I had a radio interview today with a local station to talk about the budget situation. During the discussion, I mentioned that most of my colleagues are on Mackinac Island hanging out with all the lobbyists. It gave me a thought for a new blog entry. But when I got home, I found an e-mail from my former colleague, Leon Drolet. He said in his hard-hitting way what was on my mind. So, without his permission, here is an edited version of his "blog"...he is rather blunt but he gets his point across.
"The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Policy Conference on Mackinac Island wraps up today. Each year prominent politicians of both parties mingle with Michigan’s business leaders to build consensus on improving our state. Last year, I attended and found the Conference more like a junket to the Land of Oz.
The atmosphere on this beautiful island is very genteel. The food is magnificent, and the wine flows freely. Elegantly dressed government elites mingle with leaders of the automotive industry and, surprisingly, lobbyists for tax-spending organizations like public universities, associations representing Medicaid beneficiaries, public schools, and non-profit entities that depend on government grants. Most of the attendees represent public sector organizations.
Of course, its all FREE for most legislators and its well worth the conference fee to be part of the ‘in’ crowd making decisions about how much money will be taken from citizens and who it will it be redistributed to.
Guess who’s NOT on the Island? You, if you are an everyday taxpayer or a small business owner. The Island may actually exceed Lansing itself in disproportionate representation of tax-spenders and tax-eaters compared to taxpayers. Is it any surprise that the policy agreements that come out of the conference are big-spending, centrally planned, government boondoggles?
This year, the big agreement on the Island is that the state’s dreaded Single Business Tax will be replaced by a new tax - dollar for dollar. Ah, you citizen taxpayers. Don’t you understand the need for everyone on the Island to find consensus, to get along?
The media will gush about the bipartisanship! There will be peace on the porch of the Grand Hotel tonight as the sun sets on Lake Michigan. New friends will enjoy fine cigars and glasses of pinot noir.
But for the rest of Michigan, the sun is setting on our economic future."