Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Someone has suggested a problem with this blog

I got a suggestion that my blog has a negative tone and I should lighten it up. A question for the crowd, when discussing Carbondale business or SIUC is there anything to be upbeat about?

Yes, there are a large number of underpaid, intelligent and nice people here. It is a great place to raise your kids too. But as SIUC has coasted downhill into its current sad state, it doesn't leave much that is uplifting to discuss. Should I be celebrating that a professor who is pretty well paid to teach and do research does it? The free state money given to people who made campaign contributions large enough? Our many levels of government, each setup to stop business owners from doing business here?

The business community is completely dependent on SIUC for service money. I hear that School Center is doing well, but the scope of that is fairly limited to the local economy since their pay scale seems to be low. CCS is doing well, as is SIH. The combination of lack of jobs that allow managers to mature while still in the area and dearth of experienced talent makes starting up or recruiting outside companies difficult. We produce very little beyond education for college students and the swishing around of money in town to pay for services. We also expertly provide the standard American pallet of goods and services for sale at normal prices.

What should we be happy about at SIUC and/or our local business community? If there isn't much to be happy about, why aren't you trying to fix it?


Jonathan said...

"Negative?" No, dissident. "Speaking truth to Power." That's academic-speak for plain talking criticism, backed by facts.

To put in perspective where this region is economically, consider the following numbers. For reference, I used Wood County (Bowling Green, Ohio) as a comparison city and county. The city and county have the same population as Carbondale/Jackson County. The town is home to Bowling Green State University, a bit smaller than SIUC but not by much. Both are surrounded by rural areas though Wood County is within a half hour of Toledo (which is still in its death throes). I spent the past summer there (and the summer of 1999) at a libertarian think tank. It's not heaven on earth but people are much more upbeat.

Also note: The cost of living for both is almost exactly the national average (some people at SIU like to rationalize with the "low cost of living" -- yes, low by comparison with NYC, Boston or San Fran, but not the nation as a whole). If anyone wants to check cost of living, go to

That is a wonderful resource for recent SIUC grads leaving the area (as they should) in search of opportunity elsewhere.

OK, here are the numbers on income and poverty rate for USA, Jackson County, and Wood County, Ohio.


USA (all states): $43,318
Wood County: 45,615
Jackson County: 26,954


USA (all states): 12.5%
Wood County: 7.7%
Jackson County: 19.3%

Jonathan Bean said...

P.S.: It would be interesting to see the same data for our "peer institutions." I'm used to college towns generating above-average income for the surrounding area, but I guess we are the exception to the rule.

Anonymous said...

P.S.: Judging by GDP per capita (adjusted for purchasing power parity), Jackson County is between Malta and Portugal, the two poor cousins of "Old Europe." The U.S. is ranked 3d (behind Luxembourg and Norway). No wonder I feel embarrassed when international students come to Carbondale and think "this is America?!" Well, as Jesus said,

"the poor you have with you always....."