Niagara Gazette

Opinion

August 20, 2013

CONFER: Obama should focus on energy and people

Niagara Gazette — President Obama will be visiting the area in the coming days and we’re told that his focus will be on improving the economy and strengthening the middle class. With our region’s long history of decline in once-mighty blue collar employment there is no better place to share such a message. You could say that Western New York is a trendsetter in economic malaise, for manufacturing is a sector that here, long before the recession that wracked the nation at large, saw production jobs and the associated wealth creation leave for more fruitful economic climes domestically and abroad.

Being the leader in losses is a title we don’t want and don’t deserve. But there’s no better place for our country to learn from, regarding both the bad ideas and policy that got us here and the good ideas and policy that can get us out. Let’s learn from the past, past, and future and build on our strengths to make the nation better.

So, just how do we improve manufacturing and, in turn, the middle class? The ideas are endless (that’s what this column has focused on hundreds of times and ways over the past eight years), but there are some big concepts and big ideas that I hope Obama – and other elected officials – emphasize in both talk and action. For brevity’s sake, here are what I would consider to be the top two keys to strengthening the producing class:

Capitalize on our resources

It has long been believed by the president and other Democrats that our future in energy is dependent not on oil, but on wind and solar.

That’s the wrong approach to take because neither resource is collected by technologies that could be deemed efficient. Were the United States to shift to such energy production, we’d be besieged by power bills that would rival New York’s – the second highest in the nation and the most significant reason for manufacturers having left the Empire State. It would be the death knell for anything that currently boats a “Made in the USA” label.

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