What's the typical unemployed Michigander to do? Gamble away the grocery money!

Cross-posted on Right Michigan at www.RightMichigan.com.

Just goes to show you, even on the darkest of days there’s usually a silver lining on at least one of the clouds.  Sure, GM is expected to shave 20% of their payroll costs, a move that could result in anywhere from 3,000 to 30,000+ job losses, depending on your source.  That stinks.  Sure, the new unemployment numbers are out and Michigan remains entrenched at the bottom of the barrel at 8.5% despite the return of 15,000 auto-workers from the picket lines.  Meaning there were losses elsewhere to make up for that 15K worker spike… That really stinks.  And yeah, when you find out that somewhere around that many people may have left the state last month alone, well, it’s enough to depress even the most eternal pro-Granholm optimist.

But don’t worry, I mentioned a silver lining!  Word started to break out of the Muskegon area last night that the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians just purchased a big tract of land out near the lakeshore and they’re expected to get the go-ahead to build a giant new casino here in west Michigan.  So now, instead of Lansing destroying lives through an oversized government and a job killing tax and regulatory policy we can watch local moms and dads head to the casino, lose the shirts off their backs AND junior’s college fund!  

An expected million dollar investment from the tribe will wind up netting them tens of millions of dollars annually.  See, the casino industry has a pretty good cost / benefit ratio going.  They hire a thousand people to stand behind big gaudy tables and desperate men and women at the lowest point of their lives walk up to them and literally hand them all of their money, turning in their dignity, a peaceful home life, financial security, their ability to pay their mortgage and their families future along with the cash.  But that’s the GOOD news!  Custom dictates we get the bad news out of the way first…

The Detroit News recaps the latest jobless numbers here in Michigan and across the nation.  Neither rate budged but the internal numbers here in-state did a little moving.  Big Labor finally ended a protracted strike adding a few thousand “new” jobs to the tally but at the same time folks were running for the Indiana border in giant numbers.

“Five straight months of losing jobs is more depressing news for a state that’s really been hit hard,” said Patrick Anderson, an East Lansing-based economist.

Anderson said a troubling trend is the disappearance of 15,000 people from the state labor force between May and June. The labor force, which counts both the number of people employed and those looking for work, has dropped by 32,000 since June 2007, state data shows.

“That is confirming some of my fears that talented workers are leaving the state,” he said.

Not every one of those fifteen-thousand necessarily left the state.  Some of them could have just left the labor force, giving up hope completely without having the means to get out of dodge.  Obviously John Engler’s fault.  So was the big General Motors layoff announcement.  The Ivory Tower has forecasters who believe two of the state’s hardest hit urban areas will feel the brunt of this round of bad news.

Global Insight automotive forecaster Rebecca Lindland says she believes GM will close Pontiac Truck, cut truck production in Flint from two shifts to one, and increase production at the car-assembly plant in Orion Township.

The Pontiac and the Flint parts, those are Engler’s fault.  The Orion Township part, that was all Jennifer Granholm.  So, apparently, is the new casino operation over here on the lakeshore.  The Muskegon Chronicle reported last night:

“We are pleased to be able to make this investment in Western Michigan’s economy as it will help bring jobs, businesses and tourism to the area,” said Larry Romanelli, the tribal chief. “This move is being made by the tribe as a commitment to serve a region that is part of our historic nine-county service area (in which members of the tribe live).”

Romanelli said this investment of tribal funds is in keeping with Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s announced goals for rejuvenation of the state…

And all it costs us is our soul.  

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m as big a libertarian as the next guy (unless that guy’s name is John Galt).  Do people have the basic human right to ruin their own lives?  Sure.  You want to give someone all of your money, destroy your relationship with your spouse, lose your home, get your car repossessed and leave nothing behind for your kids that is entirely your business.  But that doesn’t mean I have to put on a party hat or break out the noisemakers.  

Are we so desperate for jobs that we’ll take one-thousand of them in the short term if it sucks twenty, thirty-million dollars out of the local economy without producing any tangible product or benefit outside of emotional and familial devastation?  What am I saying?  Of course we are.

There are a few folks who can handle casinos and gaming.  One of my absolute best friends is a big fan of the Vegas.  She’s got the neon disease and her parents had it before her… and still do.  They aren’t on the street yet.  But if you’re a part of a church, a community group, a neighborhood association… if you ever spend time with diverse groups of your fellow man you know folks who can’t handle it and haven’t handled it.  Folks who’ve faced times in their lives when they were so desperate for a solution that they literally gambled something away they couldn’t win back.  

That’s Jennifer Granholm’s idea of statewide rejuvenation as told by Chief Larry.  Michigan as a giant money-sucking familial death trap.  Something we can all be proud of. Pass the kazoo.