If you just arrived from Mars, you might want to know how things are going in Oklahoma. On what fronts?
During the good times, with the price of crude above $100 a barrel, things were great. Aerospace and aviation were also doing well and with agriculture prices up farmers and ranchers were buying new equipment. In the political arena, those tasked with moving the state forward rested on their oars.
In Tulsa, our low-energy mayor (to borrow from Mr. Trump) did not get the business he promised. In Oklahoma City, the secretary of Commerce and Tourism Deby Snodgrass also produced no rabbits. With no economic development effort and a failed public school system added to a personal income tax, no wonder the state lags. Why would people move to Oklahoma?
Another problem we need to factor in is the manufacturing industry. The national numbers are dismal.
As the Wall Street Journal daily reports, manufacturing is in a funk.
With a world economy bordering on deflation the demand for U.S. made products is down. Actually, the American economy is growing at only 1.5 percent. It normally runs at 4 percent. The only groups excited about those numbers reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the Federal Reserve. Both groups are blind.
The manufacturing index is expected to drop below 50 for the first time in three years.
When my profession was banking, I would remark that if one needed to know how to run a drilling rig, there were thousands of Oklahomans who could help. If you needed to run a manufacturing plant, there were only a handful who know how. Norm Asbjornson, Jerry Ryan and Dick Williamson come to mind.
One may think that since manufacturing only accounts for 9 percent of U.S. employment, it isn’t important. Actually, its impact is much bigger. “A lot of people who don’t get counted as manufacturing employees, including many truckers and warehouse workers, have jobs that depend on manufacturers.” Goods manufacturing is actually 30 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Manufacturers are bankers’ best customers.
This column has reported about a WSJ article saying that Utah gained 16,000 California jobs in just one month. I know this story because I called the governor’s office in Utah and was told it was true and made possible because Utah made calls into California. They had “boots on the ground.”
Oklahoma has no “boots on the ground.” No office no people and no plan for either. Oklahoma needs to get its act together.
All we need to do is not make matters worse by finding another Common Core or Ten Commandments Red Herring to waste energy on.
The California and Illinois business environments are target rich for Oklahoma economic calling. Many cities in these states have joined with Mr. Obama in “punishing business.”
John Ella writes about an ADP survey showing that “half of responding small and midsize business lacked confidence that they would be able to keep up with constantly changing workplace laws and regulations.” Mr. Ella explains that the president hopes to use municipal ordinances to get what he can’t get though Congress. The administration is actually funding these new regulations.
These new regulations are coming from California, Colorado, Wisconsin, Oregon, New Jersey and Illinois.
Isn’t it time Oklahoma made active calls into these states to help companies move to a more business-friendly environment? Why not try?
Sadly, we don’t seem to have the backbone. We can’t even reform public education to keep our education majors and teachers in Oklahoma.