Reawakening Rip and Restarting the Dynamo | Beaufort County Now | At various times in our state’s history we’ve been compared to Rip Van Winkle, the lethargic sleepy-head, or the Dixie Dynamo,” a fast-moving, progressive economic engine. | my spin, tom campbell, unemployment rate, reopening, lockdown, coronavirus, covid-19, may 20, 2020

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Reawakening Rip and Restarting the Dynamo

Tom Campbell
    At various times in our state's history we've been compared to Rip Van Winkle, the lethargic sleepy-head, or the Dixie Dynamo," a fast-moving, progressive economic engine. Right now we are more the former than the latter.

    The April national unemployment rate was 14.7 percent; most believe it more accurately around 18-20 percent. North Carolina's rate will closely track the national statistics, as more than 1 million North Carolinians have filed for unemployment.

    Now that we are in Phase Two of reopening everyone is eager to restore our economy and the prosperity we enjoyed prior to the epidemic. But how and how long will it take? First, some cautions: This pandemic isn't going away and some experts believe it might even get worse since we've been staying home and haven't had much contact with others. Despite optimistic hopes, the vaccine for COVID-19 is months away. Even when approved and mass-produced, the only way to eliminate the virus is for all 7.5 billion of us on the planet to be inoculated. Count on at least two years for that.

    Some are predicting that most of us will get coronavirus before it is eliminated. The ones most at risk are those over 65 and those with chronic health conditions, like diabetes, COPD, respiratory, and heart problems. The mortality rate is highest among them. The rest of us will recover.

    Our twofold goal has to be to protect those most at risk while also getting our economy back on track. I leave to scientists and medical experts the first task, but I have some ideas on the latter.

    Another truth: Many of the businesses or nonprofits that previously employed people won't survive. Those that do will come back slowly, molasses-slow, before becoming strong enough to rehire former workers. Count on at least a year before we fall below double-digit unemployment, and even that will require help - large amounts of financial pump-priming. Like it or not, this help can only come from the government, and the longer we wait the more we suffer.

    Let's go back to the future. When "The Great Depression" created an economic fallout in 1929 the unemployment rate soared to 20 percent. Sound familiar? It was ultimately World War II that ended the depression, but the nation had been on a path of economic improvement beforehand.

    Drive around most towns in our state and you can see evidence of the Works Progress Administration, Public Works Administration, and the Civilian Conservation Corps, New Deal programs through which our government spent billions of dollars and put millions of people to work. Their works include Reynolds Coliseum at NC State, Hanes Park in Winston-Salem, water systems in Wilmington, Rocky Mount and other communities, baseball stadiums in Greenville, Kinston, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Durham, and other towns, courthouses aplenty, and funding for the arts, music, drama, and writers.

    AmeriCorps is the modern-day cousin to those agencies. There are many eager to get back to work, get a paycheck, and do something worthwhile. You may call this concept socialism and perhaps it is, we are dreaming to believe reopening alone will restore our economic health. North Carolina needs another WW II stimulus similar to what The Marshall Plan was for Europe. Let's call it CarolinaCorps!

    We've got plenty of pent-up needs and lots of available human capital. We need leaders willing to take bold action to awaken Rip and restart the dynamo. Doing nothing is not an option.

    Publisher's note: Tom Campbell is former assistant North Carolina State Treasurer and is creator/host of NC SPIN, a weekly statewide television discussion of NC issues that airs on UNC-TV main channel Fridays at 7:30pm, Sundays 12:30pm and UNC North Carolina Channel Fridays at 10:00pm, Saturdays at 4:00pm and Sundays at 10:00am. Contact Tom at NC Spin.


Latest Op-Ed & Politics

A bill introduced in Kentucky this week would “add false reporting of claims of abuse towards another party or de facto custodian to the list of factors a court shall consider when making a custody determination.”
Let's be frank.... a lot of us have been leery of Facebook and its cabal of programmers, administrators, promoters, fact-checkers, and even its creator, and many have even walked away from the liberal platform.
Governor Roy Cooper signed the following bill into law: House Bill 4
An analysis from Reason magazine finds that there is a significant variation in per-capita state and local aid contained in the latest Covid relief bill being debated on Capitol Hill.
With new U.S. Census data not expected until September, the State Board of Elections is recommending moving all of this year’s municipal elections to 2022.


Though it is well-established and easy to see by the plain language of the statute and the settlement, Bell strongly declared at the end of her testimony that the collusive settlement “did not change the law."
We will offer this allotment of three with more to come; some old, most new, but all quite informative, and, moreover, necessary to understanding that in North Carolina, there is a wiser path to govern ourselves and our People.
Private bars will open at limited capacity under a new executive decree from the governor, although at the same time he called for more direct government aid to prop up failing businesses.
Vanita Gupta openly advocates to “end the use of police in schools as a solution to student discipline.”
Naomi Lim of the Washington Examiner highlights the slow progress of President Joe Biden in filling Cabinet-level positions.



Back to Top