Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Smaller Christmas Gathering

As the end of 2009 approaches on the eve of another Christmas holiday, we are faced once again with the grim reality of Michigan. For the first time in nearly a decade, Michigan's population has dipped below ten million people. Detroit, the flagship of our state, long ago fell well beneath the one million population mark and incidentally, its public school enrollment has plummeted to less than 100,000 students.

As the state's population continues to free fall, the nation's overall population continues to creep upwards, making the size of Michigan's US congressional districts one of the few things within the Great Lakes State that seems to be growing of late.

Of course population migration is nothing new to Michigan or this country for that matter--it is a legacy of this free people. For much of its history as a state, Michigan was largely frontier and sparsely populated. It wasn't until the manufacturing boom of the Detroit area that the state's population began to rocket. In 1900, just eight years before Henry Ford's first Model T rolled out of the factory, Michigan's population stood at a little under 2.25 million. By 1930 that population had doubled, and by 1960, an additional three million people could call themselves Michiganders.

These people didn't come to Michigan hoping for the jobs of tomorrow--they came chasing the jobs of their day.

They didn't flee the south and the east and the west because Michigan had wonderful schools, spectacular libraries and museums, beautiful waters and woods, smooth roads, or prisons that actually kept people behind bars. They didn't come because of the fire or police departments.

These people came to work in Michigan's factories, and for wages that were beyond what any had ever hoped to make before in their lives.

Many of them left family and friends behind. They left the homes of their childhood, and homesteads where the soils had been spent on cotton and tobacco. Michigan in those days promised the dream of a job, and it was worth sacrificing a life's worth of memories and sweat to realize.

These are truths too often overlooked by people charged with steering our state into the decades and centuries ahead. Businesses are the engine that drives the growth of a robust economy; they create jobs, and wealth, and make public services possible for everyone to enjoy. When those glistening automobiles first began rolling off the assembly line only two short generations ago, Michigan provided the rich industrial soil from which businesses could spring.

Alas, Michigan's industrial soil of today is not quite so fertile.

We are a heavily regulated state. We are a heavily taxed state. We are home to what is arguably the most adversarial workforce in the history of the human race. What is perhaps worst of all is that our elected officials have forgotten that people chase jobs, and jobs do not chase people. When it comes to building a sound economy, too many of our elected leaders have it exactly backwards.

Our elected officials are hurriedly erecting a crippling infrastructure of taxation and regulation and operating expense in which many formerly thriving businesses cannot continue to survive, and in which other businesses looking to expand here are rarely foolhardy enough to actually do so without bribes.

It was reported the other day on M-Live that Jennifer Granholm has but one year to shape her legacy. I'm don't believe this is true as her legacy seems quite well formed to me.

A case in point, this year there will be some 32,000 fewer people celebrating Christmas in Michigan than there was only one year ago. With any luck they will still visit.

2 comments:

Hershblogger said...

Merry Christmas!

I LOVE YOU said...
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