The days activities started off with a pledge of allegiance, and a well done two verse rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. We then broke out into several groups including “how bad is it?,” “Underground media,” “Headlines & Interviews,” and “sign on the dotted line.” The group I attended was the most former, which had as panel speakers Ken Braun of the Mackinac center, former state rep Jack Hoogendyk, the Blog Prof, Jack McHugh, and Paul Kearsey of the Mackinac Center.
The discussion began with the opinions of each on the panel on the state of the state, and a general relationship to the nation as a whole. There was a reasonable discussion on the on how the nation has pretty much been built on cheap and abundant energy. the Blog prof, an engineer who has as much knowledge on the subject pointed out several flaws in the current set of mandates and how we as a nation are handling our energy needs.
For the most part however the “how bad is it” discussion served as a way to get a feel from the participants what they currently had objections to, when discussing government, and our leadership. Concerns of the size of government, with one attendee asking the panel about the benefits of a part time legislature, and also reducing the over all size of government. The Mackinac center’s Jack McHugh suggested what we need to do is to change the rewards so the incentives don’t lead to bigger government, but lead to the reduction. Paul Kearsey suggested to reduce the size of government in this state we need to cut off the slush fund of the Unions. which amounts to unaccountable activity from union dues.
Jack Hoogendyk gave some valid arguments for a part time legislature. He insisted a citizen legislature would serve Michigan much better. Using pay vs MEA wages as example.. Citing potential hypocrisy, he suggested it was hard to argue with the MEA folks about keeping the cost of teachers salaries under control, all the while earning the $80K+ benefits salary, that is the Michigan legislators compensation.
One attendee asked if the 10th amendment legislation would go further than sitting in committee where it is now. Ken Braun suggested the 10th amendment issue is a “non starter,” suggesting that once it is done, then what? Another attendee argued someone (some state) had to start. Citing her representative’s answer to her query on a constitutional convention of 32 states, she noted he said “sure we can do that when another state starts.”
Another discussion rallied around making sure the voter is heard when trying to influence that voters wishes on the legislature. A decent back and forth between a couple of attendees on term limits (for and against) Many different takes including the term “seat hopping,” which refers to jumping from one term limited seat to another.
Energy and our ability to acquire, and use cheap energy was recognized as an issue which has really affected us through unrealistic legislation which is stalling our economy. One comment.. government is increasing all costs and is basically a fraud, what can we do to to stop? The Blog Prof (an engineer in this field) says regulatory is big part of the problem.. fermi reactor takes 6 yrs for license alone.. then another 4-5 years to build to output. He further points out the entire cycle to build wind or alt energy devices as likely more damaging to the environment.
Discussions took a side step on nuclear with nuclear power “pebble bed” technology mention.. for smaller footprint design, PROF commented on why the design became popular.. but said to not expect anything but the water model of nukes.. He noted that a Fermi II facility employs about 1000 ppl. Jack McHugh mentioned the ignorance of the general population about what it actually takes to power civilization now.. Nuclear power readily provides enough energy that the entire pop of the earth could be used to provide middle class life style.
One attendee noted the “Libertarian,” and “Constitutionalists” elements of the Tea Party movement.. He asked whether it might be considered a third party at this point… as demonstrated by disagreement with Republicans and Democrats alike with expansion of govt. In this defining a movement, Jack McHugh spoke of “letting a hundred flowers bloom” as to the multitude of organizations trying to do something for solutions. (AFP, Mac Center, etc..)
Jack Hoogendyk expounded on how we need to reconstruct tax policy and pointed to the MI Fair Tax table as one demonstrated solution. One attendee’s Fair tax question.. How it would affect vehicle sales and collecting sales tax driving the buyers over the state line? One attendee agreed and suggested we don’t have enough stakeholders in the financing of government. He thought the fair tax might be the better alternative to get EVERYONE paying the fair share. And if it gets tough, then family steps up.
The Dept. of Health & Human Services budget was brought up.. apparently the DHHS budget has about 25% discretionary component.. That part of it which can be legislated away, and does not have a fiscal requirment. Hoogendyk calls it one of the most dysfunctional departments in the state, citing a few general types of problems.
One attendee asked “what are legitimate functions of Michigan govt?” It inspired a range of answers with Hoogendyk speaking on how he asked himself if the laws he voted on would fit with a limited govt concept before he would decide. The Blob Prof mentioning that government is now instead of welfare cuts, is punishing voters with a “human shield strategy.. Police cuts prison cuts, fire cuts.. Putting public safety as a face on the need to raise taxes.
Other issues, inflation, hyperinflation, value added taxes, and more on energy policy.. All of it relevant, and all of it a concern to the attendees, who have dedicated themselves to learning more on where we are truly at, how we might place back on the rails this train wreck we only know as our Michigan and Federal government.
This first part of the Tea Party Convention helped to determine where we are at. It helped us set the point which we understand what is ahead of us. The other sections dealing with procedure and tactics. Later sessions helped us determine where were going to focus our energies in an attempt to re-collar our government.
There were a couple hundred folks from all walks of life, including a guest speaker Jen Gratz who was discriminated against by an overly aggressive affirmative action stance of an over reaching government. This served as a rallying point to pass the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, an amendment to the state constitution which passed HANDILY and required support from both side of the aisle to do so. The importance of this event should be appreciated as many of the high profile political candidates made time to stop in as well. Land, Cox, Emmons, etc..
There is much more to the convention than the notes and a few highlights I have posted here, but one thing taken away from this event that folks should know.. It ain’t over. The Tea Parties are working, but they are not merely isolated events. This is a movement.