Thank goodness there's a sucker born every minute, otherwise the North Carolina Department of Commerce would already be out of business. Lurching from one lame promise to another under the leadership of Sharon Decker, the department is a study in irrelevance and ineptitude.
Most galling, of course, is the foundation of lies on which the department is building its future. Just as Republicans in Raleigh have made it illegal to consider science when it comes to climate change, Sharon Decker ignores the reality of our state's crumbling workforce when she claims the unemployment rate is dropping. That lie has been thoroughly debunked by facts.
ROCKY MOUNT — N.C. Department of Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker told community leaders Monday that North Carolina is making strides by reducing the unemployment rate, creating jobs and making the state more economically competitive.
North Carolina is doing no such thing. On the contrary, the state is moving in exactly the wrong direction by gutting public education and crushing middle-class families under the weight of an increased tax burden. All so millionaires can stash more money away.
Decker also promised rural communities that they won't be left behind, a promise much easier said than done. The hard truth is, rural communities depend on government spending as a backbone of their economies (think schools, hospitals, military facilities, community colleges, etc.) and the McCrory administration is doing everything it can to cut that spending across the board. The "new" Rural Economic Development Division within the N.C. Department of Commerce is an ineffective bandaid on a gaping wound.
"The thinking was that we need rural North Carolina at the center of state government’s focus,” Decker said. "In the Department of Commerce, we recognize that our priority must be with rural areas of the state because urban centers are going to continue to grow. We’ve got to be sure they stay healthy, that North Carolina stays competitive economically and that we focus our energy and efforts on the rural parts of the state.”
That was the thinking? Really? And just what are rural communities getting from all this focused energy and effort? A second-rate version of commercial employment websites to connect people with jobs? The promise of expanding Internet access across the state when the legislature is shutting down municipal initiatives with an iron fist? The outsourcing of industry recruiting to a "public private partnership" that will be riddled with special interest conflicts and graft?
Finally, Decker shared her five tenets that provide a framework for economic health — health care, education, economic development, the arts, tourism and culture, and quality-of-life. She said focusing on those areas will improve communities across the state.
But just look at what we're getting from all that attention. In education, we have teachers leaving the state right and left. In healthcare, we have the gutting of Medicaid. In quality-of-life, we have the trashing of our environment.
Please, Secretary Decker. North Carolina has had just about all it can stand of your "focus on those areas."