City, state policy approach faulty

March 30, 2009
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Grand Rapids City Commission is considering a protectionist stance in regard to expenditures of federal stimulus money and its use only for “local jobs.” The proposal to craft such a resolution somewhat mirrors action by Michigan legislators who approved the Hire Michigan First initiative in the state House, and which is now before the Senate.

Both the state and local proposals are little more than a politician’s cheerleading while losing the game, and evidence of continuing to stick one’s intellectually bankrupt head in the sand.

The federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds are a temporary bridge made of straw, and that, at least, is acknowledged by those taking the loan that indebts the next generation, but such actions to formally proclaim this state or this city as isolationist has longer term consequences that extend the problems from which the world is attempting to recover. One wonders whether the homegrown politicians have yet realized it is a world-wide crisis.

City commissioners used the example of T-shirts as defense of their proposal. The federal officials who met with city leaders to forge ahead on test marketing the one-dollar coins in Grand Rapids gave commissioners commemorative T-shirts made in Guatemala.  Some commissioners were offended. City commissioners are reliant on providing services with citizen tax dollars based on citizen income. The income related to making T-shirts will not fill city or state coffers as quickly as the intellectual property income earned by those who created the slogans. Should state and city coffers be filled by the penny or the dollar? Should the city begin to mirror a third-world ghetto or a bastion of intellectual property and creative entrepreneurs?

The “debate” has tentacles, too, to the federal discussion over “bailout” funds for the entire auto industry — centering on “foreign” versus “domestic” automakers, even though the “foreign” autos are made by American autoworkers.

The state legislation is made more appalling by the unvarnished attempt to basically require union wages and the hiring of unionized companies for work related to Michigan’s use of federal stimulus funds. It is the same union greed that imbalanced the costs of auto manufacturing on the world playing field. Americans clearly liked the lesser priced quality offered in competition in this flat world. The state’s attempt to prop up only unemployed union labor is an abhorrent slap in the face of all workers.

Government again is threatening to create artificial roadblocks to the very prosperity clearly needed. Perhaps it has not occurred to city commissioners that the Van Andel Institute and other health care institutions in this city are attempting to hire more than 500 new scientific researchers as well as health care specialists — from around the world. It is a worldwide search, partly for the lackadaisical educational choices of families, especially in Michigan, where even a year ago, parents polled did not believe a college or higher education was necessary for their children.

One must ask in what millennium these people are living and beg that they not condemn the rest of us to live it (again) with them.

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