Upstate's Permanent Recession

22 Sep

An excerpt from Barack Obama’s speech yesterday in Troy, NY:

And I know that here in Troy, you want and need that chance after so many years of hard times.  Communities like this one were once the heart of America’s manufacturing strength.  But over the last few decades, you’ve borne the brunt of a changing economy which has seen many manufacturing plants close in the face of global competition.  So while all of America has been gripped by the current economic crisis, folks in Troy and upstate New York have been dealing with what amounts to almost a permanent recession for years:  an economic downturn that’s driven more and more young people from their hometowns.

That’s true for all of upstate, and it’s nice when politicians don’t come to town and pretend that everything’s great.  What’s also significant is that Obama rejects the central tenet of Reaganism, which holds that government is always a problem, and can never be a solution:

I also know that while a lot of people have come here promising better news, that news has been hard to come by, despite the determined efforts of leaders who are here today and many who are not.  Part of the reason is that while people in this city work hard to meet their responsibilities, I have to confess that some in Washington haven’t always lived up to theirs.

For too long, as old divisions and special interests reigned, Washington has shown neither the inclination, nor the ability, to tackle our toughest challenges.  Meanwhile, businesses were saddled with ever-rising health care costs; the economy was weakened by ever-growing dependence on foreign oil; our investment in cutting-edge research declined; our schools fell further short; growth focused on short-term gains and fueled by debt and reckless risk, which led to a cycle of precipitous booms and painful busts.

And meanwhile, too many in Washington stood by and let it happen.  Now, after so many years of failing to act, there are those who now suggest that there’s really not much the government can or should do to make a difference; that what we’ve seen in places like Troy is inevitable; that somehow, the parts of our country that helped us lead in the last century don’t have what it takes to help us lead in this one.  And I’m here to tell you that that is just flat out wrong.  What we have here in this community is talented people, entrepreneurs, world-class learning institutions.  The ingredients are right here for growth and success and a better future.

These young people are testimony to it.  You are proving that right here in the Hudson Valley.  Students here are training full time while working part time at GE Energy in Schenectady, becoming a new generation of American leaders in a new generation of American manufacturing.  IBM is partnered with the University at Albany; their partnership in nanotechnology is helping students train in the industries in which America has the potential to lead.  Rensselaer is partnering not only with this institution but with businesses throughout the Tech Valley.  And early next year, Hudson Valley Community College’s state-of-the-art TEC-SMART training facility is set to open side-by-side with Global Foundry’s coming state-of-the-art semiconductor plant.

So we know that Upstate New York can succeed, just like we know that there are pockets in the Midwest that used to be hubs of manufacturing — they’re now retooling; they’re reinventing themselves.  We know that can happen.  We know that in the global economy — where there’s no room for error and there’s certainly no room for wasted potential — America needs you to succeed.

So as we emerge from this current economic crisis, our great challenge will be to ensure that we don’t just drift into the future, accepting less for our children, accepting less for America.  We have to choose instead what past generations have done:  to shape a brighter future through hard work and innovation.  That’s how we’ll not only recover, but that’s how we’ll also build stronger than before:  strong enough to compete in the global economy; strong enough to avoid the cycles of boom and bust that have wreaked so much havoc; strong enough to create and support the jobs of the future in the industries of the future.

Every industrialized democracy funds research and training to supplement and support private industry and its future innovation – its future viability.  Upstate New York needs some direction and a strategy to rise out of its perpetual recession.  Lots of politicians have come and gone, promising to change things.  Maybe someday the promises will turn into action.

4 Responses to “Upstate's Permanent Recession”

  1. Hank September 22, 2009 at 10:00 am #

    Read your own words Alan—NYS Government—HOW HAS IT BEEN A SOLUTION—TO ANYTHING???
    Reagan was right, not that you’ll ever see past the liberal cataracts to admit it.

  2. Chris from OP September 22, 2009 at 5:34 pm #

    You can use medicinal marijuana to help with liberal cataracts.

  3. Dan September 22, 2009 at 5:40 pm #

    Government is the solution! To the problem of economic growth. And if the problem is too big for government to fix, estanlish an authority. That will clinch it.

  4. Dan September 22, 2009 at 5:41 pm #

    or even establish…

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