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Carl Langley:
Michigan legislators fleeing from reality

web posted April 16, 2007

GUEST COLUMN – The Detroit News is speaking out against what it calls an “excess of idiocy,” and if ever a newspaper had it right this one does.

The paper’s editorial staff is upset with some of the Democrats serving on the Michigan legislature, which is trying to figure out ways to tackle a state budget that is $1 billion in the red.

The Democrats in the legislature, it appears, have resorted to a proven tactic they gutless politicians have used in the past: they plan to plunder the pockets of taxpayers.

But this time it’s different: the Democrats are proving, once again, they are totally mindless about economic realities.

While wrestling with a budget plan that not only ignores cutting what the News said is obvious fat in spending, the Democrats appear to have lost their minds.

There is a budget proposal to mandate the taxpayers paying for a new MP3 player or iPod for every child enrolled in the state school system. And to top this, the Democrats want to budget $100 million to give face lifts to cities nearly destroyed by years of neglect and crime.

I had to ask someone what an MP3 player or an iPOD is, or why every school child should have one or the other, or perhaps even both. I was told (by a teen-ager) the two devices record and play music. This means children can listen to rock and rap instead of being burdened with book learning.

A man once told me that America was lurching into a shallow, artificial entertainment world that will doom the planet. I now agree. We live in a world where entertainment, no matter how bizarre or bad, sits atop a moldering heap of societal decay.

The story of the MP3 and iPOD players reflects the burden politicians without an ounce of brains want to impose on Michigan taxpayers.

Thankfully, the Detroit News has gone on the attack but its criticisms may be ignored. Politicians hell bent on spending money for anything don’t pay attention to budget hawks.

I believe the News and other Michigan papers and broadcast entities upset over the budget proposals are a little bit late to the attack, and the game may be over.

In calling the spending proposals an “excess of idiocy,” the News observed that the Democrats supporting the proposal are “entirely indifferent to the idea that extreme hard times demand extreme belt tightening, or they are bone stupid. We lean toward the latter.”

Meanwhile, the Democrats believe purchasing the musical devices can be paid for with a hike in the state income tax, the levy of a six percent tax on service industry billings and taxing junk food and soda pop.

It is rather ironic that the same legislators talking about increasing junk food taxes want to raise more money to pay for junk music. Junk food is accused of harming the body, so allow me to accuse MP3 players and iPODS with damaging brain cells. However, I always have maintained that people who walk around holding musical devices against their heads don’t have any brain cells to harm.

While the entertainment advocates get most of the attention of the Detroit newspaper, the legislators who want to spend $100 million for “better downtowns“ should appeal to the urban dwellers to clean up the messes they created.

While everyone appreciates better downtowns, this is a misguided effort to have taxpayers in every little Michigan hamlet pay for tidying up places like Detroit, where citizens with the inclination and the money to move are leaving town faster than they can be replaced. In some sections Detroit looks like a bombed out war zone..

The once bustling automotive capital of the world has been dragged down by a succession of mayors and council members who couldn’t line up a two-car funeral. The city treasury has been pilfered to the extent it looks like a sieve.

I predict it would take a half-billion dollars to fund enough police, courts and jails to make Detroit safe. I base this on hearing talk from a former Detroit resident, who told me that things had gotten so bad even the local Mafia pulled out. I guess the mob couldn’t even take the violence.

Detroit is the only city in America where residents celebrate July 4, Halloween and New Year’s nights by shooting real guns, not fireworks, as a rite of celebration. A few of the residents take their guns downtown and use them to carjack fellow citizens, hold up convenience stores or shoot their drug trade competitors.

In its editorial, the Detroit paper cited an example of the bizarre thinking by one of the state’s clueless legislators. House speaker Andy Dillon, the man with the civic improvement budget plan, was quoted as saying the state could come up with a big chunk of money by taxing businesses that operate in the state but have their headquarters and manufacturing facilities elsewhere.

“The certain outcome of that plan is to drive more business out of Michigan,” the News noted. The paper’s editorial said a better course of action would be to cut the cost of government and develop a tax structure that would make the state more attractive to new business, especially the technology companies that are enriching other states.

I agree with the News position because it makes sense, but I see little hope of anything being done. The state is held hostage by unions in every segment of the economy and by welfare parasites whose sole contribution to civic betterment is cashing government checks. The only thing left is prayer.

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