TYREE: Is your town bribing new residents?

Published 6:25 am Friday, May 18, 2018

The fact that the U.S. unemployment rate is at a 17-year low does have a downside.

(And not just the downside of our being unable to escape hearing Hillary moan, “Now the Electoral College will NEVER call me back and apologize for delaying my ascendancy over the deplorables!”)

According to the Wall Street Journal, since the recession of 2007-2009 caused a population migration to larger cities, the number of people in their PRIME WORKING YEARS (defined as “ages 25 to 54” by whippersnappers whose rear ends I would kick if I weren’t afraid of blowing my annual chiropractic budget) has stagnated in small cities and suburbs. The number of “desirable” workers has actually FALLEN in towns and rural areas.

So even when non-urban factories are eager to run wide open, if they can’t find workers (or at least workers who don’t complain, “This ain’t the way Mr. Orville and Mr. Wilbur used to do it”), they’ll shut down – perpetuating a vicious cycle of high school graduate exoduses, deteriorating tax bases and reduced services. (“Tommy! Quit putting that Silly Putty in your sister’s hair! The mayor says it’s your turn to use it to patch the pot holes!”)

As the Journal article titled “Cities offer cash to lure workers” indicates, some feisty communities are fighting back against the slow decline into ghost towns. (“Some folks still think declining into a Bigfoot town or an alien autopsy town is sort of cool, though.”)

Yes, towns have come up with incentives such as contributing $5,000 toward student loan relief and offers of free land on which to build a home.

Incentives may come from employers, municipalities, local foundations or the creepy guy on the edge of town who has all those mysterious mounds in his back yard.

I feel sorry for young adults who pack up and move just to take advantage of the enticements offered by a struggling town. They’ll be under constant scrutiny and tremendous pressure to single-handedly revitalize the community. Everyone will expect them to work double shifts, run the church bazaar and chair the annual Frog Spew Festival. (“Oh, you’re the Ms. Kincaid I’ve heard so much about. A doctorate in computer science AND childbearing hips!”)

Remember when fake IDs were designed to make you seem OLDER? If towns get into bidding wars over young prospective residents, we may see a whole new kind of deception. (“I’m the sort of person you want in your community. I’m trendy. I’m hip. I’m WOKE. Uh, did they woke me in time for bingo and ‘The Lawrence Welk Show’?”)

Of course, for these outreach programs to work, townspeople will have to look at the Big Picture and see the long-term benefits of the chamber of commerce conducting a public ceremony to hand over a “Publishers Clearinghouse”-size check.Efforts will fizzle if some jealous grouch is wearing a T-shirt that declares, “My great-grandfather settled this town and all I got was this lousy T-shirt relating how he got malaria, snakebite and scalping.”

Finally, cities must do a masterful job of spin control when selling themselves to young urban workers, or their campaigns will bear the STENCH OF DESPERATION. (“Shucks, I’m not worried about the stench of desperation. If the wind cooperates, the stench of Miller’s HOG FARM will cover it up. Dang! Don’t tell me I lost the job as campaign spokesperson, too!”)

Danny Tyree is a humor and popular culture columnist