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July 29, 2014
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editorial

The beginning of the conversation


There is no question that job creation must take a prominent place in any discussion of what businesses or industries it might make sense to promote in our area—or indeed any area. But there are other factors that must be weighed as well, and it seems to us that, all too often, the “jobs” card is played as a kind of trump designed to shut down discussion of the pros and cons of any particular business development.

We’ve seen it happen with regard to casinos, in which case it is used as an excuse to brush off not only environmental damage but factors such as infrastructure costs, social damage and requirements for an expanded criminal justice system. We are seeing it with regard to natural gas drilling, with its environmental and social costs, stress on roads and emergency response systems, conflicts with traditional economic mainstays like tourism and so forth.

We absolutely concede the importance of providing jobs, but we believe that the conversation should only begin, not end, with the contention that such-and-such a business will bring in a certain number of jobs. Other questions that need to be asked are: How high is the quality of the jobs in terms of pay and benefits, and will they go to county residents? Are there alternative industries or businesses that could be attracted that would provide higher quality jobs beyond the construction phrase, and employ in-area workers over the long haul? And even if a business actually does bring in a certain number of permanent jobs, will there be long-term costs to infrastructure, social fabric, environment and existing industries that could, in the long run, more than offset any benefit from short-term job creation?

There is even a question as to whether the promised jobs will actually be delivered. As pointed out in a couple of recent letters, the number of jobs promised related to the Millennium Pipeline was 17; the current number of jobs is 0. Similarly, the Monticello Motor Club was supposed to have created 25 jobs. The actual number is eight.

But if a business provides any jobs at all, isn’t that better than nothing? Well, maybe it’s better than nothing if the only alternative is nothing. But that’s not the case: we can also proactively seek to encourage businesses or industries that can be shown to provide as many or jobs of higher quality, while fitting in with a sustainable model that provides less stress on the environment and human infrastructure.

In this regard, we find particularly interesting a recent Brookings Institution study showing that the so-called “clean economy,” defined as sectors that produce goods and services with environmental benefit, now generates more jobs in this nation than fossil fuels. As reported in a news brief last week, it concluded that these clean jobs not only outnumbered those in the fossil-fuel related area, but also included better paying jobs for lower-skilled workers, so called “green collar” jobs.

If we can choose between an industry that is recognized to pollute, to contribute to global warming and to cause infrastructure damage, but creates jobs, and one that is environmentally friendly, creates more jobs—and just incidentally is the wave of the future rather than a 20th century dinosaur like fossil fuels—why on earth would we choose the former?

We can see a little piece of how the clean economy is becoming effective in Sullivan County, where New York State’s Green Jobs – Green New York program is now being promoted (see page 5). In the program, homeowners get a free NYSERDA audit resulting in a list of specific measures that will help them save money on energy. Local contractors are recommended who can do the work, and if the homeowner in fact decides to implement the upgrade, up to $13,000 in low-interest loans is available. Payments on the loans are made in low monthly amounts that, in the program’s experience so far, have been consistently lower than the amount of money saved on purchasing energy.

The people who do the auditing and installation are local. The families that save money are local. The industry is clean and sustainable. This, surely, is smart job creation. It shows us that boosting employment doesn’t always have to be a negative tradeoff in which we have to give away pieces of our environment, our infrastructure, our social fabric, or our future. Next time somebody tells you that we must put up with the degradation of our quality of life for the sake of creating jobs, remember that that does not have to be the end of the conversation.

Tourism is an economic mainstay?

Could this paper please explain to me who the hell is making a decent living due to tourism other than the camp owners, and maybe a few guide outfits? The tourism here sucks. It provides low paying seasonal jobs. It doesn't even fill the local hotels other than a few camp parent visiting days which turn the roads into a traffic nightmare. Why don't you just admit that you want to keep the local population poor and destitute so the weekenders and vacationers can have an inexpensive vacation destination stock full of desperate chumps to weed whack and scrub toilets for minimum wage? What's the impact of all that camp sewage into your precious water? Answer: you don't know and don't care. The level of hypocrisy this paper displays is staggering. Good luck with your green collar nonsense.

Same old song.

Maybe the gas and oil ads in this paper help pay the wages of the paper's employees? You are using fossil fuels and that alone will lead to the extraction of the natural gas from our ground. Dreams are nice, but we must deal with reality, although this paper is not especially fond of doing so.

actually

it's more like you not fond of anyone else's reality if it threatens big gas/ big oil profit margins, or your own. Be honest with yourself, don't attack others out of projection. The only "dream" here is yours, and you attack anyone who threatens it, talks about reality, or cares about something besides lining your pockets.