Governor Snyder persists in his feelgood announcements about Michigan job growth, but he does hedge his enthusiasm because too many of us observe the realities of what is now passing as “job growth.” Yes, reality rains on Snyder’s parade every time. Most of those non-automotive jobs are low paying part time jobs that keep people zigzagging back and forth across the poverty line and keep one out of four Michigan children in poverty.
It’s clear that Governor Snyder recognizes the tepid nature of Michigan’s recovery which is why he continues to point to Detroit’s emergence from bankruptcy and why he is currently courting Pure Michigan tourism by people living in the nearest large cities, Cleveland, Chicago, and others, including China. While there has been some growth in tourism here, it has not kept pace with the rate of growth in the rest of the nation.
Michigan’s manufacturing and steel workers used to provide strong support of the tourism sector with camping, hunting, and fishing trips across the state. Hunting was so popular that Opening Day and Hunters’ Weekend were built into the calendars of industry, education, and other sectors. Today the same population is staying at home, streaming movies from Netflix to entertain their families, and worrying about how to pay the utility bills to keep the household functioning. Even local travel has become unaffordable.
At some point it may become clear to the Governor that Michigan corporations must join with the other flesh and blood “persons” and pony up because low incomes and reduced consumer spending will not generate sufficient tax revenue to pay the road bills. Job growth is traditionally greatest among start-up businesses so that’s the sector that should be the target for business tax breaks, not the well established, high-profit businesses that are off-shoring jobs or replacing workers with foreign built technology, thus doubling the assault on the Michigan worker and assuring toxic levels of income inequality well into the future. And road repairs should not be paid for by denying those who will do the actual work a fair wage, something the GOP is all too eager to do.
That easy no-tax posture taken by the GOP has given them too much time to dwell on the Smith, Courser, Gamrat scandals — we’re a nation that’s used to being governed by sinners; nothing new there — thereby creating the illusion of “working”. It really is time to bind the lawmakers to their desks and force them to do their highly-paid jobs. Distracting shiny scandal objects, obsessions with dictating reproductive conduct, and indifference to the needs of the entire population, especially non-voter children, will continue to be the undoing of this once proud state.
The self-congratulation and figurative champagne cork popping that one hears from the Governor’s office has been drowning out the truth that Michigan still looks like this on the child poverty map and still sounds like this as our vehicles hit our weathered potholes. Perhaps that fifth junket to China will result in moving Michigan out of the economic doldrums, although it’s unclear just what the Governor is seeking from the Chinese. Certainly the trip is a more cheery, bubbly, and otherwise pleasant proposition than staying here to do some good old fashioned arm twisting of our legislators to get them to solve our problems.