We have seen the future, and it is grim. Unless, of course, you are a billionaire. In that case the coming year is going to be particularly peachy.
We can say this with a high degree of certainty because the ersatz soothsayers here at News Hits have just emerged from a weeklong coma-like trance induced by a hallucinogenic substance extracted from the skin of a rare South American tree frog. We hopped aboard the astral plane in order to get an advance peek at what 2011 will bring to Michigan now that state government is firmly in the grip of conservatives.
Sure it was risky, but we had the well-known shaman John Sinclair there to serve as our guide. Besides, when it comes to serving the interests of our loyal readers no endeavor is too hazardous, especially if it means we can better help you prepare for what's going to be a particularly tumultuous year.
It turned out to be a hell of a trip.
But you'll be seeing it all for yourselves soon enough. Here' s just some of what is in store:
Shortly after being sworn in as governor, former venture capitalist Rick Snyder plugs a massive hole in the state budget by selling both houses of the Michigan Legislature to billionaire transportation mogul and Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun.
In a joint press conference, Snyder and Moroun will assure a somewhat anxious public that they will still be allowed to elect their representatives and senators "in order to preserve participatory democracy," but that, as employees of the newly created Ambassador Legislative Enterprises Inc., the solons will take their marching orders directly from company officials. "This brings the efficiency of the private sector to government," they'll chirp in unison. "In a way, things aren't going to change that much," Snyder will note. "People probably won't even notice any real difference."
"Last year, in my successful attempt to keep the state from accepting Canada's generous offer of $550 million so that a new publicly owned bridge could be built in Detroit, I rented the Legislature for most of the year," the feisty octogenarian will explain. "That proved to be so successful I decided to just go ahead and buy the whole damn thing. I think that, in the long run, it's going to prove to be a good investment."
Those words will quickly prove to be prophetic when the privately owned Legislature, shortly after being seated, unanimously votes to lease the long-vacant Michigan Central Train Depot owned by Moroun to help him evade the expense of actually demolishing the place. The Legislature also unanimously votes to refurbish the towering structure at taxpayer expense and then relocate the state Capitol there.
"Matty wanted the Capitol in Detroit because that makes it more convenient for him to drop in whenever he wants to make sure we are actually working and not watching porn on our laptops like we used to do back in the day when we were still public servants," says one solon, speaking on condition of anonymity because he had not been authorized by company headquarters to answer press queries.
Goofing off won't be a problem. The new Legislature will waste little time authorizing an invasion of Ontario by the Michigan National Guard in order to make certain our neighbors across the river don't take any further action to impede progress on the new privately owned span Moroun has been unable to build.
"We are going to show all those socialist Canucks how capitalism really works," Moroun will say in an address to the state as the invasion is launched.
Spurred on by Moroun's bold actions, Amway heir Dick DeVos will be the next billionaire to come to the state's aid. Seeing the havoc wrought by cuts to education as property tax revenues continue to nosedive, he generously offers to buy all the state's public schools.
"Gov. Snyder is a tough negotiator, and we had to pay a pretty penny for all these schools, but in the end I think our business model is going to be a particularly lucrative one," DeVos will say. But it's not all about the money. With wife Betsy DeVos installed as the new superintendent of public education, they'll act quickly to return prayer to the classroom.
"And none of that mealy-mouthed nondenominational stuff," the couple will crow. "We are gong to be praying to the one and only true Lord."
Additionally, in a major overhaul of the K-12 science curriculum, all texts bearing any reference to the "theory" of evolution will be burned and replaced by books that reveal to students the masterful beauty and irrefutable logic of Creation Science.
In what will be touted as a model for other states to follow, Michigan's new school system will be entirely self-supporting, with all students serving as Amway sales reps. Along with learning valuable lessons about entrepreneurship, the students will also be schooled in the realities of "pay-as-you-go education," with the profits from peddled detergent and vitamins turned over to pay the salaries of their teachers and principals.
As with sports stadiums, the parent company will generate much of its revenue from selling the naming rights to every school. "Everybody wins," Dick DeVos will declare. "But the real beauty is that we win more than everyone else."
News Hits is written by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or [email protected].