Watching public services die in Michigan so that businesses get a tax break

Michigan Republicans owe me $57.50

My kids are in town today and we decided to drive to The Henry Ford to see The Hobbit in 3D and Imax (squee!) It had been snowing and blowing for a couple hours and there were three inches or so of snow on the ground. The road in front of our house was pretty slick but I knew that, once I got on I-94, the main highway into Detroit, I’d be fine. It’s a main artery, after all, with heavy truck and commuter traffic.

We got 5 miles down the highway and decided that it was simply too dangerous to continue. We saw three accidents with cars and trucks in the ditch, one all the way into the woods on the side of the road.

For three inches of snow.

Now, if we were in the south somewhere, I could understand this being an issue. Southern states aren’t equipped for a lot of snow. They don’t have the snow plows or the salt stockpiles to respond effectively.

But this is Michigan. We get snowfalls like this regularly in a normal winter. This year, however, it appears that our state level and regional road commissions have decided to dramatically curtail plowing and salting of roads during a minor snowfall that was predicted well in advance. During a holiday week, too, when people are traveling more than usual.

It’s pretty maddening. I bought the show tickets online last night and The Henry Ford has a no refunds at all policy (yes, we called and begged.) So we’re out $57.50 because the roads during a minor snowstorm were impassable and dangerous.

It’s time we all start getting used to this, probably across the country. The “strangle the government” Republicans have wrung so much revenue out of state and local governments that they are going to be forced to start cutting way back on services.

Having crime problems in your neighborhood? Sorry, police forces are being cut. Firefighters, too, by the way.

Wish your kid had more art and music classes and extra-curricular sports opportunities? Sorry, schools have to pay the price so we can give billions in tax breaks to businesses.

Sad to see your local parks or our beautiful state parks becoming trashy and not well cared for? Sorry, there isn’t money for full staffing.

Want to drive on our highways after three inches of snow have fallen? Sorry, that’s something you USED to be able to do. Not now, though.

What’s next? Less oversight at our water treatment and water testing facilities? Less oversight of our air quality or food supplies?

Will businesses do the very easy calculus and decide that low taxes are nice but crumbling infrastructure and diminished quality of life for its employees aren’t a good trade off? You bet they will.

The so-called “patriots” that revile government so much are directly responsible for seeing to it that our quality of life is diminished. The things that our government does for us that we all take for granted are going to start coming into sharp relief as they disappear.

Do me a favor, if you supported the tea party or any of these drown-government-in-a-bathtub Republicans, I don’t want to hear any complaining from you when the services and protections you receive from your government begin to degrade. Because, frankly, YOU are directly responsible for that happening.

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  • t

    So sad that people don’t realize that government equals public services. When cuts are made, they are cutting services on which the average person relies. The Republicans who insist on cuts to education, healthcare, public areas… Don’t rely on these services and would rather not pay for them. In fact if they can profit, such as the case of Charter schools, they treat us like serfs who should pay the Lord of education their piece of the pie.

  • la58

    And when they complain people are showing up late for work, guess who will hear it first. Me and you!

  • Harold

    It’s unfortunate that that your words will fall on deaf ears, who are so intrenched in their idology, that they will never admit to their foolishness. I wish it was already 2014 before many forget the ignorance the the GOP has befallen on us.

  • Kathy S.

    I’m still thinkin’ about the $57.50.

  • http://www.illustratedbykarenjones.com/ Karen Jones

    Typo. Seventh paragraph. Last word should be services. :)

    I agree with your post. You know, when the roads don’t get cleared, the employees can’t get to work, and clients get unhappy. And when the roads don’t get cleared, the ambulances firefighters, and police can’t get where they’re going either. When roads are closed, people can’t get to the stores to do their shopping. When roads are dangerous, people have accidents. (Usually just going off the side and getting stuck, but sometimes more serious or even fatal.) All sorts of serious problems happen when roads are shut down due to impassible snow.

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      Thanks! Damn auto correct!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ernest.stewart.31 Ernest Stewart

    Please don’t get started on Governor Hitler, oops my bad, Emperor Hitler!

  • BillW

    We drove to Metro today and I thought the same thing many times – Leslie counted 13 cars spun out driving to and back. Took us 3.5 hours to get there and back – usually it’s an hour. And yes, water quality IS compromised. So is food safety and highway bridges, (remember Minneapolis!). We don’t even travel on the roads in York Township when it’s snowing – even a light snow makes them dangerous.

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      Great comment, Bill. Thanks.

  • pointsetter

    Here’s an interesting concept: Fewer jobs means less tax revenue for all levels of government. Your comments are single focused on the “state” when in fact you have to pass over many city and county roads before you can get to a state maintained road. So if the state maintained road was so bad, why didn’t you just stay on the city or county maintained roads? Most likely they were just as bad, or maybe even worse. Why? Because there is less tax revenue at all levels of government. Why? Back to my original point … there are fewer jobs producing less tax revenue. So stop blaming everyone else for your mistake, you too knew that the snow was coming and you took a risk by purchasing nonrefundable tickets. Suck it up!

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      I did not ignore local road commissions and they are mentioned in the piece. But if you think they are struggling because if less jobs then you haven’t been paying attention to what Republicans have been doing for the past two years. They shove more and more services back to cities and counties while reducing their revenue sharing and, now, PPT revenues that are not being replaced 100% in most cases.
      It’s only been recently that you couldn’t drive on the highways after a mild snowfall and you know it. If this is okay by you, just say it. But let’s not pretend its always been this way and let’s also not pretend its not because the Republicans haven’t slashed our local and state government budgets because they have. They admit it and they are proud of it. These tea partiers are doing exactly what they set out to do though they did conveniently forget to mention that during their campaigns.
      There are a lot of elements to attracting businesses to a state. The only Republicans seem aware of us cutting taxes and smashing unions. Both of these create a race to the bottom that fails in the long term. These are simple facts and they are playing out before our eyes.

  • Cooper

    So…you blame republicans for the poor governing of Detroit and Wayne county? Did you just move here?

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      I never mentioned Detroit and Wayne counties. I live in Washtenaw County.

      And, yes, I blame the Republicans for their actions which have heavily impacted the budgets in our local and county municipalities. Absolutely. More services are being pushed down to the local level while they have reduced revenue sharing and other tax revenue sources, most recently the Personal Property Tax without replacing them.

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