In my previous post, I talked about how modern manufacturing no longer relies on people to do the “grunt work” of manufacturing, but instead on mechanization. That’s also true of many other industries, and the fewer jobs that they provide require a more educated, flexible workforce than was the case in the past. That would be bad enough, but there’s another reason why so many of the areas that voted for Donald Trump won’t see the much hoped for job growth they’ve been promised: Infrastructure.
If you listen to Republicans, you’d hear that what businesses really want is low taxes, no or weak unions, few regulations, and cheap labor. The problem? Actual business and job growth statistics don’t show that. In fact, the states and areas that led the way in job growth were often the opposite of those factors, while the areas that have all of them had virtually no growth – or even declines – in jobs. Using the Republican standards, Mississippi should be a mecca for businesses, yet it’s rated by most business magazines as the worst, or among the worst, places to do business.
The reason for that, and the reason so many of the rural and Republican controlled areas haven’t shared in the economic recovery is actually fairly simple: They lack the infrastructure modern businesses require. The areas that have it are booming. I was struck by that reading this CNN report from rural Kentucky, about the “poorest white town in America.” Yes, they all voted for Trump, because they hoped he would bring jobs to their area. They’re going to be disappointed. Why?
“We’re an hour from the closest interstate,” says Cole, the EMT who is also out on the roads daily. “The roads here are bad. We have two lane roads.”
The internet is another problem. Cell reception is hit or miss, and many homes and schools only got decent internet access in the past year or two. The local government is trying to find people jobs they can do at home on computers, but that requires reliable internet.
Add in a major drug problem, poor education levels, and a lack of higher education institutions in the area, and most businesses are going to give this area a pass. As I pointed out in my post on coal country, the coal jobs that used to exist there aren’t going to return either.
Modern businesses, and modern manufacturing have certain requirements. They need access to transportation networks. Good roads, railroads, airports, and ports. They need high quality internet and cell service. They need higher educational institutions nearby, along with good schools. All those things exist in the areas that have been experiencing the economic recovery – and even a boom – while they don’t in the areas that haven’t.
The harsh reality is that businesses are still going to locate where the infrastructure is what they’re looking for, and it isn’t going to be your area. You see, President Obama and the Democratic Party wanted to build all those things for you, but the people you keep electing on the national and state level kept shutting it down. Which is why it doesn’t matter what President Trump promised you – or what you thought he promised – when he ran. The brutal truth is that any jobs created won’t come to you. You’ll be left out once again, and this time, many of the programs that have kept you going will be taken away. Which will be the other harsh reality: It’s what you voted for.