Dear Michigan Capitol Confidential - click to enlarge

I have just finished my first issue of Michigan Capitol Confidential [July/August 2009] and found it worthwhile even though I didn't find anything in it particularly startling. But I do have objections to two of the articles.

I disagree with the article "Left Behind." It is true that government job training programs are generally ineffective, not only because they are poorly run, but because it is extremely difficult, as the article pointed out, to forecast what kind of jobs are going to be in demand. And it is absolutely true, as the article points out, that low taxes and a light, intelligent regulatory burden are the best route to prosperity. But are our taxes particularly high? Not from the reading I have done. They seem to be pretty close to average. And our state revenue, as a percentage of personal income has fallen over the last eight years. That is the same period of time we have lost 300,000 jobs.

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"Job training is also ineffective without job creation," is not precisely correct. This is, to a large degree, a chicken and egg problem. A state with a skilled, educated workforce will find that job creation is much easier than otherwise. The days of plentiful unskilled, good paying jobs are over. Surely, you would not advise an individual against going to a community college or vocational school and acquiring a marketable skill? Of course not, even though he might not find employment in his field right away. Similarly, the NWLB [No Worker Left Behind] program is going to have failures. That does not mean we shouldn't be concerned, as liberals are not, with the relationship between inputs and outputs.

I also disagree with your opposition to imposing a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. Mr. Nunez, in his contest winning letter, said, "Anytime we infringe on legal businesses to choose their customers, we are practicing 'big brother' tactics." But we infringe on legal businesses every day. We prevent businesses from polluting the air and water and we prevent them from maintaining unsafe working conditions for their employees. In each case, we are preventing them from externalizing their costs, or preventing their customers from externalizing theirs. Doing so is one of the fundamental reasons we have government.

On the other hand, I wholeheartedly endorse your opposition to efforts to maintain the cap on the number of charter schools in Detroit. I was really upset by Detroit's rejection of Mr. Thomson's generous offer. I sent an E-mail to Representative Dian Slavens and Senator Bruce Patterson opposing the legislation retaining the cap on charter schools.

Sincerely yours,

Charles Richards, Canton, MI


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Jim Riley got his own fiscal house in order so he could retire. Now he wonders why his city government can’t do the same for their employees, and taxpayers who could end with huge bills from the unfunded retirement liabilities.

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