Politics As Usual

June 16, 2003
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The Age of Ethics? Enron and Arthur Andersen surely have become the eternal flame to the word “ethics,” but even as the scorching continues politicians are moving as usual (except for Gary Condit, who had his seat tossed).

As term limits tank a good portion of sitting state leaders, Michigan’s open season is becoming more apparent for now-initiated action plans hatched the past three years. The GOP troopers in Kent County have been spending plenty of time east of Lansing, shoring up gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus. How much they can help is unclear: These same Republicans claim they don’t understand how Jim, Jen or Ed McNamara can be associated in the same sentence without it becoming political poison (“though there have never been any indictments…”).

We were interested to learn accounting firm owner Paul Hense had been drawn into the battle on Posthumus’ behalf, but then, as we were reminded, “Dick owns a farm, and a farm is the original small business. He is genuinely a good person, and people in Oakland and McComb (counties) are finding that out,” sayeth Hense, who also has been able to convince minority business owner and current Small Business Association of Michigan Chairman Trent Harbin. Hense and east-sider Harbin believe they’ve convinced SBAM to endorse Posthumus.

**Grand Rapids Business Journal staff called GRBJ Small Business Matters columnist Hense for an update of state hearings on health insurance access and affordability, an issue on which he’s built a memorable reputation in D.C., particularly among bureaubrats. “Where does all that money go? Rates go up again 40 percent, and from what I know, (the money) did not go to medical care. So, who got the money?” Hense asked rhetorically.

Of particular note, Hense said, is what is now referred to as “legacy costs”: the cost of providing medical care to those who have retired under contract provisions made 10-15 years ago. “You know, I think small business will survive, will figure out ways to deal with this problem. But big business is in real trouble, and therefore, taxpayers are in real trouble…”

Hense has been invited back to Washington for another round on Capitol Hill June 4 and 5, in regard to a Small Business Tax Equity Bill and a provision allowing small business owners to deduct their health care cost, as employees are allowed. While Hense’s testimony is said to have been “of legend” in past hearings, apparently Hense, too, has learned from Washingtonians: “James Carville told me once, you don’t go to a gunfight without a gun. You get killed if you don’t bring your gun. And then he wanted to know what’s wrong with small business owners. He told me if we come to a Washington fight over money, then we better bring some money. If we don’t bring money, we are going to get killed.”

Is Hense taking money to Washington this time?

“We’re taking some lawyers,” he said.

** So … was it an endorsement? Or perhaps just a compliment intended to score political points with a Senate colleague as he pushes to get rid of Michigan’s Certificate of Need program.

Whatever it was, state Sen. GlennSteil, chairman of the Kent County GOP, caught the attention of more than a few people at a Senate Health Policy Committee hearing last week when he offered to Sen. John Schwarz: “You’d make a fine governor.”

Schwarz, R-Battle Creek, is running for the GOP nomination for governor against Posthumus, who’s trailing badly in the polls to two Democratic contenders.

**We hear the brain trust of the new Grand Rapids Art Museum has narrowed its choices for architect to four — all out-of-town firms.

But “out of town” doesn’t necessarily mean it will cost more money, despite the Van Andel Institute’s and Grand Rapids City Commission’s examples to the contrary.

Nope, this time the GRAMers are taking a different tack. When asked whether MayaLin might be enlisted to design the new museum, since it’s situated next to her current (and really expensive) GR landmark, their Dutch roots took hold.

What we’re really looking for, they said, is the next Maya Lin (or RaphaelVinoly) to do this project. Some young architect who is willing to turn the design of the new museum into a real resume-builder. Someone who is “fresh” and on the “cutting edge.”

In other words, an intern who’s willing to work for peanuts?

Well, not that cheap. But the stewards of PeterWege’s money are certainly cost-conscious, and that’s a good philosophy during these economic times.

**Many parents hope their children grow up to be the next MichaelJordan, MiaHamm, KurtWarner or SarahHughes. Sports superstardom, in today’s society, is the ticket to fame and fortune, and many an hour is spent on the playing fields, in the gymnasium or at the rink.

But according to the author of a new book directed at children and their parents, that’s a waste of time.

RonJarrett’s book, “Discovering the Millionaire in Every Child — Mastering the Decisions that Define Your Life,” outlines a series of “time-proven strategies” parents and teachers can use to help young people develop the awareness they need to live wealth-filled lives, defined by purpose and service to the world around them.

In short, Jarrett, a former professor at Florida A&M University, an attorney and a financial consultant, promises to help children get their “wealth groove on.”

“The irony of growing up in America is that while our system is based on capitalism and wealth-building, few of our children are ever shown how to flourish in this environment.”

So if you want your child to aspire to be the next Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, RichDeVos or JayVanAndel, toss the sports equipment and get out the reading lamp.

“School will lead some children to success, but the principles of personal economics and purposeful decision-making will help all children find success,” said Jarrett, who is president of The Street Savvy Kid’s Educational Group. The book will be published this spring. For more (capitalist) information, visit www.streetsavvykids.org

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