Will Our Fearless Leader Ever Learn?
By Jay R. Taylor
What an honor it must have been.
Invited to Davos to enlighten the elite at the World Economic Forum (WEF), Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer led a 45-minute panel discussion in Switzerland in mid-January on the “new era of manufacturing” in her home state. Who wouldn’t want to hear about that?
I live in Michigan but perhaps missed the manufacturing resurgence somehow. But I think not.
What I’d like to know is whether the WEF saw our governor’s track record on manufacturing but decided to invite her anyway. After all, they must get news stories there in the Alps. Probably just trying to be nice or something.
It could be that the WEF just needed a little nudge or incentive of some kind to engage with Michigan.
I’m sure having open arms had nothing to do with being awarded $6 million last August. Talk about a wonderful use of state economic development and county taxpayer money. Who wouldn’t want to partner with our esteemed Governor and her mentee Oakland County Board Chairman David T. Woodward, after that?
Or maybe Michigan’s future global partners heard the rumors about the Gov wanting to move our primary election date earlier to test the waters for a particular national role in 2024. After all, the WEF prides itself in having placed half of the cabinet members in the current Canadian Parliament. Perhaps they can do it here, too.
Personally, I find it spooky that this state leader would accept the invitation of a man, Klaus Schwab, whose father received commendations and praise from none other than Adolph Hitler for running a model company, Escher-Wyss. Also a bit concerning is a recent report in the Swiss German-language newspaper Blick informing us that the Swiss Defense Department deployed up to 5,000 soldiers at Davos to protect WEF participants. Protect them from what, exactly?
But that’s just politics, right? We can’t throw stones because of things that happened 80 years ago. Progressives only move forward.
Where’s the Beef?
In the last few weeks, I’ve been looking for a copy of the Governor’s Davos speech. I was too busy and mostly too poor to attend and wondered what exactly was discussed. I’ve been scouring the web but cannot find a full text printed anywhere, so I’ll have to guess.
While I don’t know what was in her speech, I have a sixth sense of what was avoided.
I’ll bet no one on the esteemed panel mentioned the news reports last summer here in Michigan. According to the papers, a certain governor was caught before the election lying about creating jobs. To make matters worse, a follow up article in Bridge quantified the size of the loss -- 81,000 fewer jobs during her tenure.
She’s a smart lady, so I’m thinking she’s probably learned from that. Since she couldn’t speak in Davos about past success, I’m guessing she focused everyone on the future of her “Michigan Manufacturing Model.”
One example she could have used was her recent announcement of direct payments totaling $426.6 million to Magna company to add 920 jobs. Wow. Who wouldn’t want greater employment?
Oh, wait. If you do the math, it shows she spent $463,000 per job created. And studies show these companies never reach the number of jobs promised. So that is a broken model. Can you imagine how many lower-skilled workers could have been re-trained to fill advanced manufacturing or other roles with those funds? About 46,000 Michigan residents, per my calculations.
Another example of her economic acumen is that, just after returning from Davos, the Governor announced she wants to invest $100 million to preserve or grow U.S. Air Force activity in Michigan. Wouldn’t all these military jobs be great?
Oops. That’s not for manufacturing, but it does help government employ people, which is good, right?
She plans to keep 5,000 jobs at Selfridge Air Base at the cost to Michigan taxpayers of $50,000 per job. Since the money has not yet been spent, what could she do instead with that $100 Million? If we estimate the retraining can be done for $10,000 per person, she can help up to five times the number or 25,000 people who today are in need of new skills.
Governor, I have news for you. The U.S. military, with an annual budget of $817 Billion (excluding the “black budget”), does not need Michigan’s $100 Million. The military will either continue to keep their Air Force jets here for economic and political reasons, or it won’t.
Besides, the economy doesn’t grow by creating more government jobs. The strength of a nation is not measured by how many dollars are printed at the Federal Reserve or how many bombs are dropped in Ukraine. Its strength is measured by its productive capacity and the useful engagement of its workforce.
You talk about training people to lead the world with advanced manufacturing but then you waste money on things that create little or nothing for our economy. All jobs are not created equal.
The Real Way to Growth
Our Michigan budget surplus is currently expected to be $9 Billion. You have an opportunity if you are up for it. There are many things you can do to attract business to Michigan and help workers. Here are just a few that can be done immediately:
- Instead of just improving the bottom line of company stockholders, redirect these seemingly unlimited millions of dollars toward workers. Not everyone needs a college degree; there are thousands of good jobs waiting for people with the right skills. You can ensure that they get the retraining they need.
- Stop the misguided efforts to reverse our Right to Work in Michigan. For over ten years, working men and women have enjoyed the right to decide whether to join a labor union or to pay union dues. Protecting this right will keep money in the pockets of workers and help employers.
- Cancel your irresponsible plan to close Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline. Doing so will continue the vital flow of energy and keep costs for both working families and manufacturers lower. Continuing to encourage the Attorney General’s threats to close the pipeline do nothing but cause uncertainty.
- Do not separate people by treating them differently within our tax laws. It is unfair to fully exempt government worker pension income from taxes but provide only one-quarter of that relief to other seniors. Be fair or beware at the polls.
- Finally, do a better job spreading the strategic economic development funds. Helping 70 businesses with $6 Million each will grow more jobs than giving all $426 Million to one favored employer.
It’s no wonder Michigan continues to shed people while other states are growing. We haven’t placed the focus where it needs to be. Many positive ideas that would improve the economic climate are not being discussed by the Democrat-led legislature, possibly for political reasons.
We give away money to foreign groups and massive companies. Let’s instead do the things that encourage real business growth. With the pandemic behind us, it is time to get serious. Let’s work to grow good-paying jobs and stop the nonsense with elitist organizations who think they know what is best for us.