Monday, November 1, 2010

More “great publicity” for Maine….

We don’t think very highly of USA Today, but  we ran across a copy of today’s edition when we were out dumpster diving for original news stories.

Lo and behold, the front page referred to a Section A article about Maine, entitled “Population drop-off vexes Maine residents.”  Click on the title link to read the entire article.

Here’s a revealing excerpt or two:

Maine was one of three states whose population declined from 2008 to 2009 (Michigan and Rhode Island were the others). For the first time in 209 years, neighboring New Hampshire has more people than Maine, according to Census estimates.

The drop in Maine stems mostly from young people leaving for school and jobs and the birth rate dropping as those left behind age. Maine's median age (half are younger, half are older) is 42.2 — oldest in the USA.

Nothing but encouragement there, right?  Then this:

Two-thirds of the state's 1.3 million people live in the lower third. The timber and paper mill industries that supported rural northern counties near Canada consolidated, and thousands of jobs disappeared.

"Clearly, the place has been grappling for 25 years with massive restructuring," says Mark Muro, director of policy for the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program.  (Oh yeah?  Could you give us 2 or 3 “clear” examples, Mark?)

Two quick comments on the article.  First, we can’t help but wonder what triggered the appearance of this item.  We’re not ready to believe that USA Today sends reporters out turning over rocks to find stories of note.  We believe, instead, that someone in the ruling class made a call or two, or had a PR consultant do it for them, to stimulate interest in the subject and the related reportage, which in all likelihood consists of contrived and pre-approved rhetoric.

Second, the various remedies mentioned by the individuals quoted in the article are the same old tired approaches that have put us here in the first place.  In a nutshell, use consultants, grants, and other government involvement , coupled with vacuous mantras like “the creative culture” as the rosy route to revival.

In so many words,their prescription for success boils down to nuggets like “networking and advertising” in new and better ways. So they sip wine in Camden and talk about such things.

Most who have stared our problems in the eye know there is a higher reality; that the most important priority is to remove our well-known, self-inflicted impediments to a viable, prosperous, and sustainable future for Maine and ALL its residents, from the very youngest to the very oldest.

But as I said before, “you get what you pay for” with consultants and their ilk, and those who spend OPM to employ them.

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