Georgia Says

The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle on Goodyear:

Irate labor leaders at a Goodyear tire factory slated for closure in Amiens, France, kidnapped two members of senior management last week and held them for more than a day to demand higher payouts for laid-off workers.

The response from French authorities, in addition to not dispatching a tactical rescue team, went something like this: Eh, no biggie.

Zut alors!

The so-called "boss-napping" at the Goodyear tire plant in Amiens is what happens when the snake of radical socialism finally comes full circle to eat itself - employees resort to lawlessness when the high taxes, onerous regulations and cradle-to-grave entitlements they are dependent upon force their employer out of business.

As mind-bending as this scenario sounds to Americans, who still enjoy a (mostly) free-market economy, they should realize the farcical drama played out at the Goodyear plant is not an isolated incident. Similar imprisonment-as-negotiation tactics have been employed at Sony France, Caterpillar and the country's state-run postal service in recent years.

Though the French executives were berated during their 30-hour captivity, they were not physically harmed. And union representatives said they were supplied with ample food and water. How nice. Similar boss-nappings in other foreign countries have not ended so well, such as the CEO of China's Tonghua Iron and Steel, who was beaten to death by workers in 2009.

Though Detroit labor unions' hardball tactics killed the U.S. auto industry, we can at least be thankful they never killed anybody - that we are aware of.

The French incident closes the book on a dispute that started in 2009, when workers rejected plans to reduce costs at the facility Goodyear deemed too noncompetitive and outdated to produce the newest styles of tires.

Goodyear's severance plans for workers at the affected plant have not been disclosed, but unionists were asking for packages ranging from 80,000 to 180,000 euros ($109,100 to $244,700 in U.S. currency) depending on seniority.

Any way you look at it, that's a hefty payout. The question is, was it worth it?

The Telegraph, Macon, Ga., on 2014's economic forecast has Georgia looking up:

It's been a long, dry drain, but top state economists predict 2014 will be the year when we will start feeling better about the state of the nation's economy and particularly the economy in Georgia.

Dr. Charles Knapp, president emeritus of the University of Georgia and now dean of the Terry School of Business, and Dr. Roger Tutterow, professor of economics at Mercer University, were the bearers of the good news at the Economic Outlook Luncheon at the Museum of Aviation. The pair presented slides that visually depicted the results of the storm we call the Great Recession.

Georgia was hit particularly hard due to our overdependence on construction -- primarily housing for the large number of people moving into the state, but the construction sector is bouncing back strong. Many of the slides were not pretty. As we all know, the recession was not a gradual decline. Rather, the gross domestic product's year over year growth fell off a cliff in 2008, according to the Commerce Department. And while there is plenty of economic evidence showing the economy is recovering, albeit slowly for the most part, the uptick has not felt like an uptick. That, according to the experts, will end this year -- and it's about time.

There are concerns. The experts expect growth in all sectors save one -- and that one is big. While manufacturing, agriculture, life sciences, hospitality, services, retail, construction and other sectors are expected to have large to moderate increases, government spending will be down. According to the Terry School of Business, "In 2012, local governments together with state and federal government provided 17.2 percent of jobs and 13.8 percent of Georgia's GDP." Our local economy will be hit hard if more federal cuts come -- and they will come. We are overly dependent on federal dollars that, "provide close to 8 percent of nonfarm earnings in Georgia compared to the 5.3 percent U.S. average."

While state and local coffers are being replenished, the economists advised more investment in K-12 education. Georgia's children are falling further behind. They pointed out that we are still using an education system designed for an agrarian society, and that's not cutting it in the 21st century.

Georgia's economic development efforts will lose out to competing states if it falls behind on efforts to have a qualified, educated work force. Do we have the will to meet the educational challenges? That was one question the experts couldn't answer.

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