Monthly Archives: January 2013

Why do regions fail?

January 16, 2013

In Mississippi, public policymakers, elected officials at all levels (local, state and federal) and community leaders of every stripe continually discuss ways to improve the Mississippi Delta.  There has been no shortage of studies, initiatives and funding programs for just about everything imaginable.  Although there are some bright spots, one wonders why there has not been more improvement in the region as a whole.

With that backdrop, I was especially interested in an article at the Daily Yonder website entitled Speak Your Piece: Why regions Fail, written by Jason Bailey.  The first sentence reads, “What’s kept Eastern Kentucky from prosperity?”  The author first discusses a critique of the region by outside observers, and then posits that one of the problems with such “diagnoses” is that it is too narrow.  We should look at the greater historical and economic context about why the families in the region live the way that they do, he says.  Reference is then made to Why Nations Fail, by economist Daron Acemoglu and political scientist James RobinsonHere’s a clip from that part of the article:

They conclude that economic success is not the result of culture, geography or other standard explanations. Rather, prosperity is caused by a country’s human-made institutions.

They characterize nations’ economic and political institutions as either inclusive or extractive. Inclusive institutions create a fair environment for competition, provide education and encourage innovation, distribute political power widely and encourage public participation, and have an accountable and responsive government. Extractive institutions are designed to benefit the few at the expense of the many. They discourage democratic participation, fail to enforce the rule of law or promote new economic activity, and are characterized by corruption and cronyism.

So, could this observation be applied to Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta?  Or is it already being applied, and not getting the desired results?

The questions and observations about the solutions to poverty go on.  I recommend the above article as a good read to start/continue the discussion.


Why rainy, dreary days are the best time to shop for a house.

January 14, 2013

Today’s weather forecast in my area calls for rain and plunging temperatures.  Already, the weather outside is deteriorating.  Listening to my radio, I just heard an interview with a real estate person on this rainy, dreary day.  He made a side comment to the effect that today was “probably not a good day to go look at a house.”

I disagree.  I think that rainy, dreary days are the best time to look at a house.  You can see where the water drains, you can tell if there is a leaky roof, etc.  Looking at a house on a rainy day might even be a way to show the owner that you are a serious buyer.  After all, who would be out looking at house on a day like today except serious buyers?

Blame It On The Blues

January 11, 2013

“Blame It On The Blues” exhibit opened last night at the BB King Museum in Indianola, MS featuring artwork by lots of Mississsippi natives (Chad Mars, Anne Campbell, Howard Jones, Toni Difatta, Clay Hardwick). It will be displayed throughout the Barksdale Cotton Gin and the Museum lobby until February 3

Why communities should not try to be like other communities

January 9, 2013

This morning I read an article about city beautification.  In it a local elected official said that his community should try to be like a certain other community. He pointed out that other communities were “jealous” of that certain community.

I understand what he was saying, but I hope he doesn’t try to copy or replicate what the other community has done.  While communities can learn from each other, it should be remembered that every community is unique and should capitalize on its owns strengths.  In other words, learn from others, but be yourself.


Top 10 Ways to Influence Negative Media

January 4, 2013

What do you do when your organization, or you for that matter, becomes the subject of negative news media reports?  There are many ways to counter negative media reports, including ignoring them.  Remember the old adage about never picking a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel and paper by the ton?  That was probably good advice in the days when newspapers were the dominant media, but that is no longer the case.

Today’s updated advice comes from Sharyl Attkisson, a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington, who has an excellent blog post for anyone who desires to influence negative media.  Although there are pros and cons to each of her Top 10 Ways to Influence Negative Media, her blog is a worthy read for anyone who ever has occasion to deal with negative media.  Below is the abbreviated version of her list.  Each is explained in her blog.


1. Exploit Social Media

When news reporters publish factually correct but potentially damaging stories, use pseudonyms to set up accounts on social media such as Facebook and Twitter to promulgate your propaganda.

2. Attack the Messenger

When you’ve found it impossible to discredit the story because it’s accurate and fair, do “opposition research” on the reporter. Dig for professional and personal dirt.

3. Employ Third Parties

Don’t deny the facts yourself: People may disregard that. Instead, use trusted – paid – third parties to write letters to editors for newspapers, do TV interviews and offer up opinions without disclosing their conflicts of interest .

4. Appeal to the Fringe

Remember, with the web, anybody can publish. Exploit that!

5. Enter Wikiland

Because it has no oversight or appeal body, Wikipedia is a rich resource for your propaganda and spin. The beauty is, you can write false or skewed information and prevent others from changing it!

6. Label the “Mouthpiece”

When a reporter has found a solid source that you can’t seem to discredit or stop, one who’s providing truthful but harmful information about your agency or business, accuse the reporter of being a “mouthpiece” for the source.

7. FOI-fuscate

Turn Freedom of Information (FOI) law on its head and use it to help you hide information rather than disclose it. When a reporter asks for material under FOI, tell him he’s got to go to the end of a long, long line.

8. Open the Floodgates

When you don’t want to do an interview, but want to spin the reporter, flood him with reams of useless information, press releases, emails and articles.

9. Ignore

The flipside of “Opening the Floodgates”: When things look so bad that there’s nothing you can do to coat it with sugar, and you don’t want to talk to the reporter, just ignore his calls and requests.

10. Use Charities and Non-Profits to Disguise

The charity world is one of great potential for your PR propaganda because there’s relatively little disclosure and oversight.


Sam Kaye was one of the most selfless people I have ever met.

Sam Kaye was one of the most selfless people I have ever met.  He was the epitome of one who “gives back” to a community.  Below is a partial tribute from the Mississippi Main Street Association. I could not have said it any better.  Click here to read the rest of it.  Rest in peace, Sam.

The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) honors the life of longtime friend and architect Samuel “Sam” H. Kaye, AIA, who went home to be with the Lord on January 1, 2013.

Since 1994, Kaye served as Staff Consultant to the Mississippi Main Street Association, working with towns throughout Mississippi. He served as MMSA Director of Design Services until 2007—in addition to running his own architectural firm, Luke Peterson Kaye, Architects.

Kaye volunteered for civic groups and the Episcopal Church in Columbus and for the state. He was also the first president of the Columbus Main Street Association.

“Sam has been involved with Mississippi Main Street since its origin,” said Bob Wilson, MMSA Executive Director. “He was serving on the Board of Advisors for the National Trust for Historic Preservation when Mississippi was brought into the Main Street program in 1986.”

“From that day forward, even though he had his own successful architectural firm, Sam gave tirelessly of his time, energy and leadership to Mississippi Main Street and other preservation groups, including the Mississippi Heritage Trust, for which he was chairman of the Steering Committee and Charter President,” Wilson said.

Kaye’s involvement through his work with MMSA has enhanced many Mississippi communities and neighborhoods. His work with upper floor downtown housing has resulted in more than 30 buildings being recycled with new viability in more than a dozen communities throughout Mississippi. His involvement with the Cutrer Mansion in Clarksdale, Mississippi resulted in saving this building, which is associated with noted playwright Tennessee Williams.

We want it all – or cut your spending, but give me mine.

January 2, 2013

This morning Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” He made some excellent points about what had happened with the so-call fiscal bill and passionately made the case that spending is the real problem to be dealt with.  I was so impressed with his points that I went to the “News” section of his website to sign up for his newsletter.  And it was there that I found these headlines:

Sen. Toomey Issues Statement On Fiscal Cliff;

Sen. Toomey Heralds $92,000 Grant For Lafayette Ambulance And Rescue Squad;

Sen Toomey Heralds $91,000 Grant for New Haven Hose Company.

I have no doubt that these grants are worthy, but it illustrates how cutting spending is such a dilemma for Congress – and for all of us.