I would like to welcome all of our witnesses to the second hearing of the Economic Policy Subcommittee of the 108th Congress. I am very happy that we have 3 of my fellow Kentuckians on the panel today.
Since our first hearing in May on increasing investment in the equity markets, the Dow has gone up over 590 points, and the NASDAQ has risen over 115 points. I understand a tax bill might have passed that day, but I give full credit to our hearing. Hopefully, Chairman Greenspan won't screw up, and will cut rates another 50 basis points this afternoon. We want to bring the same results we brought to the equity markets to rural America.
For our second hearing, I would like to focus on the economy in rural America. During the tech boom of the 90s, our economy experienced rapid growth. Productivity has increased at historic rates. The equity markets grew to record levels. So much so that there were many examples of janitors at tech companies becoming millionaires because of their stock options. I hope now they sold those stocks before the bubble burst.
Rural America, for the most part, did not experience that rapid growth. The tech boom did help, especially to increase productivity. Many farmers use Global Position Systems (GPS) to assist in running their farms. The internet also has been a huge help to make farmers more productive. But rural America did not experience the same "highs" many other parts of America did during the 90s. Fortunately, they also have not experienced the same lows of this last recession, but they still lag behind.
I would like to talk about where we are today in rural America. What the state of the economy is currently and what we see for its future. I would also like to talk about what we can do to help grow the rural economy. In many parts of Kentucky and the rest of the country, our young people are leaving the rural areas because they don't believe they will be able to get jobs. We must change that.
I am very happy to have the Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service, Hilda Legg here today. Also, the Dean of the Kentucky School of Agriculture, Scott Smith. We also have the Vice President of the Kentucky Farm Bureau, Mark Haney. I used my Chairman's prerogative to stack the deck with Kentuckians. I am very thankful you agreed to take time out of your busy schedules to testify here today and I look forward to your testimony.