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National Economic Reform’s: Department Of Economic Development

September 24th, 2017

Not since FDR has the United States been faced with the enormity of rebuilding America’s economy and infrastructure. Today our economy as well as the nations infrastructure is putting this nations security and stability in grave danger. Our economy today is already on the verge of falling into the abyss by factors very reminiscent of the events that led to the Great Depression of the 1930′s. And, yes another housing bubble like the one we just had in 2008 is poised to burst. But, you wouldn’t know it the way Trump is citing his most illustrious accomplishments and of course the media is right behind with their bogus reporting of the unemployment numbers. What we are faced with today is that the United States is still woefully unprepared to handle any financial calamity.To top it off our “Wizards” on capital hill and Trump in the White House continue to be oblivious to the calamity of either a infrastructure disaster or the continued economic woes that are keeping millions of American’s languishing in financial devastation would do to this nation.

All ready in practically every city across the country there is a Department Of Economic Development. The primary focus of this department is to generate more business growth within their respective city. In doing so more tax revenue would flow into these cities to support the mandated public services that are now required by law. Without business growth as in so many instances today all across the country city budget shortfalls only exasperate an ongoing economic domino effect of financial hardship for all. There are many factors that have to be implemented to secure business growth to increase and expand the tax base within each city all across the country. Without more educational venues offered, accessible reliable public transportation available, affordable decent housing and all the other logistics that make it not only conducive but productive for business development in cities and towns business growth will continue to decline. The tax base will be put on the burden of the home owner which only creates more economic hardships for all.

When The Department Of Commerce and Labor was created back 1903 and subsequently consolidated in 1913 into the Department of Commerce the only time that that agency has managed to spur real economic growth was through the intervention of FDR. The numerous public works projects that FDR implemented facilitated Americas victory in World War II and propelled the United States to it’s greatest economic expansion following the War through to the end of the 1960′s. What has happened since are a number of policy changes that have undermined the economic and financial opportunities of so many millions of Americans. Consequently, we have inadvertently created the greatest wealth disparity gap in history, lost almost all of our manufacturing capabilities, and reduced the middle class to almost extinction. All this with the fact that our educational levels have plummeted so that the United States isn’t even on the radar sort of speaking in global educational standards. In essence our graduates are are not fully prepared for whatever jobs that are available today.

Now, when the economic calamity from 2008 financial crisis hit the fallout is still keeping the United States economy stagnant at best. Just a few years ago the Hostess Corporation closed so many bakeries they laid off over 18,000 employees just in time for the holidays. In Florida of that same year over 2,000 state workers suffered the same fate. Today, the retail industry is dying forcing more people onto the unemployment lines. With Trump in the White House and our Republican led Congress have done actually nothing to spark a rejuvenation in employment numbers. The media still fails to tell the truth about the sad fact that unemployment and underemployment have decimated our nations ability to prosper. This is another reason why there is so much agitation especially within the Black community. In every city and town across the country the African American unemployment rate is more than triple that of what the media is reporting.

The reality has yet to hit home to our elected officials to the true crisis in the country. The lack of opportunity for millions of Americans to be able to earn a living wage is staggering. And, yet too many officials really have turned a blind eye to what is really going on. When we have riots in the streets instead of workers in factories, or behind counters, or in so many other occupations is a tell tale sign that governmental policies for the past 40 years have undermined the American workers ability to prosper. When we have CEO’s raking in huge exorbitant salaries and corporate profits at record levels while the rest of us languish with starvation wages or worse yet having to rely on meager unemployment benefits that don’t last creates a tempest that is only exasperated by our elected officials failure to implement policies that would propel the United States into brighter and more secure future. What we have today is that our Republican led Governors, members of Congress, as well as our infamous President can’t quite grasp what they have done and continue to do by not ushering policies that actually put more Americans back to work with living wages much like what FDR did.

From all indications since the election it is quite apparent that those in Washington still, like so many Republicans, can’t grasp the reality facing millions of Americans today. The Department of Commerce has done some semblance of trying to reassemble economic growth but this Administration still does not have a definitive plan of direction both short and long term that would effectively curtail the events like the ones that unfolded when the Hostess Corporation closed it’s doors. It is time to restructure the Department of Commerce and re institute an expanded Economic Development Administration so that the Department of Commerce would now become The Department Of Economic Development and incorporate all essential posts that would felicitate economic and financial growth across the country.

Currently there are too many duplications in practically every cabinet post where much needed resources are now being diverted from reaching the areas that need it most. It is quite apparent that steps have to be taken to reform and consolidate especially the current Department of Commerce so that the resources actually will go where they will do the most good. This includes placing the emphasis on Economic Development with a major emphasis on equalizing our trade deficit, investing in infrastructure restoration, securing our energy grid, focus on reducing the unemployment numbers especially in African American communities and establishing living wage standards all across the country. Not just raising the federal minimum wage either.

When most think of our trade deficit many question why China is cornering the market? In practically every shelf in practically every store across the country there are so many items that really are made in China. But, that doesn’t show the bigger picture. When in reality it is not all those imports. Sure, they contribute much to our lack of manufacturing jobs but what else is curtailing our economic growth is right here in the United States? Education for one thing.Today’s educational levels hare a far cry from what the US had back in the 1950 through the 1960′s. The standards in education have made high school graduates not being able to compete for the jobs that are available today. Education of our youth and young adults is vital in turning the tide toward improving the unemployment numbers.

In order to answer why China is gaining economically we have to take a close look at our imports which have for the past 40 years have been far exceeding our exports. Not to mention what NAFTA continues to do in regards to our loss of overall productivity. We have to remember that right after NAFTA was signed in 1993 our job losses were staggering and the effect is still being felt today. Today, our whole economic scenario is almost on the same parallel as the 2008 housing crisis. The pervasive attitude among too many CEO’s forget what Henry Ford did so many decades ago. He strengthened the middle class while today’s CEO’s have only weakened the middle class to the point of almost no return. A recent report shows that wages have continued to stagnate. And adjusted for inflation today’s wages have shrunk drastically. The sad fact that today millions that are still working have seen their earning decrease while everything else the cost keep increasing. This retardation of wages all across the country is the sad reality of today. We have to remember that the health and stability of any country lies with the majority of people earning living wages. The more people with enough disposable income to spend, pay down debt, and to save at least 10% annually is the greatest economic boost for any country. In essence the fulfillment of The Williams Theory of Economic Evolution. That is not the case today of what is happening in America.

What the Department of Economic Development has to do is address our trade agreements and reinforce not on free trade but equal trade along with putting higher tariffs on goods coming in from China, Mexico, Canada and even Germany to name a few. This along with coordinating with other cabinet departments on a unified plan of Direction using National Economic Reform as the guide to implement changes, concepts, and policies that will in fact create the environment that is conducive for more business growth. This along with creating economic opportunities that should be available to every single American. Another sad reality of today is the fact thousands of Americans have already left the country for other countries just because the economic opportunities are more plentiful outside the United States. When people find financial and economic roadblocks right here in America where the land of opportunity has shut it’s doors in so many faces is a travesty that has to be immediately rectified.

The job at hand for the Department Of Economic Development is to expand the tax base all across the country. Work with all other agencies and Departments primarily the Department of Education to retool our educational standards to equip our youth and young adults with the knowledge and the tools necessary so that they can become employable in the jobs of the 21st century. This Department is mandated to rebuild our infrastructure, roads, bridges, schools, and other buildings that poise a threat to the safety of all. To work with the Department of Energy to update our energy grid to the highest standards necessary so that no amount of catastrophe will render the United States defenseless by being without energy sources to power our country. This department is mandated to work with the EPA to improve water and air qualities so that every community is furnished with enough clean fresh water so that another episode of what happened and is happening in Flint Michigan will never happen again any where in the United States. The jobs are enormous but to ignore the realities facing our country today put the United States and the rest of the world in jeopardy. These are the purposes and goals of the United States Department of Economic Development.

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How a Social Impact Calculator on Aging Can Help Your Community

September 24th, 2017

Many of our communities have been involved with Community Needs Assessments, Community Health Needs Assessments, Community Economic Development Plans, and ongoing planning for the built environment. All of these planning lenses are helpful ways to look at communities, and build for the future. One of the most important lenses to use for community planning for the next 10 to 20 years is the projected impact of aging on our communities, counties and states. What will is mean for a state to move from being 39th in proportion of older adults in 2010, to being 4th by 2030? What does it mean for a county to have a population shift that includes an increase of older adults by over 100% in the next 10 years, along with a projected reduction of people under 40 years old?

Understanding the Demographic Trend

The demographic trend has been called by many names, such as the “Age Wave,” or “Silver Tsunami,” with arguments in meetings and on blogs about whether those terms are helpful or pejorative, descriptive or ageist. In addition, some people find the terms “elderly” difficult, while others find “seniors” to be patronizing. Once people have dealt with parsing the grammatical minefield, then the most important issues are to understand both the demographic trend and other substantive factors.

Although a few in the field indicate that the aging of the population is rather slow and easily absorbed, the vast majority of experts agree that this is a significant, fast-moving trend that will not be easily absorbed. Research I’ve conducted has covered everything from future health professional shortages and health system gaps to the built environment, funding and policy trends. The potential impact of the aging of our population on communities and states is significant. It will require proactive, sustained responses at community, state and national levels.

Some communities and states are better positioned to respond to this trend than others.

Impact Also Depends on a Few Other Key Factors

The ability of groups to effectively respond depends upon a number of other key factors. Although the demographic trend is the primary issue, other important factors impacting our ability to respond include the following:

  • Overall community health;
  • Poverty levels, average and median incomes (especially for middle aged and elderly);
  • Local municipal budgets, economic ratings, and taxing capacity;
  • Legislation, policies, and funding related to both aging and community development;
  • Regional infrastructure and built environment.

The impact of the demographic trend is also shaped by the state of community and regional planning already in place to deal with the impact of aging upon our communities. Leadership and citizen engagement are also important factors that could help drive and mobilize initiatives. Leaders can and should respond. The issues are complex, but not overwhelming. However, they need to be addressed proactively.

How a Social Calculator can Predict the Potential Impact of Aging for Communities and States

Many of these factors have been analyzed by our team through a number of aging related research and planning projects over the past few years. We are now completing an Aging Social Impact Calculator that can provide an initial scan of the local environment, and the state environment. It looks at key factors that shape a county’s or state’s social, economic, and community health.

Research projects that I’ve recently completed demonstrate that the Social Determinants of Health, health rankings, economic benchmarks and policy issues either help communities and states to move forward, or serve as additional challenges.

Social Determinants. The Social Determinants shape us as individuals, families and communities. They include things such as family income, jobs, poverty and financial assets. Income, assets, poverty, and unemployment have been demonstrated to be some of the most important shapers of family and community health, health disparities, and health equity. Race and ethnicity have been seen as extremely important by the World Health Organization, U.S. federal government bureaus, and the health research and funding community. Individual, family and community educational levels are also significant. Taken together, or aggregated, one finds community snapshots that reflect the local economy, jobs and poverty; racial and ethnic mix; and educational levels. They help to predict how our lives will be shaped in the future.

Community and State Health Rankings. Communities and states are rated on their overall health by many research groups. One of the key national ratings used is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJ) annual County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. They provide excellent state and county ratings based upon an analysis using more than a few dozen separate indicators. That ranking provides extremely important information to help determine whether an area faces significant health disparities and inequities. Rankings can tell planners whether community health challenges will pose additional difficulties that negatively impact the community’s ability to respond to the aging trend; or whether the positive community health will facilitate communities to implement strategies to respond. These health rankings can help inform plans that more effectively address key issues.

Economic Benchmarks. Communities are very much shaped by large and small economic trends. Short and long-term economic ratings provide a picture of community economic health. Counties and states with strong economic ratings have more ability to respond to these challenges than do those with a weak economic picture. Communities that face a loss of jobs and capital, and a diminishing tax base, are not as well positioned to respond to the Age Wave as communities that have a different economic picture.

Other factors that can also help predict the impact of the demographic trend include whether or not a region has a net population loss. Areas that are losing population also begin to lose jobs and infrastructure over time, unless this can be proactively addressed.

Laws, policies, legislative initiatives and funding priorities and strategies can also shape how well a local community or state is able to respond to this trend. Policies and funding that support economic development, the built environment, and services for older adults provide an environment that facilitates a community or county’s proactive response to this demographic trend.

The Power of Collective Impact

The combined, or collective impact of (1) demographic trends, (2) Social Determinants, (3) health rankings, (4) local and state economies, and (5) policies together shape a region’s sustainability. They also can serve as general predictors of how hard hit a community may be by the aging of the population. Taken together, these factors provide a picture of what may happen for communities, counties and states. They help us understand current and projected collective impact.

Aging Social Impact Calculator

The Aging Social Impact Calculator looks at states and counties, and provides an initial prediction about the level of impact you may expect from the aging of the population in your region. Some of the most important benchmarks that make up the predictive picture include:

  • Demographic Factors
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • County Health Ranking (Health Outcomes and Health Risk Behaviors)
  • County Economic Picture
  • Policy and Funding Framework

Working with a Predictor

Any social impact calculator has predictive capabilities. Many economic calculators have been used successfully by the World Bank, the Low Income Investment Fund, and others. The Robert Wood Johnson’s County Health Rankings and Roadmaps and state level health department profiles (like the New Mexico Community Snapshots) provide pictures of community health that capture both the present and the near future. The Aging Social Impact Calculator offers snapshots of projected impact on a community, and the community’s strengths and weaknesses in that will affect its ability to respond. It provides a helpful picture of local and state capacity, which can help leaders to choose priorities that fit their capacity to respond.

Predictors offer a holistic general picture that can serve as an important starting point for communities and states to respond to the needs of older adults. They serve as broad frameworks or roadmaps. Once a predictor profile is developed, then community leaders can look deeper into the community to:

  • Understand and address key issues;
  • Choose priorities, and create the size and scope of a response that fit community capacity;
  • Build upon community strengths and assets;
  • Reduce risks;
  • Create plans that bring stakeholders together and leverage resources.

Every state and community has its own unique assets that can be utilized to respond to this issue, which are complex, and difficult to measure with a social impact calculator. These include the rich family and social networks, community leaders, volunteers, faith communities and civic organizations that represent significant community assets.

1. The term “Age Wave” was coined by Ken Dychtwald decades ago to capture the coming demographic trend that was then on the horizon, and is now a reality.

2. Social Determinants of Health were developed by the World Health Organization, and utilized by major institutions (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kaiser Foundation) and key research organizations throughout the U.S. to deal with community health in a holistic way.