Engler Again Points Right Direction

April 26, 2002
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Michigan Gov. John Engler set another proactive course last week in his last State of the State message. Detractors comment that he suggested few details of work to relieve budget and education problems (primarily). But the governor has spent more than a decade teaching the rest of the world that achievements in any area are possible, not through what is in the box of current paradigms, but in new research in shapes still being developed.

This notion is particularly difficult for people who dislike change or prefer operating under familiar, "proven" circumstances that, so far, have proven over and again to fail. What was the definition for insanity?

Engler's focus is squarely on the future, but that does not imply that current issues are being ignored. It suggests Engler embraces this awkward, early stage of emerging technology and sees that government does not have the answers. The proposals to maintain and step up to retooling for emerging business in energy efficiencies and biotechnology include Michigan universities and incentives for the private sector. And those are the jobs with which our children are now, and will be, concerned.

His proposal for a high-speed infrastructure, initially announced near year end, is not a government program to put a "chicken in every pot" but to provide access, equitably across both peninsulas, public and private.

High-speed infrastructure is how business operates. Engler's oft-heard comparison of information-highway-wired communities to the old interstate highways bypassing certain communities is exactly appropriate. Further, its educational value is equal to having access to every book, right from home or office.

Who would have suggested even a dozen years ago that it would not be advantageous to make books available to children and students in public libraries? Private industry has over and again complained that it is too expensive to wire rural areas or poor areas where individuals could not afford services. Public and private entities began experimenting with pricing that now ranges from deep gouge to comparatively cheap. Suggesting more uniform rates is the heart of business suggestions to get Michigan wired.

Michigan's success has been cited with national rankings time and again. Most recently Michigan's delivery of on-line government services was given top 10 rank — for the third time — and its Web site is considered one of the nation's best, by two independent sources. Cyber courts are next.

Engler's job is to lead and the journey to which he points is exactly right. Business has already been through this crucible, and understands its necessity. BXJ

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