You can decide whether it has anything to do with Congressman Bennie Thompson giving his endorsement yesterday, but Hatiesburg mayor Johnny Dupree has charged ahead of Clarksdale businessman Bill Luckett in the Mississippi Business Journal poll, which asks “Who will be the Democratic nominee for governor?” … Click here to see the results
Despite Johnny Dupree receiving an endorsement today from Congressman Bennie Thompson, Clarksdale businessman Bill Luckett leads a MBJ reader poll asking who will be the Democratic nominee for governor. Click here to see the results and vote.
My wife understands that my brain works differently than most people’s. It could be the reason she loves me, or she could just be taking pity on me.
Either way, she keeps me around despite the random questions and statements I have and make.
Lately, the questions have been more frequent. She just rolls her eyes and keeps on moving.
Like last weekend. I was watching the Red Sox play on TV on July 4. I was horrified at the god-awful ugly hats my team was wearing that captured the American flag inside the “B” on the hat. I get it. It’s Independence Day. It’s patriotic, I guess. It’s an opportunity for Major League Baseball to make more money on the sales of the alternative hat. It’s still ugly.
But why were the Toronto Blue Jays wearing a similar-style hat? Toronto is still in Canada, right?
Will American teams wear ugly hats with a maple leaf imbedded in the logo for the Canadian independence day? When is Canadian independence day?
Another of my questions is why is a pickle named a pickle? I mean, it’s a pickled cucumber.
We have pickled okra and pickled beats and pickled eggs and even pickled pigs feet. So, what’s up with pickles. Was it the first thing ever pickled?
This may all seem silly, but all of this random thinking fits well in an election year.
Everyone has been, particularly in the governor and lieutenant governor’s race, endorsed by someone.
Both Dave Dennis and Phil Bryant have been endorsed by The Tea Party, which is odd.
A press release from the Dennis camp didn’t make it much clearer … The “Official TEA Party of Mississippi” (although others claim to be THE statewide TEA group) has endorsed Bryant. The Gulf Coast 912 Project and Alcorn County TEA Party Patriots have endorsed Dennis.
When the NRA endorsed Bryant, Dennis followed up by saying he had been a member of the NRA for 20 years. Then he ripped the endorsement, calling it “politics.”
Bryant gets the nod from “several law enforcement” groups.
Dennis gets the nod from the Madison County Journal newspaper.
Former Sen. Trent Lott endorsed Billy Hewes for lieutenant governor while Tate Reeves has endorsements from just about everyone else.
My favorite though, came on June 27 when Bryant’s camp announced it had received the endorsement from “Bully Bloc.”
The Bully Bloc, according to the press release, is a non-partisan political action committee, not affiliated with Mississippi State University.
So, let me get this straight.
An endorsement was given from an organization whose main claim to fame is that it is not affiliated with Mississippi State University.
Why even point it out?
I would rather contemplate the origins of the pickle.
It makes more sense.
Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1018
Mississippians are fat, stupid and doomed to low-wage, menial careers, according to a Ball State University report.
However, officials at the Mississippi Economic Council scoff at the findings, leading MEC president Blake Wilson to say, “I’m glad (they are) very safe behind (their) internet research perch.”
Michael Hicks, director of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research, which conducted the study, told the Mississippi Business Journal that 4 out of 10 Mississippians are not going to be able to compete for jobs in the new manufacturing world, which depends greatly on mathematical skills and education.
“We’re in trouble. We are in big trouble,” admitted former Mississippi university and high school administrator Reggie Barnes.
The Ball State report graded all 50 states in several areas of the economy that support manufacturing and logistics. Mississippi ranked low in education, obesity and overall health, among other categories.
“Mississippi is a nice place,” Hicks said. “But the only jobs most people are going to get are shucking oysters and sweeping floors.”
Mississippi received an overall score of C+ for manufacturing and good grades in diversification and tax climate. However, failing grades in human capital and venture capital give Mississippi a dim economic future to look toward.
“Obviously, he has never been to Mississippi,” Wilson said. “That’s just a ridiculous statement. Anybody that knows anything about Mississippi knows we’ve got all kinds of high-tech employment.
“He’s probably looking at older data when he’s looking at that conclusion,” Wilson said. “And this is why we don’t take this kind of study very seriously. I mean it’s legitimate research. It’s just that it doesn’t mean a whole lot.”
But when asked about the MEC response, Hicks chuckled and said, “So, let me guess, the MEC is wanting to tell you that Mississippi is a great place and I am some Yankee that doesn’t know what he is talking about?
“To say that poor education is not holding back Mississippi from an economic perspective is to suggest your head is in the sand or a darker orifice,” he said.
One Mississippi expert acknowledges the downside of the report, and says this should be a wake up call to Mississippi leaders to make a change.
“An F on human capital? Ouch,” exclaims Mississippi College assistant professor of finance Nancy Anderson, who is also on the board of the Mississippi Council on Economic Education.
Anderson, however, noted that most southern states are similarly graded.
“Our lower grades are ‘fixable,’ with some effort,” Anderson said. “This seems to be a call for more investment in education, more funding for university research. The venture capital hurdle can even be cleared, with some help from the public sector.”
Mississippi officials — Including Jay Moon at the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and director of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Hank Bounds — were not available to the Mississippi Business Journal for an interview regarding this story.
“Some states, such as Indiana, have seen a real turnaround in manufacturing employment since the end of the recession (up 4.6 percent), while the nation as a whole has seen one in 50 manufacturing jobs lost,” Hicks says.
“Prior to the recession, business location and expansion decisions were almost wholly driven by the availability of skilled workers,” he says. “Today, that is far less a short term consideration, and tax rates, and concern about future tax increases due to high pension costs and other factors dominate business decisions to relocate. So, states that emerge from this recession with a solid fiscal climate will tend to outperform those with uncertain balance sheets.”
That is good news for Mississippi in the short term.
“Haley Barbour will be glad to hear that,” Hicks said. “Mississippi will likely benefit for the near term because of its friendly tax laws and diversity of manufacturing. In the current recovery, states with good tax climates are going to do well.”
But in Mississippi, the real problem of education and healthcare “has not gone away,” Hicks said.
While Mississippi may be gaining cutting-edge manufacturing from the solar and green energy sector, there are few actual Mississippians who can take advantage of the new jobs. Therefore, the new jobs will likely go to people moving from other states, having little positive effect on the double-digit unemployment here.
Even if Mississippi gets all of the high-tech jobs on the plant, Mississippians, for the most part, aren’t going to be the people working there, Hicks explains. (Mississippians) are good people, but they lack the education to work in a real-world economy.
The other side is that because of the poor education and general health of the state (the fattest state in America), Hicks says the best applicants likely will never consider moving to Mississippi.
“That’s the problem,” Hicks says of the long-term economic future of Mississippi. And the positives from the tax climate and diversification don’t come close to making up for the downsides.
“(Mississippi) is just not going to get (the new and best) major manufacturing plants,” Hicks said. “(Mississippians without a proper education) are out of the mix.”
The problem is with 8th grade math scores. Mississippi is far behind the rest of the nation and that is an area manufacturing is concentrating on.
In a cover story in Atlantic Magazine, education was front and center. Nationwide: only 6 percent of U.S. students perform at the advanced-proficiency level in math, a share that lags behind kids in some 30 other countries, from the United Kingdom to Taiwan.
In Mississippi, math scores are much worse, and students here — by this measure at least — might as well be attending school in Thailand or Serbia. Every year, a better education for our youth is listed as our top need, like in this Ball State report. To this point, Mississippi just cut spending at every level of education from kindergarten to graduate school.
Barnes said this is at the heart of the problem of education and industry and economy.
“When are we going to learn or wake up to the direct correlation between education and economic development?” Barnes asked. “We just keep our heads in the sand.”
School superintendents with experience are not willing to make a change at the local level for fear of losing their jobs and their retirement, because of the pressure put on them from above, he said. As for younger superintendents, he says they are unwilling to rock the boat for fear of having their future yanked out from under them.
“You must have these skills,” Hicks said. “Computer skills and a higher lever of math is what everyone is looking for.”
And Mississippi workers do not and will not have these skills, based on scores Ball State examined for its study.
“When are we going to make those changes?” Barnes asked. “I wish I could tell you someone, somewhere has the guts to stand up and change things, but I don’t see it.”
And then he said there is no debating that without an overhaul, Mississippi will continue to be compared to Thailand, where the large-scale sex industry flourishes and education is on the back burner.
Look for a story in the upcoming Mississippi Business Journal on the detailed report on the results gathered during in the Mississippi Economic Council’s Blueprint Mississippi Road Show
According to the MEC, more than 2,000 business and community leaders from throughout the state took part in the electronic voting process at the face-to-face meetings held in 20 different communities. An additional 1,000 participated in an online survey, which asked the same questions.
We will be looking at the results and finding out what they mean.
A Mississippi House bill passed Thursday afternoon places the burden of responsibility for illegal immigration on the employers of the state
Thursday’s 80-36 vote came after a short explanation and no debate.
The bill would also allow law officers to check people’s immigration status during traffic stops or other encounters.
POLL QUESTION: Are you for a new House bill that is tough on immigration in Mississippi, but also tough on business employers?
However, the business community has now been placed squarely at the forefront of the immigration debate as the House bill calls for fines of a minimum of $5,000 per day per employee to a maximum for $25,000 per day per employee.
And that applies to small and large businesses as well as everyday citizens, who might have an undocumented housekeeper or lawn service worker.
Businesses found to have broken the law would lose all tax breaks and incentives provided for them and a clawback provision would force previous offenders to pay back money already credited to them over a period of time.
“Illegal aliens are not coming to Mississippi to sell drugs,” David Norquist (D-Cleveland) said Thursday afternoon. “They are here to make money and send that money out of Mississippi and back to Mexico to support their families and the economies of the towns the families live in.
“What we have here with this bill is the penalties have to outweigh the risk of hiring illegal aliens,” Norquist continued. “If employers weren’t hiring illegal aliens, there wouldn’t be an illegal alien issue in Mississippi.”
With the shift of emphasis from law enforcement to Mississippi employers, the bill would make a fund in which all of the fines, from $5,000 to $25,000 a day, would go to re-imburse officials enforcing the law.
This leaves Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant in a precarious position as this bill moves into the Senate.
Does Bryant back the bill, which is tough on immigration?
Or will Bryant back the business community and water down or kill the bill?
On the enforcement side, the state auditor will have the authority to chase offenders, which leaves open the possibility of Howard Industries having to pay back more than $3 million in incentives after a human resources manager was charged after a sweep saw 595 illegal aliens placed on administrative arrest. Of those arrested, nine were charged criminally with aggravated identity theft and ultimately pled guilty to federal identity fraud charges.
Pro-business organizations, like the Mississippi Economic Council, the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Mississippi as well as BIPEC (Business and Industry Political Education Committee) are certain to take a hard stand against the bill.
Meanwhile, organizations like the Tea Party are likely to support the bill as hard on illegal immigration.
Early mornings are the best time to go to annual Hobnob event sponsored by the Mississippi Economic Council.
I spent about an hour and a half there this morning before the masses descended on the grounds around the Mississippi Agricultural Museum.
In general, Hobnob is one of my favorite events of the year because it is such a great opportunity to visit with business leaders around the state in an informal, laid back setting. The weather, while sometimes windy, is usually perfect and the program is captivating.
Blake Wilson and his crew do a great job and should be commended for the work they do to pull this off. I recently had lunch with Blake and asked him about preparation for the event, expecting moans and sighs about how hard it is.
Instead, he lauded his colleagues with lots of praise, saying Sandy Maxwell, Scott Waller, Ron Hicks and the rest of the staff have the prep work down to a science. He did admit the hard work that goes into putting Hobnob together, but he feels their formula for success is working and the process in place works.
I couldn’t agree more.
In actuality, I suspect, neither is the case. But I get a chuckle out of the stuff that gets sent around with particular venom and general mean spirit about the media.
We in the media, according to most of the e-mails, are anti-America, anti-military, anti-business, anti-family … basically, just “anti.”
One I got not so long ago referenced the death of a Medal of Honor winner, who lived in Boise, Idaho.
The e-mail goes into great detail about his experience in Ia Drang Valley during the Vietnam War.
Ed Freeman, against orders, flew his helicopter into a firefight to save pinned-down infantrymen. Actually, he went back and forth 13 times for men that would have perished otherwise.
Then, the kicker … “I bet you didn’t hear about this hero’s passing in the media.”
But the e-mailer was sure we had all seen lots of reports of celebrity antics and brushes with the law.
The final line read, “Shame on the American Media!”
Lazy and presumptive
Well, this kind of stuff drives me crazy. So, I immediately began to look up Mr. Freeman with this new, fancy technological tool, called “Google.”
After exhaustive research of the woeful American media archives, and with my (media-hat-wearing) head hung low, I responded to the e-mail:
Just a quick search shows that the media did a fine job in covering this story, below are three stories that I found. I am sure there are more, including local television and radio, which I did not look for.
Even a Mississippi post office may be named after this war hero, I read in a newspaper account.
I believe people are too quick to jump on the media. If folks will take about three seconds to look for it, generally you will find that the media has done its job.
And yes, this is a great story about a great American that served his country well, and I am glad the media did a good job in reporting it. Best, Ross.
I included several links to the stories. Three seconds. That’s all it took.
I know the media is an easy target and sometimes rightfully so as Howard Kurtz pointed out in his book “Media Circus: The Trouble with America’s Newspapers.”
Kurtz, the long-time Washington Post media critic, who last week jumped to the web’s “Daily Beast,” points out a bias toward bad news, and an emphasis on scandal.
But, by and large, the media — the middle-of-the-road media — does it right most of the time.
While we might not like everything we read or see, the media serves a great purpose in our society, which we would miss dearly were it not available in an objective form. I only hope we at the MBJ can live up to the other great journalism being practiced in every form of the profession.
Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at email@example.com or (601) 364-1018.
In a poll on the MBJ Web site last week about 80 percent of the respondents said Mississippi should shorten the school year to save money for the schools and make money for transportation.
This came after we reported on a story that stated if school began at the end of August, a study by Gulf Coast Business Council Research Foundation finds the state could generate millions in tourism dollars and school districts could save money on utilities.
Currently, most districts begin holding class the first or second week in August. The study looked at starting at the end of August or the first week of September.
While the study does not advocate a position, the study does point out that if school started later and summer was extended, the state could make more than $150 million from in-state and out-of-state tourists. The study also says school districts could save between $1 million and $3 million a year on utilities.
Most other studies believe that children should be goig to school on into the summer, not shortening the school year. Many of those studies believe the only way to improve the American business model is for our children to be more immersed in studies.
So, I guess the question comes down to whether we want to save dollars today or make money in the future.
I’m not sure the study takes that into account.