In an op-ed in Monday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jamie Merisotis of the Lumina Foundation noted that:
… the demand for skilled workers is growing, and there are thousands of good-paying jobs available right now around the state. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough college-educated residents to fill those positions. And unless the pace of degree attainment picks up significantly, Missouri won’t have enough talent to meet its future workforce needs.
While Mr. Meriotis went on to detail ways to graduate more students form Missouri colleges, the issue of “brain drain” – the retention of those graduates in Missouri – as well as enticing out-of-state college graduates to accept jobs in Missouri are equally important.
General wisdom has it that regions that do best at attracting college graduates are “economically vital as well as physically or culturally appealing.” Economic viability speaks for itself and Missouri obviously has some problems in this area.
Think, however, as well, about the state’s cultural appeal. Social culture and political culture are closely related, so to get a handle on what it is about Missouri that might be off-putting, it could be instructive to review some of the bills that were vetoed by Governor Nixon after this last legislative session, bills, for instance, to ward off non-existent threats from Sharia law, or to forbid any sustainability activities that might mirror the U.N.’s suggested (purely voluntary) Agenda 21 guidelines. An especially illustrative situation is that occasioned by the veto of HB436.
HB436 reflects the belief of some of the not-so-bright lights in the legislature that they can decide to “nullify” all federal gun laws – new federal laws as well as those that have been on the books for years – and prohibit their enforcement by federal officials. Additionally, the bill not only provides sanction for arming teachers, but specifies that they can be fired if they refuse to carry guns. Pure nuttery that contributes to Missouri’s growing reputation as a preserve for rightwing buffoons.
Of course this law violates the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause and was quite correctly vetoed by Governor Nixon. However, it seems likely that the veto will be overturned and Missouri citizens will eventually have to pick up the costs of defending this exercise in idiocy in the courts – where it will almost decidedly be overruled.
And what is worse, the Governor’s veto may be overturned by virtue of complicit Democrats in the House. Reps. Keith English (D-68), Ben Harris (D-118), and T.J. McKenna (D-114) have all indicated that they’ll vote to override. Even worse yet is that two of these Democrats don’t even necessarily think that HB436 is a good law – they’re just going along to get along. Rep. McKenna noted that:
We love our guns and we love hunting. It’s not worth the fight for me to vote against it, […] the bill is completely unconstitutional, so the courts are going to have to throw it out.
Rep. Harris was even more explicit about why he plans to vote to override:
“Being a rural-area Democrat, if you don’t vote for any gun bill, it will kill you,” Harris said. “That’s what the Republicans want you to do is vote against it, because if you vote against it, they’ll send one mailer every week just blasting you about guns, and you’ll lose” re-election.”
Rep. Ed. Schieffer (D-011), who claims to be still undecided, has much the same message – which is that lots of Missourians won’t tolerate common sense in their lawmakers:
“I personally believe that any higher court will probably rule this particular gun law unconstitutional – on that, I probably agree that the governor’s right,” Schieffer said. “But I may end up still voting for the gun bill, because I don’t want to be on record for not supporting guns.”
Rep. Keith English alone seems to be willing to overlook the legal problems with the poorly conceived bill, instead evidently subscribing to the prevailing GOP belief that the mere mention of the 2nd amendment, however inappropriate, banishes the rest of the constitution:
“I represent Democrats, of course, but I’m also a gun supporter,” English says. “This is a huge Second Amendment supporting state. I’m here to speak for those people.”
So there you have it. This is the type of crazy political culture that Missouri has to offer its young college graduates or high achieving graduates from other states who may be considering a job offer in Missouri. If you were a bright young thing and the world were your oyster, would you be willing to locate in a state that has become a laughing stock, where government is obviously tanking, and a sizable majority of its citizens don’t care so long as their lawmakers talk that good ol’ 2nd amendment talk?