2013 FOURTH PLACE ESSAY
by Natalie Zeigler, Age 18
Submitting Teacher: Dana Ingram
I live at the end of the road in Joseph, Oregon. Job availability in my small country town is slim. Entry-level opportunities at restaurants, gas stations, and many other places are being filled by adults who can't find work anywhere else. Most adults here are working even more than one job to stay afloat, limiting opportunities for high school students. Families sell milk, eggs, and produce from their garden for a little extra cash. The government hasn't succeeded at all in creating jobs for my county. It has shut down my town's lumber mill and also many small family-owned businesses. Government would help rural America by staying out of our way.
In March 2012, Wallowa County had an official unemployment rate of 14% (Google Public Data). Unofficially, the real percentage is closer to 25%. It is extremely hard for most people to get through the winter here. Wallowa Lake and our local bronze factories give my small town its life in the summer, but during the winter many businesses close up shop. During President Obama's February 12thState of the Union Address, he said, "After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over 6 million new jobs" (The Wall Street Journal). The Associated Press states that the president has misrepresented this information. They state, "Obama starts his count not when he took office, but from the point in his first term when job losses were the highest. In doing so, he ignores the five million or so jobs that were lost on his watch, up to that point" (Woodward).
While government has failed to create jobs in my county, the people here have individually prevailed. Family owned and operated cattle ranches are still in business. During the summer, small businesses sprout up and then die away once the tourists leave. We have a farmers' market twice a week where families can sell produce and homemade items. Several bronze factories have earned a great reputation world-wide. Arnold Schwarzenegger had eight bronze statues of himself made in one of our bronze factories (Wallowa.com). There are many local musicians that find work with the Wallowa Valley Music Alliance. Despite high unemployment and a national recession, this town has been able to hold on and make jobs on its own.
I had a unique way of finding a job for myself. During my senior year, I enrolled in an entrepreneur class. We had to start our own businesses and make a sale within a month. I started a furniture repainting and refinishing business called Laddie's. I only invested $100 dollars in start up costs, and later made every cent and even more back. I go to antique and resale stores and buy old wooden items. After sanding and painting them with chalk paint, I wax the items to a shine. I did not take any loans from the bank, nor did I receive any government assistance. Last year, Obama stated, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that" (Tapper). It is infuriating to hear that from my president. Did the government help me in any way to start my business? It didn't.
In John Stossel's video, No They Can't,he talks about individual companies like X-Prize and Virgin Galactic succeeding where government failed. It's a great idea to only pay for success. Owning my own business has taught me that for my business to survive I have to get results. If I fail, I have no one to blame but myself. X-Prize has hit on a good way to get things done. The government should learn from that foundation.
Government stepping out of the way helps businesses. My business is going to grow without the government's "regulations" to keep it in line. The small businesses in my town are working hard to stay afloat. The government didn't help them succeed or grow. Hard working families and individuals have kept this town running.
"Full Text: Obama's State of the Union Address." The Wall Street Journal. 12 February 2013. Web. 13 February 2013.
Ruth, Rob. "Arnold Schwarzenegger likes his likeness." Wallowa.com. 7 September 2011. Web. 13 February 2013.
Tapper, Jake. "Did Obama Say, If You've Got a Business, You Didn't Build That'?" ABC News. 16 July 2012. Web. 13 February 2013.
"Unemployment Rate Wallowa County Oregon." Google Public Data. December 2012. Web. 13 February 2013.
Woodward, Calvin. "FACT CHECK: Overreaching in State of Union speech." Yahoo News. 13 February 2013. Web. 13 February 2013.