If you have a TV chances are you have seen Nathan Deal brag in commercials that Georgia is #1 in the country for business. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if his #1 in business Google ads are running on this very page where I will dismantle that premise entirely. So what does being #1 in business really mean? I am always skeptical of anything completely unquantifiable. For example, if someone said people in Louisiana are the happiest in the country, people in Nebraska are the friendliest, Illinois has the best BBQ, or people in Idaho are the most attractive…how would you go about proving or disproving any of them?
They are all purely opinion based and impossible to verify. Ask different people and you will get wildly different answers. When you measure unemployment rates, the number of people below poverty, number of uninsured, number of unemployed, number of students that fail to graduate, number of people in jails and prisons…all those things you can measure and count.
I have previously written about numerous areas that are very quantifiable and can be measured where Georgia is at or near the bottom called Are Georgian’s getting a Raw Deal and Financial State of Georgia: Sinkhole State. Although I am proud of those articles, I felt I needed a new one to be a bit more laser focused on the claim of being #1 for business since Deal is betting the farm and millions in advertising on this notion.
Is Being First in Business a Good Thing?
Now that seems like a very obvious answer. Your instinct would be to say, of course it is you big dummy and why are you asking such a stupid question. Are you some sort of commie radical? No, I most certainly am not. Now that you have hopefully calmed down let’s considers places in the world considered to be #1 in business or at least the top 10 countries for business.
What would large companies look for? This of course depends on the type of company. But some things that would likely be on most CEO’s checklist might include:
- Few labor, pollution, or environmental regulations
- Weak unions or worker protections
- Low wage laborers
- Abundant & Cheap Natural resources
- Good Infrastructure
- Low Business taxes
- Large and desperate workforce willing to work for peanuts
Now, I am sure there are dozens more factors you could include like political stability, quality of life, cost of living, cost of doing business, crime rates, weather, corruption, quality of healthcare access to name but a few. For example, Russia has among the lowest regulations and taxes for businesses in the world but never makes a top 10 list of places to do business due to the high cost of corruption and bribes you have to factor in and instability in business laws. When you get squeezed by the Russian mafia and a government that can act like a mafia, it makes it far trickier to formulate strategic business plans or make profits.
Developed countries that usually tend to make the top of the list year after year include Singapore, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, and Sweden. Now those countries might be attractive if you are a financial services company but not so much if you manufacture products like shoes, clothes, plastic consumer goods, or electronics and want to outsource labor. Manufacturers (depending on what they are producing) will choose countries like China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Thailand and other countries with abundant cheap labor, little to no regulation of any type which allows labor and environmental exploitation.
Are you thoroughly confused yet? Well good, you should be. The fact of the matter is there simply is no way to measure any U.S. state as being “Best at business.“Would most people in Georgia prefer to attract the same types of businesses and wages as companies attracted to Singapore, Switzerland and Canada or to countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Honduras? I don’t have to go out on much of a limb when I say that Georgia workers would likely be more satisfied with living and working conditions in Canada over some sweatshop in Indonesia.
Forbes Ranks Virginia #1 in Business
According to Forbes, Virginia is #1 in the country for business. North Carolina also placed above Georgia on the Forbes list at #4.
- Virginia has a 5-Year Annual GSP Growth: 1.0% & Gross State Product: $446 billion.
- North Carolina: 5-Year Annual GSP Growth: 0.7% & Gross State Product: $456 billion,
- Georgia: 5-Year Annual GSP Growth: -0.2% & Gross State Product: $434 billion.
Georgia has a larger population than either Virginia or North Carolina but a smaller Gross State Product not to mention negative growth over the last five years.
Nathan Deal has used the CNBC report that ranks Georgia as #1 but is that reliable source? Not really according to a report from Better Georgia. According to their investigation: ” It turns out that CNBC relied on Gov. Deal’s donors and political allies for its data. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published these political connections this morning but Nathan Deal doesn’t want to talk about it — at all. “Initial indications this morning are that the Deal campaign is too angry to offer any coherent comment,” It turns out that CNBC used data from two politically aligned sources to create the rankings: the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness. And both of these groups have direct ties to Nathan Deal.”
It does seem extremely questionable that Georgia’s ranking for transportation infrastructure soared from No. 18 last year to No. 1 this year with no significant improvements. CNBC also admits that Georgia is near the bottom of its rankings for education and quality of life. How then can CNBC turn around and rank Georgia #1 for business with the nations highest unemployment rate, poor quality of life, and poor education? In Georgia there is an old expression that goes, don’t pee on my legs and tell me it’s raining that I think applies here.
Quantifiable Statistics That Can Be Measured
Unlike happiness, most attractive, or best in country for business I have decided to compile a list of stats where there can be absolutely no doubt as to the validity. I think these are the actually statistics and metrics people need to be aware of when they decide to choose their Governor.
- #24 in Business Costs
- #1 in country with highest unemployment rate
- Georgia dropped from 33rd in Per capita income in 2007 to 40th in 2012
- Only state in country to have 3 cities in top 10 for losing population
- #11 in Labor Supply
- #4 in Regulatory Environment
- #40 in Economic Climate
- #12 in Growth Prospects
- #36 in Quality of Life
- 28th worst per Taxpayer Burden
- Georgia ranked 42nd by AARP for elderly Care
- Georgia fell from 35th to 45th in health care rankings
- Georgia 48th in the country when it comes to children being covered by health insurance.
- Georgia ranked 11th worst state for working Moms
- Georgia ranked #2 in country for stress
Nathan Deal’s Bangladeshification Plan for Georgia
The only rank on that list where Georgia ranked #1 is the one we want to rank 51st which is the unemployment rate. When people in Mississippi are now saying “Thank God for Georgia” you know we are in trouble. I certainly imagine if you are a friend of Nathan Deal and happen to be the CEO of a company like Copart, Delta, The Atlanta Braves or Falcons, Coca Cola, Caterpillar or others then Georgia can be a fantastic place to do business. But if you are among the many unemployed, uninsured, working and middle class Georgians that have watched your incomes drop by $6,500 in the last 10 years then you might look at the #1 ranking for business Nathan Deal likes to brag about with some disdain and disbelief.
Nathan Deal is attempting to make Georgia the Bangladesh of the United States. Wouldn’t we rather be compared to Switzerland? I suppose he can continue to brag about that tainted CNBC study and many gullible people will buy it hook, line, and sinker without the slightest idea what it even really means. Hopefully enough Georgians that bother to do their homework or simply open their eyes to all the poor and suffering Georgians in dire straits all around them will know better and vote Nathan Deal out of office before his Bangladeshification plan for Georgia is complete.
Bangladesh may be #1 in business if you want to manufacture T-shirts but I don’t think it is a place many people in Georgia would be proud to call home. Isn’t it time we fired this guy and gave someone else a chance?