Sustainable Versus Unsustainable

by jhwygirl

The world runs on software. That’s not going to change.

Coal mines eventually run out of coal.

RightNow currently employs 450 in Bozeman and will be hiring an addition 100 more people in Montana, at least 60 of them for the Bozeman area. Most of those jobs require a 4-year college degree, and all come with full medical, retirement and paid time off for community volunteer work.

The entire coal industry in the State of Montana employs 1,008 people.

People are always going to need software.

What happens when all the coal is gone? I guess we can ask Butte, see what they have to say.

There’s a $150 million figure in there for RightNow, and the state’s own coal council has its numbers, too – but again, I’ll repeat – those coal figures, those coal jobs, those coal taxes – all of it – goes away once the market drops out of it or the coal is out of the ground. Plus we get that mess those mines always always always leave behind.

And regardless of how you look at those numbers over there at the Montana coal council, RightNow compares quite nicely next to not just one coal mine, but several at once.

I guess Montana just wants to be West Virgina when it grows up. Who knew.

~~~~~
And funny thing, to note – The Great Berkley Copper Pit was taken out…not by them evil union folk, no sir….but by (drumroll please…) the collapsing world market for coal, driven by some other largest and biggest and greatest discovery of copper. Somewhere in South America. Where – ironically (talking about the evils of unions/snark) – the mines were nationalized.

What is they say? – what comes around, goes around?

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  1. problembear

    having owned and operated a small business in montana which failed i have this to say about software that is designed to simulate real customer service for retention of customers of big corporations who are terrified of the “buy local” mantra catching fire…..

    good idea!

    but i do hope that eventually a healthy and sustainable movement to “buy local” levels the playing field for all those brave folk out there investing and supporting employees in their own small businesses.

  2. Lizard

    this might be a little off topic, but amy goodman on democracy now, just today, was covering the second assassination, in less than a month, of a community organizer in el salvador. this time it was a woman, Dora “Alicia” Recinos Sorto. she was eight months pregnant.

    the reason this woman was killed is because she is part of a successful community movement against a vancouver-based mining company, pacific rim, and their attempt to use CAFTA to thwart el salvador’s denial of a permit to mine the gold they’re desperate to pull from the earth.

    but it’s nothing new. where people can be exploited, they will be. where profit can maximized, it will be. and where coal or copper or oil can be extracted, it will be. just look at the tar sands in canada.

    the uncomfortable reality, though, is this: we have a dealer/junkie dynamic with extractive industries, and as anyone who deals with addiction knows, they don’t change their behavior until after hitting “rock bottom.”

  3. Maybe I’ll do a little research on the ol’ net, but maybe you folks know … why did RightNow select Bozeman? Was it because of the tax incentives that the City offered them?

    Or was it the quality of life that living amidst the splendor of all that public land? Like Richard Florida says, its the tolerance of the community, the public infrastructure provided by the city, and the amount of parks and trails and wilderness areas that brings in the yuppie professionals (IT folks, architects, authors, scientists, etc.)

    • I’d darn well bet on it that Bozeman did something for them..and maybe the state? But quality of life (“amenities”) play a huge role, and Bozeman is like Jackson Hole or Estes Park or Vail in that respect (which compounds its affordable housing problem).

      Yuppie professionals don’t generally like destruction of nature – they generally like to get out an enjoy it – especially the western types.

      Where’s goof around when you need him? He’d probably know something about how RightNow got there.

  4. I’ve been pushing to bring tech to Montana since I moved to the state particularly because, as you stated jhwygirl, the consumable/extractive industries are not sustainable.

    There are a few things that I think need to happen before the tech companies will come to(and will benefit Montanans the most) or start business in Montana:

    – To encourage startups/bootstraps: Alleviate the equipment (or capital gains) for businesses that are HQed in the state and have 60% of their employees in the state.

    – Better education rates in the state. Tech companies need fairly high-qualified employees. Without better education, I foresee most companies bringing in employees from out-of-state.

    -Infrastructure. This ties into m second point: We need to get Montana wired. I have seen (purely anecdotal) students in small schools here that don’t have any idea how to search the web, let alone the rest of a computer. Also, more people/places hooked to the internet means more tech consumers.

    • Steve, you might find that I agree with your point 1 almost completely.

      Point 2, however … Montana already puts out highly qualified students in technology. We have one of the best placement rates for engineering students in the northwest, and our computer science grads are among the most desired in the region. Other than moving such education to UM, I’d be interested to read exactly what you think the problem with Montana education is .. ’cause I’m just not seeing it.

      Point 3, Montana had the only consistently profitable privately owned power company in the US, and it was traded for a ‘high-tech’ company that used public funds to lay fiber op all over the state. We now pay market rate for power, vastly higher than it should be for the state that generates it. Much of that fiber has been pulled up, and you can thank Republicans for that little fiasco.

      When it comes to tech-savvy, per-capita Montana is among the better in this country. You are welcome to focus on students from Trident and ignore all the educated consumers from Missoula and Bozeman. You’re not being specifically rational at that point, but my expectations are low. Montana is a highly educated state with a low population and an even lower comparative rate of pay. Perhaps you’d like us to become the continental US ‘India’ of technology; I don’t know. But I do know this; your complaints are not founded on an idea that serves the state.

    • I’m in complete agreement, Steve…and boy, how I appreciate that acknowledgement that a sustainable economy is preferable over an extractive one. Of late – and probably because of the “jobs” claims for Otter Creek – I am completely mystified by this call for a colonial economy.

      Our schools, too, could always do better. That’s not to say they are crappy (Wulfgar!) but that always always always there is room for improvement and investment in our education system.

      The equipment tax is a tough one – and I’d like to see any kind of tax breaks specifically targeted to high paying sustainable jobs. In fact, I’d say that it is easy to justify tax credits for the tech and medical world – they are electronics intensive.

      Regarding infrastructure, have you seen this? It seems to me that it gets fiber optic out there to more places, while overlapping with some. That overlap would increase competition…and might even encourage the smaller guys to invest and expand service.

      At least, that’s what I keep thinking. Bresnan’s invested (already) heavily in this state…and they employ here, with local offices and investments. I think it’s a good thing.

    • Lizard

      at the risk of issuing another one star comment (i would have given myself maybe a 2) i feel compelled to be the asshole’s advocate by asking how tech is any less destructive on the environment than extractive industry?

      admittedly i ask this while living in a house made primarily of wood while writing on a macbook.

  5. Lizard

    i ran across this phenomenal site which offers a comprehensive list of major 2009 coal stories. lots of links.




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