screw the public – A michigan rant

In Michigan we are about to run out of money for our State government. As I understand it, the bucks end on June 1. Local services in this state are in trouble. Education is being cut.

But we are largely a conservative state that abhors taxes.

Still I hear people complain that there must be too much fat in Lansing (our state capital).

In today’s local paper, Rep Arlan Meekhof tells us the gospel that tax hikes are unnecessary. (“Simple Reforms Make Tax Hike Unecessary“) I’ve linked in the story but like so many people on the web, our local paper insists on an annoying registration in order to access their site. I emailed them this early on in their web site days. But true to form, I got emails back not acknowledging my comments but arguing that I basically didn’t know what I was talking about. Screw the public.

You may think that I’m just kvetching here and indeed I am doing so (the privilege of the blog, right?). But it drives me crazy how people in the public sector don’t seem to think that they have a responsibility to the larger community. Just their own usually narrowly defined interests.

Take Meekhof for example. In his article he instantly compares our governor to a CEO of a company and “her” proposed tax hikes to raising prices.

Here’s how he says it:

“If the state of Michigan was a corporation, CEO Granholm would never even consider raising taxes. Any good CEO will tell you that when times are tough, the last thing you do is raise your prices. Yet raising prices is exactly what the governor is trying to do.”

Get it?

That makes us citizens not shareholders but customers.

I have a problem with that.

This dang business metaphor has taken over all aspects of society.

And how does Meerkof propose fixing our problems here in Michigan?

1. limited able-bodied welfare recipients to four years of benefits

2. place just 5 percent of Michigan’s prison population in privately run prisons

3.reforming public school health insurance benefits. By opening insurance contracts to competitive bids and requiring reasonable co-pays and preferred-provider networks

So cut back those dang moochers (of YOUR money) on welfare and privatize prisons and reduce health care for teachers.

But as Jack Lessenberry points out in his recent essay, “Taxing,” taxes are lower than they used to be, we don’t have enough money to educate Michigan’s children and we will never slow the rushing loss of jobs in our state by reducing infrastructure.

It’s a simple notion. You get what you pay for. If we want to have schools, roads, police, firemen and godforbid libraries, they must be paid for. By us.

We are shareholders. We are stakeholders. We don’t consume the government. Government is us.

The notion that a market philosophy will govern the society well is not working. Markets, businesses and shareholders are more interested in short term profit than long term investment.
So ultimately, greed is good and screw the public.

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