Politics schmolitics. From a presidential visit — long on symbol, short on substance — to an upcoming special legislative session that is, at best, irritating, Mississippians are suffering through a healthy dose of rhetoric and histrionics from our political leadership. Throw in the statewide election campaigns and you have one heckuva summer.
President Clinton’s visit to Clarksdale last week was hailed by many as a turning point in that regions’ long-suffering economic circumstance. Through his “New Markets” plan, Clinton envisions economic development and prosperity for the country’s most depressed regions. And certainly, the Mississippi Delta is economically depressed compared to the rest of the state. But what can another federal boondoggle do to help? Nothing. Where was the federal government when hard-working Mississippians were laying a foundation for the economic renaissance we have now? Not here. And where were those hard-working Mississippians when Clinton held a roundtable discussion on the Delta’s economic future? Turned away from the door.
According to several reports, three Mississippi business and economic development leaders invited to participate in the Clarksdale town meeting were told they weren’t needed when they showed up. As one Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development official said, it would have been nice to have had a few Mississippi business folks there to talk about Mississippi business.
At the very heart of the president’s New Markets initiative lies a vast federal bureaucracy funded with our tax dollars. The program offers nothing new in the way of building new businesses and creating jobs in the Delta. The only folks who will benefit from this charade are the politicians who can claim credit for doing something “for the people,” and perhaps, the bureaucrats who can mismanage and waste your money.
Mississippi doesn’t need any more gimmicks to solve its economic dilemmas. Politicians want you to believe that a new federal program or a 10% income tax reduction will help you get ahead.
Don’t buy it. Don’t believe it.
When it comes to real economic development and building successful businesses, hard work, unique products, better service and a sound vision will beat government handouts and sound bites any day.