Jingle bells, economy smells, Lansing laid an egg

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

Morning.  Are you awake?  Are you sitting down?  Are you ready to have an icy cold glass of water splashed in your face?  Ah, well, yes or no, here it comes…

Remember a few years back when there was this really successful business guy running for governor here in the state of Michigan on a platform of job creation and dramatic reforms in the way they do things in Lansing… and how the people of Michigan, in our infinite wisdom, decided Jennifer Granholm and John Cherry were handling the economy juuuust fine?  So much for that.

Michigan’s economy, ranked 49th or 50th in the United States, depending on the month, has been hemorrhaging jobs for the last six years but there’s nothing like a pink slip in your stocking at the holidays.  And we’re not just talking the auto industry here (although they’re back in the news AGAIN today with the third round of fresh job cuts in the last three days… we’ll get there…).

The Grand Rapids Press reports this morning that nearly 1,000 moms and dads in west Michigan are getting some awfully bad news this week.

Zeeland-based Herman Miller on Tuesday said it will cut 400 to 650 jobs through job cuts, layoffs and buyouts — mainly in West Michigan — through January.

Between 200 and 400 hourly workers could be laid off and about 250 white-collar jobs are to be eliminated. Herman Miller has about 4,500 employees in West Michigan.

Grand Rapids-based Steelcase, which employs about 4,700 workers in the area, was to send out announcements today to 300 hourly employees about possible layoffs within 60 days.

I can see the “holiday” card now.

Dear single mom of four,

We’re really sorry about that whole layoff thing during the holidays but you’ve got to understand, it’s hard work keeping Lansing’s budget this big and Big Labor happy.  

Look on the bright side.  Now you can spend more time with your kids during this magical season, and when those bigger utility bills come your way (you’re welcome, coincidentally) you now qualify for their financial assistance programs!

Don’t bother to thank us.  I’m on my way to DC to help the President-elect spread this sort of joy to the rest of the nation and when John Cherry runs for Governor next year he’ll insist he had nothing to do with this at all.

Tootles and Merry Christmas.

Your BFF,

Governor Granholm

Read on…

They wouldn’t be able to print those fast enough.  They’d need 900 for the Grand Rapids area this week alone and that’d qualify as their light work.  Over on the east side of the state we have, for the third consecutive day, news of another sweeping round of jobs cuts.  The Ivory Tower reports:

General Motors Corp. plans to cut at least 3,500 more salaried jobs in the next few months and could be forced to cut even more as it struggles to survive, a leading labor economist said Tuesday….

“It’s going to be a cold holiday season,” said Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

But again, in the spirit of optimism and that classic Granholm rah-rah-can-do attitude there’s a flip side to that coin.  With fewer cars being produced there will be fewer cars on the street.  With fewer jobs in the state there will be fewer moms and dads leaving the house in the morning to go to work and driving home after the five o’clock whistle.  Less traffic, less congestion, and if the Michigan Department of Transportation’s latest edict is as bone-headed a move as anyone with two brain-cells thinks it is, at least there’ll be fewer folks risking life and limb on icy, neglected roads.

According to the Detroit News, there are some dramatic cost cutting moves taking place this snowy season.  Might be time to break out the old snow tires, studs and chains.

Under the (MDOT) directive, road commissions would give high priority to freeways, but would limit less traveled secondary roads to a single plowing and salting.

“Basically, it’s an effort to reduce overtime,” said Bill Shreck, MDOT director of communications. “Once we get the roads passable, we don’t want to be paying overtime on roads that aren’t that heavily used, especially considering the rising cost of salt and fuel. We will keep working on freeways until we’re down to bare pavement.”

Oh, well, at least they’ll work on the freeways.  

Just remember, this winter when you ditch your car on a Michigan road that hasn’t been plowed or salted in days you can stay warm until help arrives, daydreaming about Dan Mulhern and his fulltime multi-person staff at the Office of the First Gentleman… or about the fancy new Michigan State Police Headquarters that the Michigan State Police said they didn’t want… or about the bailout your tax dollars provided to an industry that pays its employees, on average, over $40 an hour more than the average Michigan worker overall.  

See?  You even feel warm thinking about it right now.  Warm or hot under the collar… either way.