Kwame’s and Bobbie’s ‘Bridge of Bucks’ over Telegraph Road
Now that Michigan voters have mercilessly dispatched Proposal 1 to the garbage can of history, lets talk a bit about the philosophy of a truly effective plan to get Michigan’s roads and bridges up to par. This will provide a proper foundation for developing a ‘Plan B’ which will actually improve Michigan’s roads and bridges, and be acceptable to the population as well.
The underlying premise of Proposal 1 was that the only action required to fix up Michigan’s roads and bridges was injecting big money into the Michigan Transportation Fund. The depraved philosophy of modern American government. Not true and the voters knew it. But Michigan’s power elite believed that opposition could be neutralized by icing a pile of feces with chocolate frosting. Didn’t work despite a lavish $ 10 million effort.
The condition of Michigan’s roads and bridges has only a casual relationship with the funds available in the MTF. In 2014, 11% of MTF funds were siphoned off by various State of Michigan Departments in the form of charge backs for ‘services’ rendered to the MTF, as well as priority grants that have little to do with roads and bridges. Debt service is also a component of this 11%, but that is effectively a payment for previous time preferences of bureaucrats and politicians. Then 9.5% of the remainder was diverted to the Comprehensive Transportation Fund for mass transit. Finally, the MTF was partitioned amongst the State Trunkline Fund (36%), county road agencies (34.6%), and cities (19.8%). In each partition, further funds are siphoned off by charge backs, pension payments, and OPEBs. What’s left for the roads is more a function of politicians and bureaucrats preferences at every level than the amount of money front loaded into the MTF.
So how do we proceed? First develop a philosophy to frame and inform the ‘Plan B’ debate. After the fold.
MITA gave another $ 25,000, new total circa $ 5.42 million
Michigan Aggregates Association gave $ 20,000, their first act of obeisance
PVS-Nolwood gave $ 25,000, new total $ 75,000
Operating Engineers Local 324 gave $ 35,000, new total $ 135,000
The motives of three late contributors are pretty obvious. PVS-Nolwood is a chemical company in Detroit specializing in acids and their disposal. As [a very profitable] part of this business, they unload neutralized acid byproducts on wastewater treatment plants as clarifiers. Those wastewater treatment plants just happen to be owned by various units of government which, in turn, use their water billings to rape the public at large. PVS-Nolwood have a long history of sucking up to Michigan’s power elites to further their very lucrative business interests.
SafeRoadsYes! has evidently burned through the $ 8 million plus they received in contributions during the regular reporting period and is now heading towards a $ 9 million cash burn. Hard to tell how much SRY have spent with any exactitude, the latest figures from April 24th show expenditures of $ 7.212 million. But they had a balance of $ 843,482 on that date which is presumably gone or going quickly. Expect more thrilling stunts and stimulating advertising in any event. Their war chest just got reloaded.
The paltry late contribution from MITA, taken together with the outsized contribution from the Detroit Regional Chamber, suggests that MITA is scraping the bottom of their member’s bank accounts. Or that they are employing a new form of campaign contribution concealment, feeding contributions through DRC’s Powering the Economy so contributors’ identities won’t be reported until after the election. Their servants in Michigan’s media reported the outsized involvement of road constructors in pushing Proposal 1 this week and it hasn’t played well with the voting public.
Will the Proposal 1 fight decapitalize Michigan’s road constructors? Will they raise their bids to recoup their political expenditures, further draining Michigan’s road funding? Are MITA and DRC gaming Michigan’s campaign finance laws to avoid any further embarrassing disclosures? Or have we just found out what $ 1.2 billion in additional annual contracts are really worth in profits to Michigan’s road constructors?
Will Proposal 15-1 become a bridge too far for the GoverNerd?
According to a colleague of mine, the power of government (at any level), over its law-abiding citizens, is directly derived from the taxation authority. Think about that for a moment or two. In a truly free society, the government has no means to control the behavior of its citizens who aren’t actual criminals, nor will those citizens tolerate any such action from their duly-elected public servants. And while the citizenry does indeed pay taxes – because even in a free society, the government still has the authority to tax – control of the taxation mechanism isn’t left to the arbitrary whims of government functionaries, and the true tax burden is plainly visible for all to see.
By that measure, it’s been at least five decades since Michigan was a truly free state. Since being gifted with an income-based taxation model, and a full-time legislative model, the state that was once the engine of freedom has progressively mutated into a socialist laboratory, at best a generation between now and whatever bankruptcy chapter awaits a nominally sovereign state collapsing into receivership. And in that regard, I don’t think it overly dramatic to suggest that this statewide special election to decide the fate of a legislative piece of sausage is similar to Gettysburg . . . if we don’t stop them here, then where will we ever be able to stop them at all?
The upside is that We the People received a bit of good news on this front yesterday, though how this’ll ultimately play out is still an open question.
Safe Roads YES! is already running media ads . . . why aren’t their opponents?
So, about three weeks ago, Safe Roads YES! launched their radio and television ad campaign, designed to convince us that jacking up our per-person state tax-and-fee burden by roughly $248.12 – permanently (not including inflation adjustments to the wholesale fuel tax) – is a good idea. To do so, they’re using the standard tactics of bogus statistics and emotional appeals, praying that the typical low-information voter isn’t going to do even the basic homework into the legislative piece of sausage that the GoverNerd and his hodge-podge of allies are doing their damnedest to slide by us roughly six weeks from now.
And you’d think that at least one of the organizations or individuals lined up to oppose the Michigan Sales Tax Increase for Transportation Amendment would have already snagged media buys for at least one well-produced television commercial. I’ll freely admit that I don’t spend much time in front of the boob tube these days, but I can’t seem to get through even one prime-time television show (regardless of channel) without seeing at least one Pro-1 30-second spot. The reason that bugs me (both the pro-1 ad campaign and the absence of an anti-1 ad campaign) has less to do with polling, and more to do with my understanding of voter behavior.