Riddle me (or him) this

Meet a brother-in-arms.  I’ve been quite impressed by a number of blogs coming out of the Pittsburgh area on the subject of economic renewal in that great city.   After reading the biographies of Carnagie and Mellon recently, I have a new found appreciation for that city.  I have visited Pittsburgh several times over the years.

This guy is blogging on the Pittsburgh diaspora and has some interesting posts.  I want to draw your attention to his riddle:

I have a riddle: Since education makes a person more likely to leave your region, how do you justify your investment in human capital?

He is looking for answers to this riddle and so am I.

7 thoughts on “Riddle me (or him) this

  1. You’ve said it before, that its not like New Brunswick needs a MASSIVE influx of industries. The area is small, and even a SMALL change can mean real economic diversity and make a big difference. So again, let’s go back to animation. If you look at the school’s teaching this, as well as home schooling, then its obvious (and often repeated here)-you have the POLICIES that help keep people there. So again, I return to the idea of a television station. With legislation like the US version of ‘public access’ you have an immediate opening for artistic talent. You have Fatkat and other animators immediately contributing-they have ‘happy tree friends’ which I believe is completely internet based. You have it available on the internet, you have an immediate connection to a worldwide audience. That’s New Brunswickers everywhere-and of course everybody else. Some of those have the quality to get picked up by foreign distributors, and boom, instant industry.

    That keeps animators in the province. It’s one piece of legislation with immediate effect. Go through the rest of the industries and do the same thing (or something similar).

  2. I don’t think FatKat will hire or train an additional 50 – 100 animators simply because there is “an immediate opening for artistic talent”. In fact, the costs for this public access TV station would be borne by taxpayers, which makes the venture a subsidy play. If you hold this up as an example of what could meet the needs of the unemployed, it sounds really lame.

    We all want animation to grow in NB, but there needs to be a business case for that growth beyond relying on “policies”.

  3. That’s hardly true and just look at the examples. The maritimes are the ONLY provinces which don’t have a provincial television channel. Obviously the initial cost would be borne by taxpayers, so is health care, the forestry department, the education department. Those aren’t called ‘subsidies’ though.

    Actually it would probably be quite easy for it to make money, since NB companies have very few low cost advertising solutions. FatKat actually just concluded a deal last year which let them hire, I can’t remember, but I think it was like twenty animators.

    TVO and other provincial television stations also tend to operate on shoestring budgets, which means little overhead. Which means taxpayer dollars at least go to create a local industry and pay local creators. As opposed to, oh I don’t know, the hundreds of millions in subsidies you’ve ALREADY paid to UPM to close down a mill, and to Irving to upgrade their technology and lay off hundreds of workers. So let’s not play the subsidy game.

    And all it takes is for ONE show from a station to really take off to pay for itself. There have been several cases of that. The CBC got a fair chunk of change when Kids in the Hall started getting airplay in the US. The Kevin Sullivan Anne series paid for itself just with international sales alone, and that has enabled numerous animation companies to benefit from the animated Anne series.

    And again, that’s something that has a benefit even larger than the financial one, and thats the cultural benefit. English New Brunswick has almost literally nothing to differentiate it from the ‘white mass’ of the rest of North America, except for some thoroughly depressing novels about the Mirimachi. And that quite simply is because there is NO avenue for cultural forms to be presented. So kids (and adults) have virtually no idea of the history of the province, its politics, even its society except for the ‘down homey’ stories of Irving and CBC.

  4. The sad fact is TVO would not now be set up in ON if it wasn’t already there. Although having such a station is a good idea, public funds just will not be made available for this. The subsidy comparison to mills isn’t apt; in those cases, people with jobs were (are) in fear of losing them. That puts pressure on politicians; there’s no comparison there wrt a TV station.

    If an outlet for talent is desired, then the only currently acceptable way of doing that would be via some type of support/subsidy for media productions involving that talent. I am not sure where that would lead to in terms of creation of high-paying jobs in NB, however. Still, that would make more sense than a TV station.

  5. There’s no doubt there isn’t a whole lot of fear that this will happen. But Canada is very much ‘ruled’ by politicians. In the case of TVO it was Bill Davis that started it up, and there was very little lobbying for it going on. For money, come on, they’re now throwing money at the walls hoping it will stick. Let’s again look at the last few years. THen go look at ACOA and provincial subsidies, its a mistake to think that its ALL just to ‘save jobs’. Most grants go to companies to CREATE jobs.

    But to media companies makes no sense. Fatkat is a media company, they did give them money, but giving them money doesn’t get them new business. A TV station is an ‘outlet’ AND a medium, again, just go look at the TVO ‘sales’.

    It’s true that you need that ‘vision’ thing to make it happen. Otherwise, the only ‘vision’, is exactly what this blog critiques against-lousy universities, lousy paying jobs, no exporters, no manufacturing, no place for creative talent to go. No TV station means all those journalism students head out west. All those animators head to other markets, because there is simply nowhere to showcase talent.

    I haven’t checked into it lately, but Acadie Urbaine is an attempt to do just that-but for the acadian population. I mentioned to the owner that Cape Breton television got a big federal grant through ACOA a couple of years ago and he was applying for the same. But his vision is the acadian population-not New Brunswick. If Cape Breton is more proactive than you, then there are BIG problems.

  6. “and there was very little lobbying for it going on. ”

    That’s doubtful. Those were the days when cancon was starting up; there was plenty of support from the chattering class for TVO and ON had money to spend.

    “For money, come on, they’re now throwing money at the walls hoping it will stick”

    Not at television stations. TV stations have been cash-cows; no rational reason for public funds to be spent.

    Your comment re cape breton tv shows the problem; they have to keep going to the public for more funds.

    If you think that animation et al is a viable industry here and that it has growth potential, then subsidizing production is more likely to be successful than a broadcasting entity. That gives them a cost-advantage. There are many channels out there looking for content. If FatKat ‘needs business’, then there is a problem with their product; a tv station won’t fix that.

    “No TV station means all those journalism students head out west.”

    That’s ridiculous; you could make the same argument for any graduate of any discipline. Is that taxpayer supposed to step in a provide them with jobs every time?

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