Is History Repeating Itself in Dayton?


Philosopher George Santayana is credited with the statement “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.  History is about to repeat itself here in Dayton, OH, and it may be ugly.

In August 2008, Forbes’ magazine published an article entitled Americas Fastest Dying Cities.  People went nuts.  How could Dayton be included with such cities as Detroit & Youngstown?  (Check out some basic facts here, according to Forbes in 2008.)  Sure, the economy is the main reason, but a basic business class would have also answered this question.

A fundamental rule of business & finance is diversity lessens risk.  Dayton didn’t diversify.  When General Motors (GM) was in its heyday, most of the local businesses fed off of GM – tool & die shops, metal fab places, machine shops, and the like.  The city & county didn’t do much to entice other types of businesses to the area, except for maybe military-related contractors.

When GM spun off Delphi in 1999, I personally believe that was when Dayton began its downward spiral.  The defining moment was when the GM closed Truck & Bus in Moraine.  (For you non-locals, Truck & Bus was the final assembly plant for a few models of SUVs & pick-ups.)  When the last truck rolled of the assembly line on December 23, 2008, many of the supporting business were already closed.

Enter Tech Town.  Some people seem to think technology will be the answer, but it will not be the cure-all to the area’s problems.  Hi-tech businesses look for employees with training in computers/IT, engineering, etc.  These are highly specialized fields that comprise a smaller portion of the employment base.  Therefore, employment will not be greatly affected.

I am not a great economist, and I don’t think technology is bad, but I hate to see officials making the same mistake twice – especially when a portion of the answer is as obvious as this.  Did GM not teach us anything?  With the emphasis on high technology, it appears as if Dayton is putting all of its eggs in one basket again.


Open Letter to John Boehner


Dear Mr. Boehner:

I have been watching the news lately and couldn’t help but notice that the extension of unemployment insurance is up for vote in Congress.  As one of your constituents (I live in Dayton, OH) who is unemployed, I thought I would write to tell you how important these extensions are to me and others like me.

I was laid off after Christmas 2009 due to the economic conditions.  I was at this company for two and a half years.  I have a business degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH, and paid my own way through college.

While I knew that finding a job would be difficult, I did not realize how difficult it would be.  I cashed out my 401k to help pay expenses.  When the 401k money ran out, I tapped into my savings.  My savings didn’t last long because my real estate taxes increased by $600 per year.  This increase in taxes caused my mortgage payment to rise by $105 per month.  I suffer from hypothyroidism and can no longer afford to see the doctor.  Without a prescription, I can not get medication.

This isn’t a plea to keep the new health care plan, this is a plea to extend unemployment.  My unemployment benefits are roughly half of my salary.  Benefits pay my utilities and keep a roof over my head.  If I have any money left over (which is rare), I go grocery shopping.  I am down to eating once a day to make food last longer.

The GOP argument is unemployment benefits add to the deficit.  I understand this position, but you need to make an effort to understand mine.  Unemployment benefits keep me afloat.  Without it, I would be homeless and probably fall into a coma due to my hypothyroidism.

Another argument is that extending unemployment just makes people lazy.  This is absolutely UNTRUE!  I apply – on average – to five jobs per week.  My resume is posted on various job boards.  I spend two to three hours per day applying for jobs.  I have applied for blue collar positions (e.g. warehouse worker, retail, etc), but was told I was overqualified. I do want to work!

What you and the rest of your party need to realize is that there is a new breed of unemployed workers.  The unemployed are no longer the uneducated, flighty people who bounce around from job to job.  The unemployed include people like me – hard-working, educated people who have specialized skills.

Maybe what you need to do is visit your constituents more than three times a year and see how the majority of people really live, not just the top tier.  You should see the struggles some of us go through and the agonizing decisions we have to make.  Please Mr. Boehner, extend unemployment insurance.  Some of our lives depend on it, literally.