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Barlow Herget Commentary
Barlow Herget is a commentator and host on State Government Radio at Curtis Media. He has been a commentator on UNC public radio and an instructor in continuing education at Duke University. Herget was a Nieman Fellow ('70) at Harvard University, has worked for the Daily Press of Paragould, Ark., the Detroit Free Press, and the News & Observer of Raleigh. His articles have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times and numerous other publications. Contact him by email.
Against common sense and economic success
Thursday - 10/14/2010, 12:04pm EDT
This is one of those times that tries men's common sense.
The country hurdles toward the Nov. 2 Election and an economic train wreck. Those who look at the facts and recent history know what works to get the country going again. And it's not what the angry voters this year want.
They are mad at the government and they want less government spending, fewer government services and the government watchdogs for big banks, big oil companies, and big business neutered.
These anti-government slogans are simple to understand and they are red meat for the hungry crowds who are bitterly opposed to President Obama for personal and political reasons. But these angry taunts are not the directions to a stronger and prosperous economy.
Voters who are not blinded by racial and cultural distractions such as Mr. Obama's birthplace and victory mosques can see for themselves what works.
Last month, for example, a company in Durham, NC, announced that it would expand its manufacturing operations and hire 244 additional employees for a total of about 600 since last October.
The company, called Cree, makes LED lights that are more energy efficient than conventional lighting. At one time Cree considered moving its operations to China.
A big factor in Cree's $135 million expansion was federal stimulus money designed to create jobs in energy saving industries. The company also received state and local economic incentives worth $4 million if it meets its hiring goals.
This story has been repeated across the country as federal stimulus dollars pumped life into state school budgets, new road construction, water and sewer projects and private sector expansions such as Cree's.
Despite the "Hell no's" and "do nothing" record of the opposition, the stimulus worked. It stopped the 2008 economic freefall toward depression. The hard economic data show the country is growing, very slowly, but it's not contracting.
Senator Richard Burr, R-NC, voted against the federal stimulus plan. He continues his party's line to condemn federal spending, pandering to both the Rush Limbaugh/Glenn Beck know-nothings and the wealthy patrons opposed to paying their fair share of taxes. Senator Burr's opposition is not surprising.
It was surprising that Mr. Burr showed up at the Cree announcement to take credit for the hundreds of new jobs, smiling and hugging Democrats Senator Kay Hagan and Congressmen David Price and Brad Miller. The Democrats all voted for the stimulus.
Senator Burr's appearance spoke far louder than his campaign pronouncements that he recognizes federal spending in hard times helps create new jobs. Mr. Burr may be a hypocrite but he is not stupid.
He and his party, however, are risking the economic future of the country with their do nothing economic policies.
They go against common sense, and if they continue to do nothing after November, they will go against our pocketbooks.