It’s been awhile since I have taken a math course or counted capital gains from an oil deal, but I think I might just understand math better than Roy Brown. In a story about Governor Schweitzer’s latest ad that claims Montana is one of the fastest growing economies in the nation, the Brown campaign offered this impressive response:
Brown’s campaign countered with a June 2008 Bureau of Economic Analysis report that said Montana real GDP ranked 47th nationally in 2007. It’s important to look at the size of Montana’s GDP, not just the growth, the campaign said. With Montana’s low overall GDP, the state tends to have a strong percentage increase in GDP, even as its actual economic growth often lags behind other states, Brown’s campaign said.
I’ve read this a number of times, trying to figure out what Brown is complaining about. It seems like, in his desperate strategy to criticize Montana at every turn, he managed to confuse himself just a bit. Economic growth is measured as a percentage change, not actual dollars. Yes, Montana does have a low overall real GDP—it might have something to do with being a sparsely populated state.
The Montana economy is doing very well, bucking national trends. Sure, our Real GDP is, and always will be one of the lowest in the country—and we certainly can’t expect Governor Schweitzer to have reversed 16 years of disastrous Republican rule in one term, but to suggest that growth isn’t a valid measure of the economy’s success, is absurd.
You don’t take my word for it. What does Entrepeneur Magazine say about Montana? It says Roy Brown is wrong:
Wheat selling at greater than $8/bushel turbocharged the crops sector of Montana agriculture during late 2007. Montana’s economic base is now firing on almost all cylinders, and the state is completing a record-breaking streak of four straight years of greater than 4 percent real growth. Looking to the future, annual growth of 4 percent is likely to continue into 2008 and maybe even beyond.
The state’s strong economic performance is attributable to buoyant conditions in most basic industries.
In my book, an economy “firing on almost all cylinders” is something to celebrate, not something to criticize with misleading figures. If we want to keep Montana’s economy rolling, I say we stick with someone who understands basic economics, and who has positive message for Montana’s future.
Gloomy Roy, who sees a cloud around every silver lining, just isn’t the answer.