A More Perfect Union
 
The Cincinnati Federation of Teachers and Cincinnati Public Schools officials nailed it when they agreed to one of the nation's most progressive labor contracts.
 
Teachers' healthcare costs will double, but they will also come into line with what is happening everywhere in the embattled private sector. That's not the point. The important point, lost in the heated rhetoric, is that the public has a stake in all government business, as taxpayers, and we as a city and nation are in dire economic straits.
 
There are massive budget deficits for nearly every state (46 according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) and city, including ours, during one of the worst economic climates ever. Cuts have to come from somewhere.
 
Cincinnati City Council has yet to acknowledge that. Sacred cow unions "” some allied politically with the left, some with the right "” were protected at all costs, and the budget deal that was struck is a joke, effectively kicking the lit can of kerosene down the road.
 
Wall Street analyst Meredith Whitney, who predicted the Citigroup collapse, recently predicted that there could be 50 to 100 sizeable municipal bond defaults this year. We are in real trouble as a nation, and this is no time to play political games.
 
The local, state and national fight over pension reform ($574 billion in unfunded liabilities for municipalities, $3.3 trillion for states, according to a Northwestern University study), is going to make every political battle up to this point look like child's play. Let's just hope it stays in the courts and legislative chambers and not in the streets, unlike in Europe, where austerity riots have taken place in Athens, London, Paris and elsewhere over the past year.
 
There is a reason Merriam-Webster named "austerity" its word of the year. This isn't about union busting. It's about economic common sense and how it's related to economic common cause for the entire republic.
 
Clearly, that's something Cincinnati Public Superintendent Mary Ronan and the Teachers Federation understand.
 
                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Bringing Jobs, Two By Two
 
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear was right "” it's about jobs, development and tourism.
 
He's been criticized by some regarding state tax incentives that could surpass $37 million for a proposed Noah's Ark-themed amusement park in Grant County. The politics of religion aren't the issue here.
 
"Bringing new jobs to Kentucky is my top priority, and with the estimated 900 jobs this project will create, I am happy about the economic impact this project will have on the Northern Kentucky region," says Beshear. He has said he's not worried about Constitutional legality because of the project's religious theme.
 
The $150-million Ark Encounter will be built on 800 acres off Interstate 75, south of Williamstown. When completed in 2014, it is expected to draw 1.6 million visitors per year, according to a study commissioned by Ark Encounter LLC, which is partnering with Answers in Genesis, the nonprofit organization that built the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky.
 
An independent consultant hired by Ark Encounter estimates a $500-million economic impact in the first year of operation.
Kentucky is required by law to conduct its own study. Let's see how its findings compare to the Ark Encounter's study before revisiting any questioning of tax incentives, which, it's important to note, would only come after the park has met certain financial goals.
 
The bottom line is development, jobs and tourism will provide a much-needed boon for the region.