Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Michigan Ouch

Over the last month we've seen several events which will permanently shift the economic reality of Michigan.

1) Northwest Airline's mechanics strike, which flopped and ended up in a busted union, had no consequence for NWA. This marks a major turning point for unions in Michigan - they have lost the organizational power and they don't have the sympathy of the average Joe.

2) Delphi's Bankruptcy. This will have some very far-reaching effects, and it is already starting to ripple. Not only is it likely that thousands more manufacturing jobs will be lost here in Michigan (including some in the Grand Rapids area), the Unions are suddenly on their heels. Nearly immediately after the Delphi Bankruptcy filing, GM and the United Auto Workers worked out an agreement to shave billions off GM's health care bill.

3) Today, the Detroit News reported that October car sales dropped to a seven year low. Total Big Three US market share dropped from 57% in October of 2004, to 52.4% in October of 2005. In the mean time, Toyota captured 15.1% of the market, the highest ever for that company. This will continue to have far-reaching effects on the Big Three (Ford and GM in particular) and will put further pressure on those companies to achieve higher cost savings, in turn putting pressure on the UAW for more concessions.

Things aren't looking good. What can be done to help? Michigan must aggressively become a business-friendly state to attract non-manufacturing jobs. How do we do that?

1) Eliminate the single business tax - the most onerous business tax in the nation.

2) Lift the cap on charter schools - our traditional public school systems are collapsing under their own bureaucratic weight. A market in education will fix this problem. Competition will improve achievement for all students.

3) Pass a "right to work" law which allows employees to decide whether or not to join a union when they take a job at a union shop.

Those are just first steps. Hopefully we can stand up to special interests in order to improve the economic situation for all Michiganders - but we're not holding our GR Pundit breath.

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