Michigan taxpayers will pay about $243 million over the next two years for home improvement projects for private citizens under the federal stimulus program.

The “weatherization” of tens of thousands of Michigan homes is estimated to cost about $6,500 per home and makes the units more energy efficient.

But the question looms: Why are taxpayers footing the bill for home improvements to private citizens, for which a family of four making up to $41,000 qualifies?

"Why isn't the homeowner doing weatherization on his own? Why does the government have to pay for it?" asked Andrew P. Morriss, a professor of law and business at the University of Illinois. "One response may be, 'People can't afford to pay the upfront cost.’ The easy solution to that: We can loan them the money and they can pay it back over time with the savings."

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Green jobs are a top priority of the federal stimulus, and weatherization qualifies.

For example, Oakland County will spend $11.5 million of federal stimulus money on weatherizing 1,681 homes. By comparison, the stimulus earmarked only $1.9 million for the public safety grants for 21 communities in the county.

President Barack Obama has started a campaign to defend the $787 billion spending bill. Members of the Obama administration are spreading out all over the country to talk about the bill.

The weatherization projects in Michigan were delayed so the state could meet the prevailing wage acts required under federal law for weatherization work. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Michigan had designated nearly $200 million as of Sept. 30, with the goal of weatherizing up to 33,000 homes by 2012.

Michael LaFaive, director of the Mackinac Center's Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, said weatherization was just another example of politicians’ fascination with “all things green.”

“Where will it stop?” LaFaive asked.

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Renting out the family summer cottage is a common practice in Michigan, and with today’s technologies, it’s easier than ever, empowered by services like AirBnB, HomeAway, VRBO and more. These short-term rentals mean vacationers can find a place much more easily and inexpensively, while owners can earn some extra money. It seems like a win-win. Not everyone agrees. Some in the accommodations and tourism industries aren’t happy with the increased competition and are advocating for limiting people’s rights to rent out their homes. Some homeowner associations are pushing back as well. And while cities like Detroit and Grand Rapids have mostly embraced home sharing, some local governments have restricted and even banned the practice.

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