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“The property which every man has is his own labour, as it is the original foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred and inviolable.” — Adam Smith in An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

Over the last few weeks, a few truths have emerged from the fog of my many anxieties about the world we are leaving to our kids. These particular truths have to do with Kentucky jobs. “Jobs” because we never speak anymore of work or careers or vocations or — heaven forfend — passions. Just “jobs” or “workforce development” (read “employee development”) as though the best anyone could ever do is work for The Man.

Can We At Least Get MORE Kentucky “Jobs”?

The big question is: what does Kentucky offer industry looking for a spot? That the Commonwealth is not competitive is an established fact. Not only does Kentucky regularly lose out on prospective industry, some pick up their stuff and move to friendlier states!

Right to work is a major drawback (we don’t have it), as is Kentucky’s business and personal tax structure. We are so backwards, the Kentucky Chamber was actually criticized for “resisting” new business taxes. Sheesh.

Neither Beshear nor the General Assembly appear to care one way or the other– they have jobs. They are content to suck at the federal teat, debt be damned. That will take care of itself… somehow… whatever. They’re busy counting campaign contributions and wondering if they can get away with increasing their take in 2013. That’s really the point of raising taxes on the locals, which they are now eagerly pursuing.

What does Kentucky produce?

The two main categories are agriculture and manufacturing. Horse racing, tobacco and coal are dying… the first a natural death (killed by competition), the other two killed by government. NAFTA killed off the clothing industry here.

Information on current industry here is hard to come by — I probably just don’t know where to look. There’s this from the National Association of Manufacturers. And this 2009 data from Where do we find current data?

Kentucky’s Other Crops/Products:

  • Industrial food farms: Big Dairy, Big Pork (there’s a pun in there somewhere), Big Beef, Big Chicken ‘N Egg
  • The USDA and EPA are also paying farmers not to grow food but to allow native grasses to grow back in their fields… This smacks of Agenda 21, frankly.
  • War: the war industry is booming: bullets and bombs, war machinery (tanks, airplanes, drones), plus accoutrements (matching hats, boots, tents, backpacks, water bottles, etc.). And, of course, the military itself. Young people join the army today not necessarily out of patriotic fervor but many simply because it’s a job.
  • What else?

Economic Development Officers (EDOs) Found in Every City and Town

Small business is the engine of prosperity. This has been true since the beginning of time. Today’s EDOs, heard at COC, leadership and other community meetings, focus on “workforce [employee] development.” Not a word is spoken about encouraging entrepreneurial spirit.

And where have all the trade and technical schools gone? Beshear recently signed an Executive Order to “overhaul” that system. By “overhaul,” he means make it more like college so Kentucky gets more federal funds with strings attached.

My son wanted to take auto mechanic’s classes at BCTC. There were 18 slots available and a 103 person waiting list! They had just gone to a lottery (because “first come first served” is somehow unfair?) to determine if you got a spot in the two years you’d be waiting.

Plus, you can no longer just take modules, you have to take college English and Algebra. So you’d be a well-rounded mechanic? Mo wants to fix cars, not read the classics or diagram sentences. That system could use an overhaul. Somehow, I doubt Beshear will improve it.

How About Hemp for Victory Over Our Economic Woes?

Hemp provides agriculture and manufacturing “jobs” as well as small business opportunities galore. A few of the 25,000 uses for hemp Kentuckians could be producing and selling are: paper, textiles (and then clothing), biodegradable plastics, construction materials (as with Hempcrete and insulation), body products, ENERGY (bio-fuel), car parts, health food, oil (eating and industrial), and feed.

According to experts, we could grow all the energy the U.S. requires on only 6% of our farmland. Bet Big Oil wishes we didn’t know that little tidbit.

Hemp provides four harvests a year using the same equipment we used to grow tobacco. Low maintenance, no herbicide or pesticide required, very little water. Plant, walk away, come back in a month, harvest.

Hemp is legal in 26 (other) countries. Why not here? It used to be legal here. In fact, Kentucky used to be the hemp capital of the world. The gov’mint begged us to grow it:


Well, having attended hemp discussions in Frankfort, I can tell you why not in Kentucky: our wise overlords are listening to law enforcement officers who claim they can’t tell cannabis hemp from cannabis weed. Funny, cops in 26 other countries can… what’s wrong with our cops?

Our leaders need to educate themselves. NOW. The facts are out there. Hemp is easily identifiable to a trained eye. Besides, hemp cross-pollinates with pot and drastically reduces the THC. Bye bye pot fields. (Trust me, Kentucky’s pot growers DO NOT want hemp legalized! There’s irony for you.)

Yo, Economic Development Offices:

Why aren’t you talking about hemp? Why don’t you talk about right to work? Why don’t you gush on about anything other than being employed by a big corporation? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but why aren’t you talking about ALL opportunities available to Kentuckians?

If EDOs don’t start working for Kentucky’s future, they will be out of work, too, because all the taxpayers will be living somewhere ELSE. Kentucky can’t survive if our kids have to leave to find a living.

Our parent’s generation left this world a better place than they found it. If we want to do the same, we better git goin’. For the first time in the history of the United States, we are in danger of doing just the opposite.

“The patrimony of a poor man lies in the strength and dexterity of his hands; and to hinder him from employing this strength and dexterity in what manner he thinks proper without injury to his neighbour, is a plain violation of this most sacred property.

It is a manifest encroachment upon the just liberty both of the workman, and of those who might be disposed to employ him. As it hinders the one from working at what he thinks proper, so it hinders the others from employing whom they think proper.

To judge whether he is fit to be employed, may surely be trusted to the discretion of the employers whose interest it so much concerns. The affected anxiety of the law-giver lest they should employ an improper person, is evidently as impertinent as it is oppressive.” — Adam Smith