THE RICH LOWRY COLUMN By Rich Lowry Computer hackers managed to hijack a digital road sign in Austin, Texas, a few weeks ago and change its message to “Zombies Ahead.” It was a whimsical warning for that stretch of Texas road, but could have served as a deadly earnest statement about the U.S. economy. “Zombie banks” was the term for Japanese financial institutions propped up by government in the 1990s despite their basic insolvency after a real-estate bubble. These unprofitable banks, in a financial revenge of … [Read more...] about Caution: Zombie economy ahead
Michigan has to aggressively pursue creative, proven approaches to help expand and attract businesses. An example of that is a new state law that gives community colleges a fresh economic development tool that can serve as a jobs catalyst. The colleges can contract with companies to provide customized employee training designed for their specific needs — at no cost. That’s the kind of incentive that resonates with industries and makes Michigan more competitive in this economic downturn. Skills needed for jobs — at all … [Read more...] about Creative tools to rebuild economy
By RUSS HARDING Joe Maguire, president of Wolverine Development and a Mackinac Center board member, was dumbfounded when he received a letter last December from an environmental consulting firm requesting his consent for access to conduct an environmental assessment on property he owns in East Lansing. Maguire’s well-maintained property features a McDonald’s restaurant in the East Village area adjacent to the Michigan State University campus. Maguire was not aware of any environmental pollution on his property and … [Read more...] about Where is the brownfield?
Republicans fought an inspired battle against the stimulus bill, holding all but three of their 219 senators and congressmen. And they still lost. Some of the almost $500 billion in stimulus spending will enter the permanent “baseline” of the federal budget, the starting point for all future budgets that, in the immutable law of Washington, always grow and never shrink. From Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich, Republicans intent on limiting government during the past 25 years have succeeded in a limited way: From 1983 to … [Read more...] about Last gasp for limited government?
Give Gov. Jennifer Grannholm credit: Her budget outline for next year begins to give Michigan residents a leaner state government. Her 2010 budget would eliminate 1,500 positions, shrink state government spending by $300 million and cut subsidies to the arts and the horse-racing industry. These painful-yet-sensible cuts are necessary due to the national recession and Michigan’s own decade-long economic meltdown. The governor — traditionally, a fan of fiscal gimmicks — is almost out of budget-balancing tricks. It is time for … [Read more...] about Don’t tap stimulus to balance budget
Washington can’t decide whether to save or to smother the American auto industry. A few months ago, GM and Chrysler got a federal lifeline in the form of $17.4 billion in loans, on grounds that their health is essential to the economy. Now comes news that the Obama administration is acting quickly to approve a waiver for California to impose costly new restrictions on carbon-dioxide emissions from cars. In a move meant to combat global warming, California wants to mandate a 30 percent reduction in tailpipe emissions by … [Read more...] about The rise of self-defeating industrial policy
By JAMES M. HOMAN and MARK J. PERRY We hear discouraging and pessimistic comments about the economy every day, and many people are afraid of how long the current recession will last. Michigan just got more bad news as its economic forecasters predicted that the unemployment rate will average 11.3 percent in 2009 and the state’s budget will overspend revenues by $1.6 billion. But within the economic slowdown, there is actually plenty of good news if you take the time to look for it. First, there are areas of the country … [Read more...] about Good news about the bad economy
Michigan’s high excise tax on cigarettes causes a variety of criminal activity, including smuggling, violence and the funding of terrorist activity. The solution is to lower, not increase, cigarette taxes. By MICHAEL D. LaFAIVE On Nov. 13, 2008, more than 150 law enforcement officers were involved in a major bust of 18 people involved in trafficking contraband cigarettes in the Detroit area. According to the Detroit Free Press, the smuggling ring involved “104,300 cartons of illegal cigarettes worth more than $2 … [Read more...] about Cigarette smuggling rampant in Michigan
There is no shortage of issues facing Michigan’s roadways. Falling gas tax revenues have crippled maintenance budgets. A highest-in-the-country vehicle weight limit pulverizes main arteries. And the annual pavement-eating slurry of snow and salt, followed by a hyperactive freeze-thaw cycle, combine to make for a never-ending game of maintenance catch-up. So as governments struggle to figure out how best to bandage the bullet wounds that are our roads, the last thing needed is a shoddy job once those scarce funds … [Read more...] about Shoddy road work should not be brushed aside easily
THE RICH LOWRY COLUMN By Rich Lowry The trillion dollar standard At least the word trillion still has cachet as denoting a lot of money. Billion has been surpassed during the past few months, and million has long been positively quaint. The Obama team wants to keep its two-year stimulus plan (just) beneath a trillion dollars, sensing that 13 figures is the price point when the public might balk at the fiscal bacchanal. (The entire Pentagon budget is $500 billion.) That Congress will take more time, … [Read more...] about The trillion dollar standard