So you want to move to Michigan? Here’s the reality

$20M marketing blitz won’t mask Michigan’s problems, but an engaged public can help

The state of Michigan is spending $20 million on a multiyear campaign, called “You Can in Michigan.” Between the new campaign and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Make It In Michigan” effort, the state is spending about $60 million to tell Michigan’s story beyond its boundaries.

The sales pitch is simple: “Career opportunity, quality of life and affordability.”

It’s a nice thought, but it solves the wrong problem. The reason people leave Michigan, or do not move here, does not owe to bad marketing or to a lack of marketing. It owes to reality.

Between the roads, the electrical grid, and the schools — all poor — quality of life is a struggle in Michigan, not a reason to move here. Yes, it’s pretty. But what else?

Michigan is run as a 150-person club out of Lansing, not as a state of 10 million people. Lawmakers spend $82 billion of the public’s money. A billion of that is on earmarks, pure pork, with only vague details about where the money is going, and at whose behest. Lawmakers frequently don’t have access to current information on bills, and the information available to the public is often months old.

If you want to move to Michigan and be an involved citizen, transparency is a battle you will fight, from local governments to the state government in Lansing.

We have a state government whose tentacles extend into every aspect of your life, either overriding local decision-makers or removing them from the process. Should your private school administer medical marijuana? Should a farmer be able to put wind turbines and solar panels on their property? Under current leadership, the belief is that those decisions should be made in Lansing, not locally.

We have leaders for whom the saying “character is destiny” augurs poorly.

We have government officials who go to great lengths to cancel income tax cuts for the public. They then turn around to offer billions in corporate welfare to Michigan’s biggest companies. Our leaders believe the answer to every problem, even a state-created problem, is more bureaucracy.

We have a governor and attorney general who used the power of the administrative state to crush — or attempt to crush — barbers or restaurant owners who dared to earn a living during a pandemic. Not every business owner made it. Some people lost everything.

Come to Michigan, if Tim Allen’s voice urges you. And you will find a state that needs help.

You will find children left behind by Zoom schooling. You will find workers left behind by the government-driven transition to electric vehicles. You will find good people stunned by the difference between the Michigan they grew up in and the Michigan they now occupy.

They’ll never leave, and they’ll always believe. They’re just not sure what to do next.

Come to Michigan. You can call it the Fresh Coast, even.

But when you do come, ask not what Michigan can do for you. Ask for a bucket, and start bailing water.

James David Dickson is managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential. Email him at

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.