Friday, October 05, 2007

Saving Michigan

As most of my readers know, Michigan's economy is in the dumps. This week's Detroit papers have been full of articles on the new budget just passed by the state legislature last weekend. As I look at the Detroit News of Tuesday Oct 2nd. I have to laugh at some things and shake my head at others.

First, objectivists understand that altruism is a morality of intentions over results and insists that one's actions should not be condemned or attacked if one's intentions are held to be noble and virtuous.

Well, in a special section called Michigan's Budget Solution, Governor Jennifer Granholm is quoted as saying "I'm very angry at those on the fringe who would attack legislators who voted their conscience." In other words, if you vote to do what you think is right, you should be exempt from criticism, regardless of the possibility those actions might do more harm than good by violating the rights of citizens.

Also implied in that statement is the notion that anyone who criticizes those "who voted their conscience" should not be taken seriously because they are on the "fringe" which means don't bother to examine their arguments, just dismiss them out of hand.

Lastly, the entire premise of the statement, "voted their conscience" is extremely, to the nth power, laughable. Why? In a News editorial it is pointed out that:
The size of the bureaucracy is not measurably shrinking, privatization of services is not significantly expanding, and the incentive for ongoing reforms is evaporating.

This budget promises to give state government a generous windfall. More than half of the $1.4 billion tax increase will go to cover the budget deficit pushed forward last year.

Once that bill is paid, nearly $800 million will be available in coming years to spend on new programs.

The expansion of the sales tax to certain services also gives lawmakers a convenient vehicle for raising future taxes. Expect the number of services covered to grow whenever the government needs more money.
Voted their conscience eh?

But what are those 'services' destined for tax increases?
Besides targeting mainstream industries such as consulting and financial planning, the sales tax changes strike the less familiar and the offbeat: Astrologers, psychics, phrenologists and numerologists would have to begin charging their clients an extra 6 percent.

"None of them contacted us," [State Rep. Steve] Bieda joked. "They must not have seen it coming."
For a complete list of targeted services go here and scroll down to "Taxed Services."

The very beginning of this article is also revealing.
Dating services are covered, but a round of golf is not.

Going skiing will be subject to the state's 6 percent sales tax but not going to see the Detroit Lions.

Consultants' services will be taxed, lawyers' won't be.
Yep, since many of our legislators are lawyers who like to golf, this is what "voted their conscience" looks like.

While there are many other absurdities and inanities in the articles in that edition, I will close with the above linked article's closing paragraphs:
While it's hard to determine how much those "industries" [seers] generate a year, psychic Nina Toro of Dearborn Heights said it's not much. "There is no profit in psychic reading," she said. "If business picked up I'd be more than willing to pay the 6 percent."

Layoffs and foreclosures have hurt her business as well. She typically charges $25 a session, but will drop her price to $10 for the unemployed.

As for the state's future: "I don't see any good."
Neither do I.
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