Somerset Commonwealth Journal. May 19, 2021.
Editorial: It’s time to go back to work
The 1971 hit song “Signs” by the Five Man Electrical Band included the famous lyric, “And the sign said ‘Long-haired freaky people need not apply.’”
These days, businesses might not be so selective.
The “help wanted” situation in this country is getting bad, and it’s no less a problem here in Pulaski County. Anywhere you try to go eat, wait times are slow. The businesses are understaffed, and most signs expressing this fact in the hopes customers will understand and forgive. Some have even had to change their hours and close early due to not having enough warm bodies available
Nothing has changed except the incentive for workers.
To the surprise of no one with a basic understanding of economics, the decision by the federal government to supplement a state’s normal unemployment checks with an additional $300 has had numerous people wonder why they should actually go to work to earn money when Uncle Sam is making it rain while you sit on the couch.
This can’t be allowed to continue. It’s hurting businesses, large and small; it’s hurting customers; and it’s hurting communities. In a town like ours, which should soon see an influx of Ohio Navy visitors eager to shop and eat, things might be about to get very unpleasant when we’re already seeing locked doors and massive drive-thru lines.
In short, the unemployment supplements aren’t good for anybody — except people who just don’t want to earn their keep.
The extra money started as a way to help people who were put out of work due to COVID-19 regulations. That’s understandable, because a lot of businesses had to close or lay off employees due to limited service. The plight of those put in a hard place due to the virus’ ramifications was real and sympathetic.
But very few businesses are quite so limited now, in 2021. Here in Kentucky, most of the severe restrictions have been lifted, and more are going away all the time. And yet we’re still compensating people with taxpayer money as if there’s not work to be had, when in fact you can’t throw a rock without hitting a “help wanted” sign.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced earlier this month that the Volunteer State would no longer be taking part in the federal supplement program, joining other southern states like Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina.
“We will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs because Tennesseans have access to more than 250,000 jobs in our state,” said Lee via a statement. “Families, businesses and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment and move on from short-term, federal fixes.”
We call on Gov. Andy Beshear to do the same here in Kentucky. Take a look around your state, governor. See how the economic engine that drives the commonwealth is suffering. Give Kentucky’s unemployed a reason to go back to work. It’s the right thing to do.
Beshear said Monday he would continue participation in the program “make sure the economic recovery continues.” All the governor needs to do is to go out and take a walk down Main Street Kentucky to see that these supplemental benefits are having the opposite effect. You can change your mind, governor. Don’t stay with a mistake just because a lot of effort has gone into making it.
The argument many give in response to those complaining about the hiring shortage is that these businesses don’t pay well enough, they don’t give benefits, etc. Many are minimum wage jobs, so why go through the hassle when you can make money taking it easy?
Perhaps businesses can be more competitive with their wages, but it’s important to remember that many of these jobs can — and already have been — replaced by self-serve automated customer interfaces; the robot took the job, basically. That’s money a real life human isn’t getting. And the minimum wage was never meant to be a “living wage”; it’s a starting place. Some stores are advertising that they’re hiring students, for whom some money is certainly better than none. Used to be, the assumption was you’d work hard, climb the ladder, and get paid more. Maybe that kind of thinking is considered quaint today, but without it, in a realm of cynicism and apathy, where is the motivation to better yourself? That’s essential to the human spirit — and to society itself.
Whether or not people in these jobs deserve more money than they had been getting, the answer is not to send the unemployed more than they could get being a productive member of society using taxpayer money. The result of all this is increased inflation, increased unemployment, and essentially a potential death blow to small businesses already staggering due to the COVID woes over the last year.
We at the Commonwealth Journal want to see a robust work force. We want to see our businesses healthy and fully-staffed. We want to see society functioning the way it’s supposed to. A rule of thumb: Whatever government subsidizes, you’ll get more of it. In this case, government is subsidizing unemployment — and we’re getting more of it. That’s not good.
Let’s end the unemployment supplement in Kentucky — before it ends us.
Bowling Green Daily News. May 18, 2021.
Editorial: BG CARES program made a difference
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic had a brutal impact on most small businesses in southcentral Kentucky and beyond.
Unfortunately, some businesses didn’t survive the pandemic. Many of those that made it through benefited from government programs that offered vital financial support.
The largest of these was the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which saw the disbursement of about $800 billion in forgivable loans to American businesses
Locally, the city of Bowling Green offered its own version of a PPP program with BG CARES.
BG CARES entailed awarding grants for businesses with up to 50 employees. Grants were between $3,000 to $15,000, depending on the business size, with the funding coming from the federal CARES Act. The funds were authorized for use in a variety of ways to offset losses caused by the pandemic, such as for rent, utilities and personal protective equipment.
A recent report from the city details how BG CARES impacted local businesses
It showed that:
— $2.24 million was awarded.
— 499 Bowling Green businesses received grants.
— more than $1 million was paid out as rent payments to commercial landlords.
— 72% of the businesses had five or fewer employees.
— the biggest beneficiaries were restaurants (92), followed by personal services (91), retail (84) and medical (48). Additionally, 16 nonprofits were given grants.
— the majority of the grant funds were used for rent payments (47%), followed by utilities (22%), mortgages (17%) and PPE (14%).
— the majority of the business funded (53%) were women-, minority- or veteran-owned.
The program was a major undertaking executed in a short amount of time as city officials aimed to get the funds into the community quickly.
City staff even went out and physically handed out program applications to local businesses in an effort to get the funds out when they were most needed.
From an idea last summer, the program was able to get more than $2 million in the hands of local businesses by February.
We commend the city and the staff that worked diligently on this program for offering a vital lifeline to the local business community that is the backbone of our economy.
Ashland Daily Independent. May 14, 2021.
Editorial: Go to a farmers market
If the robin is a sign of spring, the farmers market is a sign of summer and it couldn’t be more welcome.
Some of the 165 farmers markets in Kentucky are open now, of course, with limited products and very limited produce. In a couple of months, though, more than 2,300 vendors will be selling colorful heirloom tomatoes, voluptuous green beans, golden corn and juicy melons, as well as other vegetables, fruits, plants, meats, eggs, cut flowers, baked goods, candles, quits, soaps, maple syrup and other food and farm items.
When you shop a farmers market, not only are you keeping your money in the area, you are helping local farmers keep their businesses running. That farmer could be your neighbor or someone you see at church or a stranger. But even if you don’t know that farmer, you will get the chance to. Farmers and other vendors at farmers markets are happy to meet customers and talk about what they have to offer. From the shoppers’ point of view, getting to know the maker of the item you buy and learning how it was brought to market makes it all the more valuable to you.
That’s not to say items at the farmers market are more expensive. It’s likely they are not. Price points depend on several factors, including what kind of item is being sold. There are items at the farmers market that are unique and not available in just any store, which adds additional value to them, even when the cost doesn’t reflect it.
Farmersmarketcoalition.org says farmers markets stimulate the local economy.
“For every dollor of sales, direct marketers are generating twice as much economic activity within the region, as compared to producers whoa re not involved in direct marketing,” the website states. It also says for very $1 million in revenue, direct-market farms create almost 32 local jobs whereas larger wholesale growers create only 10.5.
As we continue to inch toward recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the farmers market is a perfect way to spend some time. You can support your local economy, purchase things you need get outside in the sunshine and fresh air, perhaps even without a mask.