For those of you having trouble keeping track: Port deepening good; health care bad. Investing to maintain inanimate infrastructure good; investing to maintain human infrastructure bad. And any notion that the federal government’s reluctance to help Georgia in its port expansion might be affected by state officials who treat Washington as a foreign invader in every other context — wipe that thought from your mind, because cause and effect have no place here.
Once the Legislature ends this week and the election season begins in earnest, I suspect that we’ll also be reminded by the governor’s campaign commercials that according to one rather obscure business publication, Site Selection magazine, Georgia has made itself into the best state in the country in which to do business. In fact, Site Selection has been giving us love for more than a decade now, ranking Georgia in its Top Ten every year since 2002 and in its Top Five for eight of those years.
Now don’t get me wrong: That’s a good thing, at least potentially. But like our status as 50th out of 50 in state tax collections, our high standing with Site Selection means something only if it produces what it is supposed to produce, which is a lot of good-paying jobs. I mean, what’s the point of having an underfunded state government that can’t do its basic job unless it translates into economic growth, prosperity and a good quality of life, just as God and Arthur Laffer promised?
But it hasn’t. The cause hasn’t produced the promised effect. We still have the ninth-highest unemployment rate in the country, and our median household income is dropping faster than in most other states. In fact, one reason our tax collections per capita are lowest in the nation is not because of tax-cutting politicians or good stewardship, but because the economic recovery in Georgia — remember, the best state in the country to do business — has been slower than in most other states.
Cause and effect.