Welcome, Mr. President
Welcome to Boston, Mr. President. We venture the local greeting even though most of our readers live far from our home base. For national and international ripples spread from the high-tech activities you are scheduled to visit today in the inner city on our doorstep and in a suburban town. In keeping with your State of the Union themes, your presence here dramatizes the need for opening the high-tech future to all.
This means extra efforts to train and recruit minority workers. Valuable attention will be drawn to such efforts by your visit to a training center and computer assembly plant (with more than 60 percent minority employment) in predominantly black Roxbury.
Preparation for the future also means creation of more total jobs in emerging industries. This is a goal of the high-tech council which will offer examples of how to achieve it when you meet with members in Bedford.
Yes, labor specialists warn that, even under optimistic projections of high-tech growth, these industries may do little to address national unemployment. The benefits could go largely to places like California's Silicon Valley - and Boston. The stress on high tech to keep America competitive must not become a diversion from bolstering basic manufacturing and service jobs. High tech is not labor-intensive enough to absorb all the people without skills or with outmoded ones.
Yet, Mr. President, perhaps there is a domestic equivalent to what has been happening on the international scene. Note the transition of jobs from high-tech Japan to third-world countries, where workers have shown how quickly they can shift from village skills to handling computer components. Note an argument made for your own Caribbean Basin plan - the example of a New York maker of electronic parts who found they could be made quickly and well by previously untrained workers on one of the islands. A shift of jobs in a region , not a loss. The improvement of an island economy, which becomes more of a market for the mainland and thus potentially creates jobs there, too.
Now you will see in Roxbury an example of development in part of America's own internal''third-world'' or less-developed area. Ironically, many in Boston are saying, a corporation was encouraged and enabled to make the move into Roxbury through the kind of federal funding your administration has sought to cut. Fortunately, on the eve of your visit, funds were restored to the local community development agency involved; otherwise, it was expected to go out of business before bringing other firms into the inner city.
If funding can be reconsidered in such a case, it may be worth reconsidering to revitalize other parts of the country. As one hard-nosed Boston banker said, the chances of attracting sufficient industry to decaying urban areas is very doubtful under planned cuts in federal low-interest loans and subsidies. Even without increases in total outlays they could be more precisely targeted to do more good.
As we say, welcome to Boston, Mr. President, and to the vast promise of high tech when the policies are right.