Demographics, as economists say, is destiny. Maine’s destiny is bleak. In many counties, deaths outnumber births. Young people are leaving. Those that stay in Maine are, generally, less educated. Manufacturing jobs are drying up and not being replaced.

If Maine wants to reverse this trend of economic decline and stagnation, it must adopt innovative policies and back them up with significant long-term financing.

This doesn’t happen because an investment in early childhood education, for example, won’t show results before the next election. Creating new employment training programs at the community college system won’t suddenly draw a carmaker to Maine. So, policymakers nibble around the edges of the problem and nothing really changes.

To change the dynamic, the BDN will paint an accurate picture of Maine and its future if changes aren’t made. How does the performance of Maine’s students compare to those from other states and countries? Does Maine have a workforce that will attract employers?

We will host live events that show Maine’s situation is stark reality. For example, we’ll track 100 babies (in quick time, not real time) through key points in life. How many will go to a high-quality child care center? How many will graduate from high school? Drop out? What is the difference in lifetime earnings for the high school graduate versus the college grad? What options do the extra money open up?

Once people have a true sense of when Maine is and where it is headed, we can begin the debate on what must be done to put the state on a different track.