April 10, 2007

A Must-Read on Michigan’s Economic Situation

Filed under: Economy,Soc. Sec. & Retirement,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:17 am

Too bad this Saturday op-ed by David Littman of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in the Wall Street Journal was behind the pay wall, because what it said about Michigan’s economy needs to be read by all.

First, Littman describes the pervasive nature of the state’s economic problems (bolds are mine):

Conditions suggest that it’s more than a problem with the auto industry. Most recently the state has also experienced losses of headquarters and jobs in financial and pharmaceutical sectors, e.g., Comerica Bank and Pfizer. Even lumber yards, motels and other low-profile employers are hurting.

Underpinning this downturn are a few economic myths that must be dispelled. Perhaps the most pernicious myth is that Michigan is caught in a cyclical recession.

While chief economist of Comerica Bank, I tracked monthly index movements of the state economy over a 50-year period. What I found in the data is disconcerting: Michigan is not in a cyclical decline. Quite the contrary. Vehicle sales in the U.S. have averaged 17 million units over the past five years. Our decline has been a trend, a steady downward slide.

Net out-migration from Michigan, according to the nation’s largest household moving company, has been occurring for 30 consecutive years. As of early 2007, the net out-migration of firms and population is so profound that some rental car companies in the state no longer allow one-way rentals. Their fear is they won’t find anyone to return the vehicles.

Then he notes that governor’s prescriptions for a turnaround will only make things worse:

Her recent call to impose a 2% tax on most services is a nonstarter. But she’s also calling for a new tax on the estates of wealthy residents, giving those with the means an even more urgent reason to leave. Michigan’s slide will continue.

Littman advocates abolishing the state’s income tax (an idea that needs to be imitated in Ohio), passing right-to-work legislation, and getting a grip on out-of-control public employee retirement entitlements. Those are good starts; he has more suggestions in a radio interview here.

What won’t work is more of what Governor Granholm is pushing.

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UPDATE: Beyond parody — “An iPod for Every Kid?” The Detroit News reacts (HT Large Bill).

Perhaps the Fans of Ohio’s Proposed Tobacco-Fund Securitization Can Explain Away This

Filed under: Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:12 am

From the most recent release of a periodic e-mail sent by John Becker of Clermont County (Becker is the one and only county official who voted against Bob Bennett’s ruinous continuance as Ohio GOP Chairman):

Tom Brinkman sent me the following:

Ohio’s settlement with the tobacco companies in 1998 set up six foundations to fund spending on several areas which benefit the entire state. Most people know about the work of the Ohio School Facilities Commission to build new school buildings. One of the other funds was the Southern Ohio Agriculture and Community Development Fund that served to persuade and support tobacco farmers as they transition from growing tobacco to other crops or products. This fund was scheduled to allocate $229 million this decade and is very important to river counties where most of Ohio’s tobacco is grown. Governor Strickland’s proposal to securitize the tobacco funds and then spend it on “giveaways” to his Democrat constituency will put an end to this Fund and leave many of our area farmers high and dry.

The “irony” is that if Brinkman is correct, many of the people getting the shaft will be those who live in and around the area where Ted Strickland was raised.

So is Tom Brinkman somehow wrong? Or does Ted Strickland really not care about the loss of promised monies in “his” area? (A related note — As revealed last year, Southeastern Ohio wasn’t even “his” area when Ted Strickland “represented” it in Congress from 2002 until 2006; informed observers know darn well that he lived in Columbus most of the time, and perhaps nearly all of the time, he was not in Washington.)

Excerpt for the Day: It’s Time to Ban Swimming Pools

John Stossel, from his excellent column last week about our media-influenced perceptions of risk (bold is mine):

What do you think is more dangerous, a house with a pool or a house with a gun? When, for “20/20,” I asked some kids, all said the house with the gun is more dangerous. I’m sure their parents would agree. Yet a child is 100 times more likely to die in a swimming pool than in a gun accident.

Parents don’t know that partly because the media hate guns and gun accidents make bigger headlines. Ask yourself which incident would be more likely to be covered on TV.

Media exposure clouds our judgment about real-life odds.

Stossel didn’t express the sentiment I’ve inserted into the post title, but given the viewpoints frequently voiced by the anti-gun crowd, he certainly, and sarcastically, could have.

This Is Weak, Even By What’s Left of Old Media ‘Standards’

A few days ago, Ray Robison at American Thinker caught Time Magazine lying about the extent of the training provided to an American soldier who died in Iraq.

Mr. Robison had a “secret weapon” at his disposal:

But something just didn’t sit right with me. I immediately knew this wasn’t the full story. So I used a journalistic research tool, possibly unavailable to Time, called Google.

Zheesh.

An American Thinker letter writer chimed in with more support.

Positivity: Maryland Boy Scout earned every merit badge available

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

Not the 21 merit badges needed to become an Eagle Scout, but 121. Wow.