Economic dumbdown 

News Hits took note of a recent report that indicates Michigan’s economic problems have little to do with high taxes. In a study conducted for the respected W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, researches found that our state’s quite competitive tax-wise. Which makes the Republican-led Legislature’s decision earlier this month to eliminate the state’s Single Business Tax — without coming up with replacement revenue — seem all the more moronic.

“Michigan’s recent slow growth is largely due to our overdependence on the fortunes of the auto industry, not to excessive Michigan business taxes,” concludes the report. “In the short term, it is difficult for any Michigan policy to fully offset the large negative effects of the competitive challenge facing the Big Three auto companies.”

What’s needed to succeed in the long run are “educational policies that increase the percentage of more skilled workers” and raise educational attainment of Michigan’s students in general.

Bleeding the state’s coffers at a time when the cost of a college education is soaring beyond the reach of the working class is a headlong rush in the wrong direction.

And as far as helping the ailing auto industry goes, it doesn’t look like the Bush administration is making that issue a priority. We pass along this message sent out by Democratic Congressman Jonh Dingell:

“The Canadians can make cars much cheaper than we can, because their government covers health care costs for all. Whenever the heads of the Big 3 have tried to talk with President Bush about this problem, they get turned away. The automakers have not asked the President for a bailout, but they do want fairness and justice. There are legislative initiatives that could make a more level playing field for U.S. automakers, who have taken on massive burdens that their international counterparts don’t have to worry about. But the president is too busy to sit down with three of America’s largest employers. It’s a slap in the face to the industry, the people of Michigan and to all communities with auto industry employees. It’s hard to imagine what he is doing that would keep him from such a meeting.”

Dingell then went on to say exactly who has been getting the prez’s attention, saying that since he first snubbed auto executives back in May, the Bushman has found the time to meet with the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers and Sam Hornish Jr., the winner of the Indy 500. There was that little jaunt to Graceland to watch Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi perform an incredibly pitiful Elvis impersonation. And then it was back to the White House to meet with the Top 10 finalists from American Idol.

All of which reminds News Hits of some graffiti we saw scrawled on a restroom wall many moons ago: Reality is for people who can’t handle drugs.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or

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