Plain Talk – 9.14.10

Plain Talk – 9.14.10

Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2010 4:15 pm
By: Nicolle Crist, Guest Columnist

Sometimes I like to sit down and do a little math. I know that probably sounds strange but  I enjoy the exactness of basic math. There’s no ‘maybe.’ There’s no gray area. There’s one answer and one answer only. So few things in life are that absolute. Maybe that’s why I take comfort in it.
I usually stick to basic accounting math – balancing the checkbook or playing with a spreadsheet while daydreaming what life would be like if, 10 years ago I had bought Google stock instead of a used Dodge neon?
Ever so often I wander into the world of public data. If there’s a level below amateur, that’s me. I’m certainly no economist and don’t claim to be. But when I hear that the unemployment rate in Weakley County is down from 15.6 percent in July of 2009 to 13.4 percent this past July; I want to understand what that means. So off to the Tennessee Department of Labor website I go.
Right here in Weakley County we have more than 2,000 people out of work. I’ve learned that the magic unemployment number is 4 percent – that’s considered healthy and efficient. Anything lower and workers demand higher salaries because there are too many unfilled positions.
At 4 percent there are just enough jobless people to maintain competition and keep workers productive.  
A goal  that would produce an economically sound Weakley County and 8th Congressional District. At a minimum it could give the kids who grow here the opportunity to make a living and raise a family of their own here one day. In Weakley County we’d need an investment of at least $22 million dollars.
We need 1,513 new job openings in Weakley County and  just for the sake of argument, I assumed that each of those jobs pays only the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour.
Even though it’s not realistic to assume that a minimum wage job offers 40 hours per week for 50 weeks a year, I just used that as jumping off point. To meet that goal, a company, university, or government entity would need to invest $21,941,400 in yearly payroll alone.
That’s just Weakley County. When you add up all of the full counties in the 8th congressional district, which I did, the task ahead of us is enormous. We need 22,742 jobs. That’s more than $1/4 billion, $329,764.800 to be “exact.”
When put into perspective and real dollars, the investment needed in our county and district is staggering.  So I have to ask, why are we ignoring our real problems? Instead we’re choosing to debate whether or not the 1st Amendment applies to the second largest religion on earth, Islam.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” End of story. There is no such thing as a “Ground Zero Mosque.” It’s just yet another distraction to divert our attention away from our very real challenges.
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WCP 9.14.10


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