Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

WED 4-26-6 EDITORIAL >> Psst! Donít pass this on

Let us hope that the vested boys at the Club for Growth in New York or that little band of far-right Republicans in western Arkansas who call themselves the conscience of the party do not get hold of last monthís Arkansas employment statistics. Pray that they do not read past the headlines.

If they do they will be calling our governor a liberal again and accusing him of being an apostle of big government, unfit to be the standard bearer of the party in the presidential election of 2008. Gov. Huckabee disputes that and calls himself the most conservative governor in Arkansas history, the all-time champion of limited government.

The unemployment rate in March edged up to 4.7 percent, but that is not so bad. If it does not mask tens of thousands of people who simply have given up the job search for one reason or another and unless you are one of the luckless ones who are out of work, 4.7 percent historically is not a horrendous number.

But deep in the columns of numbers and percentages were those two unsettling categories where the trends continue unabated, month after month and, since the mid-1990s, year after year.

Manufacturing jobs are disappearing in Arkansas, but government work is increasing.

Another 5,500 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Arkansas in the past 12 months. But state and local government employment keeps climbing and climbing, adding 900 to reach another record, 211,500.

Huckabee cannot control the forces that are responsible for the steady loss of better-paying factory jobs, and if he has become the employer of last resort, as the statistics suggest, let the Club for Growth suggest how he might do better.
The estate tax on the very rich in Arkansas, one of its goals, has already been repealed, although no thanks to Huckabee.
The popular theory was that rich heirs would use the savings to build factories and hire people, but it has not happened.