Some Interesting Soundbites From Toyota Plant Press Conference

Toyota yesterday announced it is building a new plant in Mississippi. During the webcast of the press event, a few quotes jumped out at me.

Senator Trent Lott (Rep) was raving about the secrecy about the selection of Mississippi held by government and Toyota staffers. I knew more than a month ago the fix was in for Mississippi, though I confess that I didn’t have the site near Tupelo fixed.

Second, Lott said of Toyota: “We are warriors on your behalf. We will look after your interests.” Someone had better tell Lott that his party is out of power on the committees. Senator Carl Levin (Dem-MI) and Rep. John Dingell (Dem-Mich.), both of whom are poised to start pushing an agenda more favorable to GM and Ford, have a lot more stick these days than you do.

Lastly, I found it at least amusing that The Toyota and Missisippi officials kept blathering about the education level of Mississipians being a key factor in Toyota choosing the state for its new factory.

At the risk of sounding elitist, just how much education is required to work on an assembly line?

And secondly, while I certainly have no ill will for the fine people of Mississippi, just what statistics are they examining when they hold Mississippi education up as a standard for anything. In an annual ranking of states by independent research publisher Morgan Quitno Press, the state ranks 48th out of 50 for education. The ranking is based on 21 key elementary and secondary education indicators of expenditures for instruction, pupil-teacher ratios, high school graduation and dropout rates, and reading, writing and math proficiency.

And you’d better watch those absentee rates due to sickeness. Mississippi also was ranked 50th, last, in the union based on health. That ranking, also by Morgan Quitno, is based on infant mortality rates, the percent of population not covered by health insurance, per capita expenditures for health care, percent of population lacking access to primary medical care, childhood immunization rates, and percent of adults who smoke.

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