By G. Michael Dobbs
At one moment during the presidential debate last week, Gov. Mitt Romney said with a fair amount of emphasis, "The government does not create jobs! The government does not create jobs!"
Of course the government creates jobs. Questioning the reason and funding of those jobs is something people of all political stripes have done for many years.
The issue has always been if the jobs being undertaken by government employees were worthwhile and if private companies could complete them cheaper and more efficiently. We've all heard horror stories of government jobs loaded with graft and cronyism since practically the dawn of the republic.
Romney, who has alternated in this campaign from being a moderate Republican to being a much more conservative Republican, apparently was swinging much more to the right at that moment. As a former governor, he knows how government can facilitate the creation of private sector jobs, but from an ideological viewpoint he wasn't selling that line at that time.
Interestingly enough when a government takes a chance on a business and the venture fails, that is always big news. When it succeeds, there seems to be less coverage.
I've recently reported two examples of state government making decisions that will assist private sector development. In Chicopee, the state's installation of a new traffic signal on Memorial Avenue was the green light no pun intended for two new private commercial developments that include several large retail stores and a hotel.
The state's contribution was $1.8 million. The private investments would be many more times that amount. That is an example of how government creates jobs.
Here's another: the Commonwealth has heightened rail bridges to allow trains with double stacks of boxcars to travel through the western part of the state. Our rail bridges were too low, which made it necessary for these double-stacked trains to disassemble themselves and re-assemble as they made their way across the state.
Now, Massachusetts is once again a competitive freight rail market. That will probably mean more jobs and opportunities.
I do think that government programs and grants need to be rigorously questioned and that any job and award should be evaluated. Sticking to an ideology may be easy and produce good sound bites, but it doesn't always reflect what is needed in the everyday world in which all of us live.
In the waning days of the senatorial campaign, Sen. Scott Brown has received some criticism with his swing toward negative advertising aimed at Elizabeth Warren, most notably in a commercial that uses a Boston Globe article to say that Warren didn't help victims of mesothelioma, a cancer produced by exposure to asbestos.
The popular senator's commercials, for the most part, have been positive and this new commercial has been an unfortunate departure as it truly misrepresents the facts.
Don't take my word for it, go to http://factcheck.org/2012/10/warrens-role-in-asbestos-case and read how the commercial takes extracts from the Globe's reporting to slam Warren and twist her record.
I do think that Brown is a decent guy who has gone against his party leadership many times, showing a measure of independent thought. This style of campaigning, though, is no credit to him.
I would remiss if I didn't tip my hat to my friends at The Republican who have made sure to reference periodically the fact that Courtney Llewellyn charged last week in the East Longmeadow voter fraud case had been a reporter for this company prior to her employment with the town of East Longmeadow.
That she was employed here is no secret. Our coverage of the case has been measured until the charges were announced because she was a private person, unlike Jack Villamaino, who was a public official. Libel suits are no fun and can be avoided by using attributed sources and vetting.
I suppose The Republican would like to have its readers draw some sort of unsavory conclusion about this newspaper and its credibility when provided with this factoid over and over.
Yes, I get it. We are competitors. So why not try to bash us when someone who had been associated with this newspaper is charged with a crime? It makes sense, I suppose.
I think if the shoe was on the other foot, I know our reporting wouldn't try to repeatedly draw a company into the private activities of a former employee.
Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.