Tuesday, October 04, 2005

If you are interested in running for state office...

...you better read this. (hint, hint bob lee)

Matt at MichiganLiberal started a discussion of what we need to do to get the economy going:

At the next great economic calamity to befall our state - perhaps the bankruptcy of General Motors-spinoff Delphi, or GM itself - ask Michigan's TV stations for an hour of time for an "emergency address" to the people of Michigan. Try to pick a night that's slow ratings-wise - so they're more likely to air your speech. Don't do what Mr. Bush does and go off somewhere in front of a colorful background filled with subliminal messages, or use rescue helicopters or American soldiers as props. No, do your address from the Governor's office - the nice one with the big desk in the Capitol. Make damn sure someone competent is in charge of sound, video and lighting. Pay them yourself if necessary. Everything needs to be perfect. If it isn't, you're doomed.
That's how Matt started, here is some of his ideas:

What are some ideas? Well, what are the most serious problems the state faces, and what might actually fix them? For starters, I'd say reform of the health care system. Simplicity is the key here. Don't pollute your proposal with a bunch of extraneous provisions to satisfy this lobbyist or that. But you're smart, you know this already (read more of my thoughts on health care here).

Public works projects for laid off workers. You've already touched on this a little. But I really think you need to kick it up a few notches. People should see these crews working in their communities, and be able to identify them. Folks should be able to look out on their street know that "Governor Granholm put those people to work."

Also, just like the WPA did, pick some high profile locations, and have people work there. For instance have the state take possession of some of the abandoned landmarks in our urban areas and make them new again. When people drive by the old Michigan Central railroad terminal, or the old Book Cadillac hotel and see lights on and people working, they'll know that Governor Granholm did that. That's the kind of thing you do to inspire confidence, to make people want to keep trying...to give them hope.
The discussion went on in the comments, I (posting as chanupi), being the neophyte to Michigan tax and budget policy, asked how do we pay for this?

jmgear answered quickly:

How to pay for the necessary massive public investment that Michigan needs?

Easy -- STOP taxing the things you WANT the economy to produce more of (jobs, savings, investment, urban renewal) and START taxing the things you want less of (energy consumption, depletion of nonrenewable resources, emission of pollution, urban decay and land speculation).

So, for her fireside address on the economic emergency, here's the pitch:
  1. Michigan income tax goes to zero
  2. Single business tax goes to zero
  3. In land zoned residential and commercial, all property tax is levied on the land, not the buildings -- that way, anyone sitting on vacant land for speculation pays the full freight, same as if the land was 100% built out. Thus, anyone improving their land is not hit with a tax increase as a "thanks" from Michigan.
Housing and rental costs drop as all the property currently being held off the market has to come back on the market, and new construction soars; builders would have to build low-income housing because the rich can't live in more than one house at a time, and most of the land being held for speculation is in depressed areas where the rich won't live. So we address the shelter shortage and put people to work at the same time.

4) Make up for any lost revenues and provide the funds needed for the state investment program by

a) taxing all fuels in proportion to carbon content and with graduated taxes on residential and business energy use (i.e., those consuming the most pay at a higher rate).

b) taxing import or production of any non-recyclable technical materials ("technical materials" are, essentially, anything you couldn't put into your garden): so rechargeable batteries escape the taxes, as do #1 and #2 plastic drink bottles -- but non-rechargeable batteries and anything packaged in #3-#7 plastic pays a tax. Taxes are applied at the wholesale level so that they are administratively cheap and show up in prices in proportion to use.

5) Institute a statewide "pay at the pump" auto liability insurance system, where we add the no-fault insurance premium to the gas, rather than making everyone buy it from profit-making insurance companies. This way, people only pay in proportion to the amount they drive, the overhead and markup of the insurance companies is eliminated, and we get 100% coverage, instead of our 10-12% ininsured motorists rate, which is a form of stiff tax on all of us who have to carry UIM coverage. (You keep it a private system though, in that you let insurance companies by bid to service the policies for blocks of 10,000 drivers in balanced-risk blocks. In other words, you take the fat out of the system, make it work better, but don't take it over.)

You raise more than you need here, and you dedicate the funds to paying for the necessary investments in mass transit and urban renewal and redesign (to reduce the need for mobility entirely).

6) Paving moratorium -- a "no net loss" of land policy effective immediately. That way, anyone who wants to pave any land area has to restore an equivalent amount of land in the state. (You can tailor this to increase the rewards -- so that someone can get an extra "area" reward for restoring land near streams and rivers, for instance.)

Excellent stuff. We need to start having discussions like these, if we are to get out of the hole Engler and the Rethuglicans have dug for us.


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