Too often, your local government will have advocates of money-spending that holds out the promise of jobs, or some tangible benefit that can be presented in dollars gained back for the community.
The authors of such fiction typically seek to justify their own positions of employment within that community, and possibly within the government entity itself. Axiomatically however, all of them have a stake in the outcome of the requested spending. They will be asked for, and then will present metrics, or a presumed study of return on investment (ROI) and typically the elected leadership falls for it hook, line and sinker.
A perfect example was during a consideration of funding for the MSU extension office in Grand Traverse County when I was an elected commissioner. County commissioners were given plenty of reading materials by the MSU advocates to show us that for every dollar spent we would see a result of $17 in benefit to the county. The calculations as it turned out were premised on a ‘guess,’ that was then multiplied by a compounding analysis program that is used by MSU intellectuals, that relies on ‘guesses’ for the input variables.
Go. State. .. Yay.
The compounding of a fabricated initial ROI was barely questioned by the board, but even worse, there was one thing that was not even considered in all of the calculations, analysis, or presentation by MSU extension; and that was the COST of financing.
In no part of the presentation was there a hint of the benefit to the community of leaving the $1 itself in the hands of taxpayers, rather than giving it to the MSU extension. In none of the arguments made by the overpaid MSU doctoral type dispatched (hauled up in a frantic manner) to convince the county board of the benefit, was there an intent to reveal such a thing. (Nor was he able to explain the origin of the original ‘guess’ of benefit)
The answer when asked about it, was “We did not do that,” and in the end, funding was unanimously approved (and yes, it is the one ‘get-along’ vote I sincerely regret) and the charade was allowed to continue.
Similarly, the MEDC presents itself with promises of benefit in jobs and prosperity. Yet as difficult as it is to find even ONE of those promises realized, its made even worse that no study has been done to reveal what $millions that taxpayers might have reaped if they had in fact been able to keep that money.
The Mackinac Center’s Hohman and McHugh note that unburdening the taxpayer by even a little has real impact that is measurable:
“Job churn figures show how shortsighted this is. When 200,000 new jobs are needed every quarter just to stay even, even small tax changes can make a big difference. They affect millions of people and thousands of businesses, not just a handful.”
Significant decisions can be made by employers and enterprise that watch percentages many of us might otherwise ignore. Tiny changes in tax burden can open the doors to new opportunities within the larger number of interests that exist outside of the select few who benefit from the Michigan CEO’s largess.
So perhaps we consider the alternative to what we are currently seeing in our state?
Its about time Michigan stops running itself like a cash flush business, and gets back to the business of running only the necessary functions of government.