Treating a bazooka wound with extra-strength tylenol in Michigan

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

Did you see the latest bit of Granholm showmanship yesterday?  The woman took the podium alongside a bunch of pretty awesome businessmen to announce something that businessmen like to hear announced.  The State is creating a new $300 million investment fund to help take local companies to that “next level.” People like Roger Penske (of NASCAR fame) and Meijer frontman Mark Murray are a part of the team overseeing the distribution of the cash.  

Those are respectable guys.  Good men.  So are the rest of the big shots that were standing around the lectern Thursday.  Heck, I’ve had the chance to meet most of the folks attending that presser and I have nothing but high praise for almost all of them.  It’s tough to argue with the idea of sending hundreds of millions of dollars into the private sector.

Read on…

But again, it’s an interesting admission on the part of the tax hiking Governor.  If business grow and add jobs when they have MORE money, as she clearly asserts by developing fancy programs like this one, then why again did you swipe $1.5 BILLION out of the local economy eleven months ago?  If $300 million will help and is worthy of pomp, circumstance and many of the big guns in Michigan’s non-auto business field then imagine how much further along we might be had you not stolen FIVE TIMES that amount from job makers and moms and dads.

The answer is, of course, offered every time we see new unemployment numbers ranking Michigan as an economic power on par with struggling former Soviet Block nations in Eastern Europe.  Germany’s chronic 8% unemployment rate looks rosey by comparison.  

Daniel Howes reacts to the Guv’s sweet little presser in this morning’s Detroit News and as appreciative as he is of any business investment he too can’t shake the feeling that this is little more than a “drop in the bucket.”

…How many of those CEOs, or the head of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., or the head of Charter One’s Michigan operations, or even the token University of Michigan business professor, truly believe government-sponsored investment programs financed with the retirement dollars of state employees can move the turnaround of a moribund state economy?

I ask because Michigan is officially midway through Year Five of its one-state recession, a fact quietly marked by Comerica Inc.’s chief economist, Dana Johnson, in a two-page “Michigan Brief” headlined “The Truth Hurts.” Oh, does it ever, especially when so much government policy over that same period reads like a caricature of central planning meets Herbert Hoover.

…Granholm has a point when she says that Michigan needs more next-generation employers to attract the kind of next-generation employees who buy homes, start families and bolster communities. But fixing the fundamentals of taxes, business costs and tending to existing businesses is equally important, if not more so.

None of that is happening as much as it should, as the business leaders on the guv’s newest council could undoubtedly attest. They won’t — at least not publicly.

Still, we shouldn’t act ungrateful.  The Granholm / Cherry machine might cut off the spicket completely and without these bi-monthly press conferences announcing “targeted” tax cuts and “investments” things will get even worse.  

Oh, wait, we’re there anyways.  This morning’s Ivory Tower:

Brace yourself, Detroit, for a new batch of hideous auto industry news today, as General Motors Corp. posts its second-quarter financial results and all major automakers report another month of sickly sales figures.

These follow a string of other grim tidings: Ford Motor Co.’s second-quarter loss of $8.7 billion last week; Chrysler LLC’s decision a day later to stop leasing cars and trucks, and GMAC’s $2.5-billion second-quarter loss. Standard & Poor’s cut its ratings Thursday for all three Detroit automakers another notch deeper into junk status, saying it expects U.S. truck and SUV sales to continue falling this year and next.

For those of you keeping up on the calculations, the big announcement yesterday is going to “invest,” in total, statewide, less than 1/8th the amount of cash ONE part of ONE company just lost in three months.

At some point someone in Lansing is going to have to wake up and figure out that we need a complete and total overhaul of the regulatory and taxing environment in Michigan, or else we’ll continue to hemorrhage jobs and families.  Unfortunately, I get the vibe the alarm clock isn’t going to go off until January, 2011.