Editorials by Robert Kirwan

“Where There’s This Much Manure, There’s Gotta Be A Pony”

   The latest data we have available shows that the jobless rate in Sudbury is anywhere from 7 to 10%. This is a serious situation which has been getting worse over the years as the rest of the country shows employment and economic growth.

   However, what should be of equal, if not more concern to all local residents is the increasing number of people who are currently working, but who may only be getting two or three days of work a week. These are people who are considered employed, but in reality, they cannot maintain any kind of normal lifestyle under those circumstances.

   We should also be concerned about the increasing number of people who are struggling as self-employed entrepreneurs,  trying desperately to build a successful business in the Greater Sudbury Area as an alternative to moving away to take a job in the south. Many would like to find permanent employment, but are forced to offer their services on a contract basis wherever they can find work.

   While it is true that there are a lot of people working at some very well-paying jobs in Sudbury, with many families fortunate to take home earnings in excess of six-figures, there are also a lot of people trying to live on less than $20,000 a year, either on pension or in positions which contain no job security and no chance for advancement. These may be good jobs for people who are looking at supplementing the income of their high wage earning spouse in order to have extra spending money, but they are not good jobs for people with young children who are trying to pay for food, shelter and clothing.

   Underemployment, or full-time employment at part-time wages, therefore, is just as big a problem for us in this region today as unemployment.

   Never before has it been so important for small business and consumers to work together in support of each other. In order for this to happen, two critical things must happen.

   First, small, locally-owned businesses must do whatever they can to attract consumers. This means that they must find creative ways of promoting their goods and services to the local market and must then provide the kind of service that will generate the loyalty and support they need.

   Second, consumers must pay more attention to what local businesses have to offer. By making purchases of as many goods and services as possible from local businesses, all revenue remains in the community and is eventually reinvested, thus creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

   What we are experiencing now is that much of our money is being spent at much larger national outlets. The profit from these stores is going outside of the Greater Sudbury Area. While it is true that jobs are being created by the larger corporations, many of those jobs are part-time or low-paying and do not provide much long-term security. There is very little long-term reinvestment of profits back into the local economy, and that in part is what has created the problem we have in the Greater Sudbury Area today. Money is leaving the area faster than it is coming in. Until we correct this major economic problem, our employment picture simply cannot improve. There will be less and less money in the local economy and underemployment will get worse.

   This means that everyone – and I mean everyone – must work together for the future of our community. It is more important than ever that we give consideration to the small businesses which can provide for most of our needs at a competitive price. The service they provide to the community is worth the minor inconvenience of having to shop at multiple locations, or even to pay a small amount more. Small business owners are the people who sponsor our minor sports teams; donate to church teas; buy our homes; and reinvest in the local economy. They do not take the money and give it to shareholders from around the world. They return it to the residents of the community.

   Despite the poor statistics and the fact that the future looks bleak, there is still room for hope. It is not too late to “turn this ship around” and change things for the better. Read the following little story to see what I mean.

   This is a story about identical twins. One was a true optimist. "Everything is coming up roses!" he would say. The other twin was a sad and hopeless pessimist. The worried parents of the boys brought them to the local psychologist.

   The psychologist suggested to the parents a plan to balance the twins "personalities." On their next birthday, the parents were to put them in separate rooms to open their gifts. They were to give the pessimist the best toys they could afford, and give the optimist a box of manure. The parents followed these instructions and carefully observed the results.
   When they peeked in on the pessimist, they heard him audibly complaining, "I don't like the color of this computer. I'll bet this calculator will break. I don't like the game boy. I know someone who's got a bigger toy car than this."
   Tiptoeing across the corridor, the parents peeked in and saw their little optimist gleefully throwing the manure up in the air. He was giggling. "You can't fool me! Where there's this much manure, there's gotta be a pony!"

   I think we should all be like the second boy. There phenomenal potential in this area. We can meet the challenges facing us today if we all work together as a community and put our money to work locally to stimulate the economy and improve the underemployment situation.  

   Valley East and Capreol are still wonderful places in which to live and raise a family. It is definitely worth the effort. Let’s be like the optimist with the manure. Where there’s this much potential, there’s gotta be a bright future!


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