That dull ache in the back of your head

I have a confession to make. I have a guilty pleasure.

I listen to Air America several times a week. I find it fascinating. It is so vitriolic. Regularly George Bush’s name is used in the same sentence as Mussolini. He orchestrated 9/11. He’s the devil. Then, just to prove its liberal credentials, ‘Leonard’ made the case a couple of days ago for legalizing sex with animals. After all, he said, we violate them by eating their ‘flesh’, sex wouldn’t be as bad, he said. I am not quite sure if that was tongue in cheek….

Anyway, after an hour or so of Air America, after I start getting a dull ache in the back of my neck, I find myself surfing over to The antidote for Air America.

We just don’t have anything like that in Canada. At least online. At least that I can find. Sure, we have Andrew Krystal but he’s just an radio version of Al Hogan. He rails against the ‘war’, ‘taxes’, ‘crime’, ‘big government’, ‘small goverment’. Basically a hodge podge made in Canada ideology that is sure to annoy everyone. Like most Canadians, he seems to want big government, but then again, he doesn’t.

You know what’s amazing about Air America and Fox News Radio? All the talk on Air America is extremely liberal but the advertising is total Republican envy. There are ads about bankruptcy, dealing with bad credit, becoming a millionaire, starting a home based business. I am not kidding. Meanwhile, Fox News Radio is highly conservative with conscience soothing, liberal advertising. They are running ads constantly about how to ‘do your part’ for global warming.

Go figure.

But I digress.

My point was that I was listening to Bill O’Reilly yesterday. He’s the grand puhbah of talk radio. He show is slick and, I have to admit, entertaining. It doesn’t really matter what he is saying. He could be sitting in for Martha Stewart – it would be interesting.

But he said yesterday something interesting. I am paraphrasing but it was basically this:

When I look at an issue, I do my homework. I study it from all sides. But when I finally take a position, I am almost always right.

When I heard him say this, I literally burst out laughing. I thought it was a joke. Who would say something like that? Iggy? Anyone?

Anyway, to my point.

I don’t know if I am right about economic development. Unlike O’Reilly, I do believe there are a number of different ways to skin a cat and what I think may or may not be right.

That brings me to the Miramichi. The Premier announced his support for the Miramichi this morning. They have set up a task force. They have assigned a BNB guy to do ‘seek and find’ for the Miramichi. They are helping FatKat.

I think this is a good idea but ‘seek and find’ what? The province has supposedly been ‘seeking’ and ‘finding’ for 30 years and aside from a few deals under McKenna after the base closure, there has been very little external business investment in the ‘Chi (other than retail services).

You could put an army on ‘seek’ and ‘find’. You could hire a whole sales team but what are they selling? What’s the value proposition? What has been done to build a ‘product’ in the ‘Chi that we can sell? What is it known for? Can we leverage existing assets?

I could be wrong but without a clear plan, serious investment and deliberate action, I don’t think that more smoke and mirrors will help.

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0 Responses to That dull ache in the back of your head

  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes,and why should the government in Fredericton lead the effort?

    Summerside faced similar adversity with the base in the early 80’s. They took charge of their situation and did not wait for someone to rescue them. The community developed a rebuilding plan and then approached government(s) for endorsement and support of their plan. Guess what, it worked.

    Similar story in Moncton.

    Listening to the Mayor, he seems to imply they simply need millions of government dollars to ‘get them out of this mess’. Even if there was money available, what would they do with it?

    You are right; they need a plan and it needs to be realistic (perhaps acknowledge that mill jobs sweeping floors at $60K per year will not be globally competitive), it needs community buy-in and it needs a local champion to lead the effort.

  2. David Campbell says:

    I agree with you. Local communities need to take more interest in and yes even control over their economic development. I always hear that cities/towns don’t have ‘any money’. Maybe we need to change the funding/taxation formulas but ultimately local communities need to be more directly involved in their economic development. As I have said many times before, the local community is the only jurisdiction that is uniquely and singularly interested in its own development.

  3. David Campbell says:

    Okay, we have an object lesson from Ontario. The government there has just announced $10 million to seed a new Bioindustrial Innovation
    Centre in Sarnia, Ontario. The centre, acting in partnership with others in the community, is
    expected to attract over $1 billion in private sector investment by 2014,
    immediately support up to 1,000 jobs in research and engineering, and help attract new bioindustrial plants to the petrochemical industry in Sarnia. The McGuinty government is committing $10 million to the project,
    which is also receiving support from the University of Western Ontario’s Sarnia-Lambton Research Park, the City of Sarnia and Lambton County.

  4. mikel says:

    Here’s a concrete example. You can read Savoie’s book on economic development in New Brunswick, its been awhile now so I can’t remember what it was called. But he essentially said what was said above-it takes THREE to tango.

    So look at the specific example he talks about-Kent County. There were three levels of government who got together to ‘make investment happen’. ONE out of those three became the problem, can you guess which one?

    It was the PROVINCE, and this was under McKenna. The moral of Savoie’s story was that without getting all three on board, forget about it happening. Now, maybe HE is wrong, who knows. However, when these things happen then municipalities hear about it. Which of course makes them act just like you would predict.

    Keep in mind that virtually EVERY municipality and region has their own little ‘industrial park’ they are trying to fill. So the idea that Miramichi is just sitting there ‘planless’ sounds a bit like the ‘other city bashing’ that is complained about. People gripe about citys not having plans, then when they have plans they aren’t ‘realistic’, or they are ‘wishful thinking’.

    I never thought I’d be the one decrying cynicism, but there it is.
    Right now EVERY city in New Brunswick should be jumping on the Miramichi bandwagon.

    So here’s a question, WHY isn’t the trauma centre being located in Miramichi? That’s a perfect example. St. John gets the entire energy department moved there from Fredericton, which department is being picked to be moved from Fredericton? None.

    So for the ‘plan’, remember, its tough to plan offense when the pucks in your end zone, particulary when people have the idea that mill jobs are 60K for ‘sweeping floors’ (funny how huge administrative salaries and massive government handouts never really signal anything about ‘competitiveness’).

    So absolutely, let’s email the Mayor of Miramichi and help him out with that plan, tell him we’ll blog all about it and convince everyone we meet that the province should put the trauma centre in Miramichi and should put a major government department there.

    The city, of course, has been doing all it can for companies like fatkat, the ‘animation’ idea is mostly theres. So to be the equavalent, those ‘data farms’ aren’t exactly in animation, but its’ at least in technology. However, maybe the ‘people in charge’ have never HEARD of such things, so its tough to lobby for them.