout-out (the station was advertising for a sales position for itself). I mean, really! How can this be the seventh hottest job market when there are practically NO employers?!? Makes me really concerned for the REST of the country!

Here comes the curse: Cleveland is not a victim of the failing job market. Cleveland is the CAUSE of its failing job market. Cleveland, and the state of Ohio in general, has some of the toughest regulations, and the highest taxes, of any state in the union. Cleveland believes that punishing perspective employers with loads of red tape and taxes will bring them running TO Cleveland! I really believe that statement HAS to be the truth. Why else would they continue on the same path all of these years?

Ohio's public schools are in a tough spot partly due to the shrinking tax base. The housing crisis has lowered the values of homes and therefore the property taxes have gone down as well. The lack of jobs in the state have produced more foreclosed homes - which brings a big, fat, goose egg of tax income. We hear so much from our political "leaders" that they will "create jobs". I'll tell you how jobs can be created: stop stifling businesses! Let them be! Quit trying to scratch the backs of special interest groups - you end up punishing everyone!

And for crying out loud: businesses need to QUIT pushing for regulations to "protect" themselves. All that does is eliminate competition and keep prices high. The economy will have its good times and bad times to be sure, but every time politicians try to help it along, or shore it up, they end up causing a longer and deeper bad time. A free market will have its share of corruption. That is going to happen. Get over it. But the solution to corruption is not regulation: it is allowing individuals to use the power of that free market to drive those businesses out of business. Now, if it is something criminal, there should be some intervention. But make sure that "criminal" activity is not a product of regulation (see the housing market crisis and Wall Street for great examples).

Okay, so the city of Cleveland leadership has come up with a "brilliant" idea: a new convention center! Yeah, that's the ticket! One way to bring in more business is a new convention center! It doesn't matter that this has been tried in other cities with absolute failure. It doesn't matter that Cleveland's own IX Center has found itself with dwindling vendors and attendance at events over the last few years. It doesn't matter that it has already done things like baseball and football stadiums that only get used part of the year and sit dormant the rest. It doesn't matter that the majority of business in this country comes from small business owners; not some major real estate companies that build these monstrosities. Cleveland can do it better! Right . . .

How about some simple wisdom: lower the tax rates in Ohio. All of them. For everyone. "No, J.P., we can't do that! We need the tax revenue!" Really? You are going to use THAT argument? Maybe a basic economic class is needed as a prerequisite for any city "leadership" position. Actually, make that a prerequisite for ANY political "leadership" position - city, state AND federal. Lower taxes PRODUCE more tax revenue. The more money people and businesses have the more they can DO. The more they DO the more they SPEND/INVEST. The more they SPEND/INVEST the more tax revenue gets generated. When the taxes are high NO ONE spends: individuals or businesses. If I were a potential business owner and were looking to start or expand my business, do you honestly think I'm going to go to a city/state that has such high taxes? Come on! Yeah! I want to be cash-strapped and try to hire people. I want to be cash-strapped and spend months-to-years trying to cut through the red tape of a city just to build, and then dole out most of my potential revenue back to the very politicians that are keeping me FROM establishing/growing my business.

Are you kidding me?

Cutting spending is a must. There is no question there. But what are we doing about the income side of the equation? Spending cuts. Now there's a hot topic. Please continue with part two for the rest of the rant.

© Emittravel 2011

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