Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Opportunity Comes Knocking In Eastern Carolina

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

The Beverly Hillbillies starring the late actor Buddy Ebsen ran on the CBS Television Network from 1962-1971. Jed Clampett (Ebsen) and his family were Hillbillies who didn’t have two rocks to rub together. While out hunting for food on his land Jed shoots, missing his target but hitting a spot in the ground where oil suddenly erupts. This accidental discovery of “black gold or Texas tea” makes the Clampetts instant millionaires and they move from the mountains to California.

Well, we may not have any hillbillies living in eastern North Carolina but many can identify with tough economic times. It started in the 1980’s when the textile mills began to close impacting towns like Williamston, Windsor, Ahoskie, Plymouth, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Goldsboro and Kinston. And then in the 1990’s, tobacco, the cash crop for generations of east North Carolinians was virtually destroyed by the U. S. governments over regulation of that industry. While tobacco is still grown here the states yield pales in comparison to its heyday.

In the late ’90s as part of the tobacco settlement package worked out between the individual states and the major cigarette manufacturers, North Carolina decided to use some of its proceeds to establish the Golden Leaf Foundation. A significant amount of this money was to be used to revitalize the economies of those communities where tobacco was once king.

Unfortunately the foundation-like much in Raleigh- has become politicized with appointees who disburse funds to pet projects around the state. Today it’s nothing more than a political slush fund.

When an economic decline begins to settle in, it is like a cancer spreading everywhere. First the jobs go, and then the downtown areas start to deteriorate, highlighted by vacant storefronts. Often the schools follow suit as tax money begins to dry up- taxes increase for those left to foot the bills. The vibrancy of such a community-an attraction and sense of community pride in the past-is replaced by an aura of gloom, despair and hopelessness.

The government cannot solve these problems alone as evidenced by what has happened with the Golden Leaf Foundation’s disbursements of “awards.” Legislators in Raleigh can’t seem to resist bastardizing even the best of legislation’s original intent by politicizing and compromising the original purpose to best serve those in power’s personal needs and agenda. If they merely throw a bone here and there the folks will be happy. Two of those bones have become boners in the form of the Global Transpark in Kinston and the Randy Parton Theatre in Roanoke Rapids. Both to this point are unmitigated financial disasters.

With many parts of the east on life-support, state government must keep increasing social programs. Basic sustenance may be provided, but no opportunity for the future is offered. Washington can’t print money and Raleigh can’t give it away fast enough to folks here who need assistance. What eastern North Carolina desperately lacks are jobs. Only the private sector can provide the kind of help that’s needed.

Nationally, the energy crisis contributes to escalating unemployment and economic hardship. It’s even worse in eastern North Carolina where unemployment was already high.

The U. S. Senate is now considering legislation called the Gasoline Price Reduction Act of 2008, supported by North Carolina Republican Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr. This act would promote domestic development of energy, increasing supplies by safely producing oil off our shores. If passed, off shore drilling would be allowed but only at a minimum of 50 miles off the coast. And most of the known resources for oil and natural gas lay between 30 and 40 miles out, according to Dr. Roy Cordato of the John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Accommodating environmentalists wary of spills and beach lovers with their scenic concerns were part of the reasoning for establishing a 50 mile limit. But retired Navy Lt. Commander James Robison of Edenton tells me that from the bridge of a carrier under the most optimum weather conditions one can see no further than 7.5 miles; so much for the scenic concerns.

And as for the environmentalists who fear coastal spills, they should be consoled in the knowledge that during Hurricane Katrina oil platforms with new and improved safety technology were able to cap the oil at the ocean bottom before the storm hit the coast of Louisiana with its full fury. In fact the spill ratio for off shore drilling is down to .001 percent according to information provided by American’s for Prosperity. They estimate North Carolina can have the oil out of the ground in 12 months.

If Congress passes the Gasoline Price Reduction Act of 2008 it will create jobs throughout the eastern part of the state with the eventual building of pipelines and storage and transportation facilities; and then what about refineries and the other facilities necessary for processing and distribution? In addition there are manufacturers of plastics and other by-products that could relocate here as well. Instead of boom- to- bust as we experienced with cotton and tobacco we have the potential of going from bust- to- boom.

Gubernatorial candidates Pat McCrory and Beverly Perdue have different views on this all important issue. McCrory is in favor of deep sea exploration and development off the shores of North Carolina within the federal guidelines mandated. Perdue is against it.

Beverly Perdue is from New Bern in eastern North Carolina but is part of a mind set in Raleigh that wants to continue business as usual. That is simply unacceptable.

Republicans at all levels of government want to drill- the Democrats want to stall. Voters concerned about energy costs need to weigh in with their elected representatives at the state and federal level now.

Unlike Jed Clampett, those in eastern North Carolina don’t have to rely on luck to turn their fortunes. They just need to vote-and vote wisely. Their future and that of America depends on it.

Good article. It is on point to recognize the huge potential for NC of off shore drilling, especially with the expectation of natural gas for our area. We could use much of that ourselves right here in Eastern Carolina.

Bob makes an important point when he exposes the dismal track record of government “development”. Government has never had a good track record of picking winners and losers. The most important aspect is to get government out of stopping development. Bev Purdue’s insistence that no drilling will occur is typical of the desire of Democrats to block and control business.

We have had enough of that in the last 40 years. All of our problems are a result of socialist control of business. Free enterprise is the best solution to provide goods at cost effective prices. We really ought to try that again.


At 10:20 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

When was this written - how can bringing the aircraft manufacturing and technology business in the form of half a billion dollars and 1000 plus jobs be a boner? Stay up with the news buddy.

Great point on off shore drilling though - we will need to energy in Eastern NC to power all the higher end manufacturing and research plus all other energy demands that will come with the influx of high paid jobs brought to Eastern NC care of the NCGTP.

At 11:43 PM , Blogger Dean Stephens said...

I believe that there is a promise of 1000 jobs but I am told they don't exist yet. However $225 million of the promised half a billion dollar investment is from North Carolina and Golden Leaf funds, not Spirit Aero Systems, the promisor of the jobs. Are you sure that tax payers should be bribing companies to come to Global Transpark? Wish I could get government to fund half of a new half billion dollar plant for me. I am also not sure if this deal allows you to be quite so condescending in your conclusion Bob is wrong so far. At this point it is still a boondoggle for tax payers not in the immediate vacinity. We will see if the new promises are any better than past promises, most of which proved false.

At 11:45 PM , Blogger Dean Stephens said...

And by the way "van", I don't allow anonymous postings on my blogs so if you want to continue to post, identify yourself. Or expect to be deleted next time.


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