Sunday Morning Musings

Opening the Sunday morning AnnArbor.com newspaper, there is Governor Snyder's 2011 Spring commencement speech at the University of Michigan. Right underneath, there a 5th grader protesting against his budget policy for its cuts in education funding. A reflection of our time.

I am against the governor's cuts on top of cuts already made to the K-12 education system. Maybe I am biased because my kids are in the system. However, that is not the main reason I am against his cuts. There was a story in the front page of last Thursday's story, in which a little girl whispered in the governor's ears, "Stop taking money from my school" -- according to the girl's father. That may not be entirely correct. The governor's proponents would say that he is not taking money from the school, he just doesn't have enough money to give the schools, although the governor probably has proven his proponents wrong in that regard: He is also taking the the K-12 school funds and shifting them to fund community colleges.

I agree with the guest opinion by Donald Salberg on page A6 that lowering business taxes will not create more jobs. But he may have missed a point: The business tax cutters may not be aiming to create new jobs, they may pin their hope on attracting businesses elsewhere that may be considering expansion to expand here in Michigan. I do suspect that business tax cuts would fail at that, too. The tax cutters seem to be competing against some imaginary other places as if those other places exist in an imaginary bubble. If tax cuts work magic on businesses, would those other places not be smart enough to follow suite? That seems to be a perfect scenario of race to the bottom -- where big business owners can profit comfortably on the backs of others.

According to one of the business school legends: Henry Ford gave his factory workers the highest wages in the industry, which created a demand on his cars, which in turn partly fueled his success. I don't know what today's Republicans would say to that. Call Henry Ford a fool, perhaps? Who could guarantee that those workers would necessarily buy Ford's products? Maybe they should do some research on the business taxes back then to prove that it was Michigan's low tax rate that put Henry Ford in Detroit, rather than Windsor across the Detroit river, or across the lake somewhere in Ohio.

The lessons of Silicon Valley on the Business Review page seems to provide some interesting ideas what a government could do: intentional innovation, economic gardening. Hope the whole Ann Arbor area grows into a better entrepreneurial garden. But I believe education, including K-12, has to be part of that garden.

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