Mississippi’s economy got some terrible news last week with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversing the District Court on standing grounds and upholding the homophobic House Bill 1523. Regardless of what you think of H.B. 1523, it is undeniably bad for the economy. Just ask North Carolina, which repealed its homophobic law after it cost the state economy hundreds of millions of dollars.
This comes at a time when Mississippi’s economy struggles to find an identity other than entitlements and corporate welfare projects. The State is cutting jobs. Medical providers are cutting jobs due to cuts in Medicaid funding. And huge additional cuts to Medicaid will happen if Congress approves the proposed versions of the Republicans’ health care bills. That will devastate small town hospitals and nursing homes. Most of the nursing homes will go out of business.
A few weeks ago, I received an email from the Public Service Commission promoting utility industry jobs in Mississippi. As a parent of a soon to be college graduate, that doesn’t cut it for me as far as where I will encourage my daughter to locate after college.
There are utility industry jobs everywhere. I want her to live someplace with a health private economy on top of the government and utility industry jobs that are a given.
It’s about having many opportunities—not one or two. It’s about having opportunities to move to a different job if she doesn’t like the one she is at or, the employer doesn’t like her. Being trapped in a job you don’t like because there are no other prospects is not a recipe for a happy life.
I am not alone in these sentiments. Many of my contemporaries have kids who are in college or soon to be in college. It’s exceptionally common for them to mention to me that they are encouraging their kids to look at schools and/or job markets outside Mississippi where the economy is better. I don’t bring it up—they just say it while explaining what is going on with their kids.
I hear it over and over. From Democrats and Republicans. The sentiment has nothing to do with politics or religious beliefs. It’s a statement about the economy in Mississippi and where they think it’s heading.
HB 1523 just makes it worse.
The growth industry of the future is tech. Mississippi would struggle to get a foothold in the tech industry without laws that alienate segments of the population.
Telling some people they aren’t welcome here doesn’t just offend those people–it also offends people who disagree with the view. That’s educated progressive people—the people we should be trying to attract. Instead, we do the opposite. If there is a more frustrating place to live in this country than Mississippi, I don’t know where it is.