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About time

MBJ Editorial

By definition, a legislature is a deliberative body. Ideas and issues are discussed, dissected and debated, and out of the dialogue come society’s laws and policies.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Last week, after 82 days of special session, the Mississippi Legislature did the right thing by passing a tort reform measure for business and industry. The fact that it took three months for this process to work is of little consequence now. What matters is that the business community won’t be such an inviting target for frivolous lawsuits, overzealous trial lawyers and outrageous jury awards.

Is the new law perfect? No. However, with it and the changes made earlier this fall to medical malpractice litigation, we have a reasonable beginning to the civil justice reform process.

Globalization at home

Globalization is the new economic reality for companies around the world, across the nation and in hundreds of Mississippi communities.

Much attention has been paid to the wonders of the global economy and the promise that it holds for, literally, billions of people to lead better lives, have better jobs, homes, health care. The sweep of market capitalism around the world has the potential to save future generations of humanity from the shackles of poverty.

But, and you knew this cautionary exhortation was coming, but if we hope to realize the full potential of this economic paradigm, then balancing the interests and needs of individuals across socioeconomic and even continental lines must be a priority. In other words, globalization should benefit both the Haves and the Have-Nots.

Close to home, Mississippi has lost about 50,000 manufacturing-related jobs in the past seven years. They’ve gone to Mexico. And China. These jobs are not coming back. What can be done to prevent future job losses? What can we do to make Mississippi a great place for manufacturing? How do we put together a viable economic plan for existing industry? These are tough questions, but we must find the answers.

As Pete Walley, director of long-range economic development planning for the state, told the Mississippi Business Journal last week, “We do what we know best to do. We know recruiting very well. We are probably as shrewd a recruiter as any state in the nation. But that is only one action that we need to pay attention to in the manufacturing sector. We need to understand existing industry needs, and we need to really understand what capability we have in the public sector to maintain our industry.”

Walley suggests a three-pronged approach to the dilemma:

– Sweeten the incentive program for existing industry

– Concentrate on training the workforce.

– Bring the state’s academic capacity to bear on solving the practical problems of the manufacturing sector.

These are solid ideas and worth pursuing. The next question: will we? Or will we lose even more?


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