In Nolan Finley’s article in the Detroit News today, Mr. Finley accuses the folks involved in the water mess in Flint of doing little but point fingers. While doing a fair amount of finger pointing himself, Mr. Finley is correct that little has been done to actually correct the situation. What Mr. Finley avoids pointing out is that so little is being done in large part due to the current leadership in Lansing in every chamber of elected government. This is not new. Because too many Republicans have taken a pledge to never raise taxes, regardless of challenges, the party cannot provide the leadership the state so sorely needs in many areas. Michigan residents should be appalled at the national and international image of our state being created by the pitiful level of cowardly non-leadership on display in Lansing.
Detroit Public Schools have been in financial free fall for over a decade. Our roads and bridges finally had a bill passed to do something about them, but only by passing legislation that contains a funding time bomb set to explode shortly after the current folks the legislature will be term limited out of office. (Dear Future, Enjoy our gift to you. XOXOXO, Lansing 2015. P.S. Boom!)
Meanwhile tax breaks to corporations continue unabated. Here in my neck of Michigan’s woods, school districts have been hammered by recent corporate tax shenanigans. By taking advantage of tax rules that the state has supported, companies are being allowed to have their businesses taxed as if their buildings were empty and unoccupied rather than flourishing and profiting. This has cost schools hundreds of thousands of dollars in expected funding. As in Flint, when it comes to questions of citizens vs. spending or corporate greed, current leadership in Lansing always choses greed and cronyism.
It does not have to be this way in the Republican party. Teddy Roosevelt fought and broke up monopolies and battled against political machines and their entrenched cronyism. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush raised taxes. Dwight Eisenhower warned against the military industrial complex. When faced with the needs of the people vs. simple greed, these leaders made hard choices and the criticism of their peers. There used to be a place for this type of leadership in the party. Unfortunately it has been replaced by stool pigeons who take and then uphold an unreasonable pledge on taxes. A good politician should have identified beliefs but should also allow that circumstances dictate over dogmatic pledges.
Here in Michigan the citizenry suffers while the state burns. Voters would do well to seek out politicians who do not swear allegiance to nonsensical oaths and the puppet masters who write, finance, and impose them.