Just Get Government Out Of Way

February 11, 2005
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The news from government last week leaves one to wonder what has snapped. Proposed policy initiatives may as well have come from the moon. That President Bush is proposing a 50 percent reduction in federal revenue sharing –— especially affecting the state of Michigan — while taking the record as the president who has expanded government more than any since LBJ, leaves the most conservative among us to wonder what happened to the bastion of Republican ideals: less government, more freedom. The Grand Old Party initiatives are then followed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s wish to have voters approve a $2 billion bond issue for the “21st Century Jobs Initiative.” The state with the highest unemployment rate dares to tell its dwindling citizenry they ought to add to their tax burden … from what pocket? It is the essence of denial.

Grand Rapids Business Journal recalls a quote reiterated by former Kent County Commissioner Beth Bandstra that government provides services the private sector cannot or which offer no profit.

For more than a decade it has been apparent that the looming (and now real) metamorphosis from a manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy would be a most difficult road. So, too, will the difficulties of a shrinking labor force bring additional problems, particularly in a state unable to right itself in the wake of manufacturing losses. The members of a smaller work force have choices, and Michigan has not been the magnet for recruiters.

These are not surprises. The issues have been debated and discussed for more than a decade. Only in a manufacturing state like Michigan, where the gold-spoon labor unions ignored the truth, has it been a surprise. Only in a state like Michigan where Democratic leadership feigns ignorance can such a calamity be of such epic proportion.

It is well time to take off the virtual reality glasses and get real. The world changed and leaders of both parties are behaving in so cavalier a manner one has to wonder about the basic principles: Get government out of people’s lives and off the back of free enterprise.

Granholm has only one place to start: the business tax (and hiring) penalties.

The creation of new jobs and new industries belongs to the Private Sector, and we do mean that in capital letters. Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce President Jeanne Englehart and its chamber Public Policy and Governmental Affairs committee last week noted, “Michigan’s tax burden continues to be one of the highest in the country, making it difficult for businesses to compete on a national and global market, arguably causing growing companies to look elsewhere when deciding where to locate.”

Granholm last week chose to step out of state chambers and onto the pavement in Grand Rapids in the first of her forays around the state following her annual address. This business community, recognized nationally as the “hotbed” of the entrepreneurs she purports to seek, has willingly, and with continued perseverance, shown her the real world. She and the almost late, great Republicans must both listen.    

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