when pigs fly … expect the unbelievable

Forbes released a ranking for best states for business in 2016.  The ranking was based on business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.  We rated 49th in labor supply, 48th in economic climate, 49th in growth prospects, and 47th in quality of life.

Maine, at #49, with slightly more low scores than Mississippi, was ranked 15th in quality of life.  Even West Virginia, at #50, has a quality of life that Forbes ranked as 42.

Our strength:  business costs and regulatory environment.  We give tax dollars away to businesses who often do not stay successful or choose to remain long enough for us to see a return.  And we fail at regulating them, which leaves a lot of room for fraud, illegality and just bad government.

While Mississippi ranks #49 in labor supply, West Virginia ranks #50.  Neither state, apparently, is doing what it takes to educate and train suitable skilled labor.  But then, education is not something that appears very high on the lists of our governing bodies.

For the last two years, the State New Economy Index, published by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, has ranked Mississippi as 50th (except for 2007 — when it finished 49th).  The index relies on 25 indicators, including the number of jobs in high tech industries, level of skilled labor, availability of broadband internet service, foreign investments in the state, and the education level of the workforce, among others.  Rob Atkinson, co-author of the study offered by the Washington DC based foundation, said:  “Mississippi was sort of left behind in the industrialization of this country [in the early 20th century] and now, in the new century, the world is changing drastically.  Low-cost-based production isn’t going to work anymore.”  He offered that there are fewer and fewer large employers these days that hire hundreds or thousands of the kinds of relatively low-skill workers that Mississippi regularly produces.

Not to beat a dead horse, but education and socialization are the answers.  Our people need to understand that education is the key to the future and that fact needs to be endorsed and inculcated as often, and from as many varied institutions and individuals as possible.

So, go out and proselytize our citizens on the value of education, and for that matter, proselytize our legislators, too!

 

 

For those of you who follow my Rosawinklepinktriangle blog on the Mozingo|Quarles website, please forgive me because this is a duplication, but it’s an important duplication.  It’s even probably worth reading twice!

President elect Trump has appointed Senator Jeff Sessions,the 3 term junior US Senator from Alabama, to be the next attorney general of the US.  I do not know Senator Sessions personally, but living in the same general area of the country, he is often on my radar screen.

Sessions (Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III) has been called by the “National Journal” the fifth most conservative US Senator.  He has supported a national amendment to ban same sex marriage (remember, he is from the state where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Roy Moore, has been cited and suspended from the high court by the Court of the Judiciary because he told Alabama’s probate judges to defy the federal court orders on same sex marriage — the same guy, who in 2003, was taken off the bench when he defied orders to take down the 10 Commandments monument from the state judicial building) and has supported other conservative measures, including opposition to abortion and illegal immigration.  (Now, don’t get me wrong, I oppose illegal immigration, too, but our entire immigration system is “broke” and we won’t fix it with hostility.)

When Sessions was Attorney General of Alabama, he worked to deny funding to student Gay-Straight alliances at Auburn and the University of South Alabama.  It is positions like this one that earned him a zero (0) rating from the Human Rights Campaign.  And Oregon in particular is concerned because of his rather rabid anti-marijuana position.  (Apparently his rabid anti-marijuana sentiments came to light during his hearing before the Senate to become a federal judge in Alabama.  An African American man whom Sessions had worked with on some policy issues alleged to the committee that Sessions had said that he approved of the Ku Klux Klan until he realized that some of them smoked marijuana but that folks that smoke marijuana are “bad” people. This was reported by Ken Rudin, of NPR in his blog, Political Junkie,” posted on May 5, 2009.  He didn’t get confirmed.)

As the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee in the 110th Congress, while questioning Judge Sonia Sotomayor upon her nomination to the Supreme Court, he noted that “empathy for one party is always prejudice against another.”  (My understanding of the meaning of empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference — to walk a mile in those shoes, so to speak. I would hope that every judge in the land has empathy for every litigant.)  He also questioned her on her position relative to the use of foreign legal materials in considering US constitutional cases. (Scalia hated the use  of foreign legal materials; Breyer loves the use of foreign legal materials.  All I know is that after the US constitution was adopted, we relied on foreign legal materials all the time.  We had no case law of our own, so courts often turned to Britain for guidance.  British common law is still a moving force in our American rule of law.)  And he made it clear that he did not like the fact that Judge Sotomayor had served as a board member of Latino Justice (formerly known as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education fund) which was founded as a US non-profit in 1972, taking the lead from the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund which Thurgood Marshall had established in 1957.

So, it sorta seems to me that Senator Sessions doesn’t like people who think differently from him.  He seems to actually simply disregard him.  I guess his empathy level is not too high.

I’m not even going to discuss his views on women.

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, more than 201,000 households have women as the sole or primary breadwinner; 39% of those households (78,038) are living at or below the poverty line.  More specifically with the NPWF analysis, if the wage gap were eliminated in Mississippi, on average, a working woman in Mississippi would have 77 more weeks of food for her family, nine more months of mortgage and utility payments or more than nine additional months of rent.

Women make up half of Mississippi’s workforce, but 72% of the state’s minimum-wage workers.  A minimum wage leaves a family of two below the poverty level.

We have a economic hole that our legislators should be busy digging us out of.  Perhaps enforcing wage parity for women in Mississippi — many of them primary breadwinners for their homes and families — would help.

Darrin Webb is not interested in the gender wage gap and its effect on Mississippi.  In case you didn’t read the last post, he is our state economist.  And he says that he doesn’t have time to deal with such a thing “unless…requested.”  So I asked a friend in the legislature if he would request a study on the gender wage gap in Mississippi.  And I am going to ask the same of our State Treasurer, Lynn Fitch.

I am sure both the legislature and our State Treasurer would expect a full study, but among other things, I would like for Mr. Webb to tell us:

  1.  What his calculation of Mississippi’s Equal Pay Day is?  (The nation’s is April 12 — the additional length of time women must work to earn as much as men did in the previous year.)
  2. How wage gaps trend in Mississippi.  (AAUW study shows that if the gap is 7% the first year of employment, it widens in future years such that a woman with a college education will make on average $1.2 million less than a man with the same level of education.)
  3. What sort of economic stimulus would occur in Mississippi if the state determined to close the pay gap?
  4. Would this impact women-owned business in Mississippi?
  5. How likely are women who receive a larger salary to spend that new income in their community?
  6. Could equalizing the gender wage gap allow more women to leave safety net programs like Medicaid and welfare?
  7. Has Mississippi done anything to promote an understanding of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act?
  8. How would equal pay legislation interfere with the operation of the labor market?
  9. Is there a difference in the gap in STEM occupations?
  10. If all employed women in Mississippi earned the same as their mail counterparts of the same age with similar education and hours of work, would the poverty rate of women in Mississippi drop?
  11. How does the gender gap affect Mississippi families?  How would it change if the women in the families were paid equally?

It seems to me — a non-economist, that alleviating the gender pay gap could contribute to gains in the GDP, reduce poverty, and ultimately reduce dependence on federal safety-net programs.  It could potentially boost income tax collections and sales tax collections.

If there is anything you would like to know about the gender wage gap in Mississippi from our state economist, how about posting here and I’ll pass on all these inquiries to the State Treasurer and my legislator friend.  You never know when one action can pick up steam and make a difference.

Tamar Manasseh is a mom who organized Mothers Against Senseless Killings who witnessed the death of a neighborhood resident, Lucille Barnes, in June of 2015.  The group (MASK) hangs out at 75th Street and Harvard Avenue in Chicago, and began their vigil the week after Lucille was killed.

Tamar has enlisted many mothers in the neighborhood.  Sometimes they have food with them, but mostly they just wear their pink MASK T-shirts.  As she says, the group is doing what “mothers do best, get in the way.”

Tamar Manasseh is a lovely woman, but more than that, she is a good spirit.  She is one of those people who believes that one person can make a difference, and she and her group of mothers have made a difference.  “Their corner” has not experienced violence since they have been “in the way” of wrong-doers.  “If you’re trying to shoot someone and we’re out here, you’re not getting off the block!”  Amen.

tamar-manasseh

Tamar Manasseh at “her corner.”

How many times in your life have you heard someone refer to an almost impossible task as requiring “an act of Congress?”

Well, I have some good news about acts of Congress.  Our US Congress ACTED to allow WASP pilot Elaine Harmon to be interred in Arlington National Cemetery today.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh, determined in 2002 that WASPs should not be allowed to have burials in Arlington.  Who is he?  A story for another time.

The wonderful part of this story is HR 4336, the Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act of 2016 — introduced by Representative Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) with 191 co-sponsors.  Shortly thereafter, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) introduced a companion bill, S 2437.  The act was signed into law by President Obama in May 2016.

So, after a battle led by Elaine Harmon’s granddaughter, Erin Miller, today Elaine Harmon’s ashes were taken out of her daughter’s closet and interred at Arlington.  Harmon had died in April 2015 at the age of 95.

And if an act of Congress is not enough, there was a fly-by by World War II aircraft, a 21 gun salute from the Air Force Honor Guard, and “Taps.”  The honor guard folded the American flag and a female member of the Honor Guard handed the flag to Harmon’s daughter.

So, back to John McHugh.  Since 1977, federal law has granted WASPs status as WWII veterans, and in 2002 they became eligible to have their ashes interred at Arlington with full military honors.  Then John McHugh determined that WASPs never should have been allowed in Arlington and revoked their eligibility.

According to McHugh, in 2014 “Army lawyers” reviewed the rules and determined that WASPs and other  WWII veterans classified as “active duty designees” were not eligible for inurnment.  This decision included in excess of 250,000 Merchant Marines who served during WWII, as well as WASPs, a group of 1,074.

A life is a life is a life.  A life given in public service for our nation is a life that is due burial or inurnment at any national cemetery for veterans, whether operated by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs or the US Army.

Ninety-three (93) of the original 1,074 WASPs remain alive.

Thank you, Congress, for taking this act!

 

Darrin Webb is the Mississippi state economist.  He says that he has never studied the economic impact the gender wage gap has on the state of Mississippi.  “It’s just not been an issue that’s come up for us,”  Webb said.  “No one has requested any kind of analysis like that and frankly, we don’t have the time unless one is requested.”  (see http://www.sunherald.com/news/business/article 99990907.html)

Darrin Webb has been the State economist and Director of the University Research Center since July 2010.  His job requires that he be responsible for economic forecasting and soci0-economic policy analysis.  Among other things, he forecasts and monitors collections of state general fund revenue, and works closely with the Legislative Budget Office, the State Legislature, the Governor’s administration and other agencies on matters concerning the state’s economy and long range strategic planning.

The state economy is in about the worst shape I can remember it being in since I moved here in 1969.  And since women do not matter in this state, it is not surprising that no one has ever requested a study on the economic impact of the gender wage gap in Mississippi, nor that Mr. Webb would have the intellectual curiosity to think in terms of the economic impact of wage parity on state tax collection, on the consumer economy, and on social safety-nets that our legislators should be funding.

You know what?  I am going to send an email to the State Treasurer right now and ask her to make a request that Mr. Webb study the economic impact of the gender wage gap on our State.  Since during our last calendar year, there were 1,373,554 males and 1,471,104 females (48.3% of the population to 51.7%) it appears to me that inquiry would be not only reasonable, but warranted.

 

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