The Industrial Policy Blog references a news article ,and notes the state of Michigan is spending another $30 million to advertise Michigan as a tourist destination. The author points out correctly, that this is not the first time Michigan has gone down this road, and also suggests that for money to be spent on this project of boosting tourism, it must be taken from somewhere or someone first. Administrations from both parties have used tax dollars to promote business, tourism, and other economic enhancing projects in the past.
But what is the end result, and at what cost? Michigan’s tourism industry has always been one that pretty much spoke for itself. What more do you need than water on all sides, an abundance of scenic beauty and some pretty damned nice people. I have lived here all my life, and after looking around the country in my travels, cannot fathom living anywhere else. And allow me to point out there some pretty nice places in the US of A that are remarkable in their own right. So why do we advertise?
Advertisers will provide a litany of reasons for continued promotion of a product in light of its decreased or increased demand. In Michigan however, it may well be the need to show that the Democratic controlled Michigan government is trying to do something.. ANYTHING.. to prove it cares. However the “investment” in advertising for what everyone knows already, is questionable in light of increased travel costs and high fuel prices due to the same problems causing troubles in our manufacturing centers as well.
There was a grand proclamation by state economic development officials earlier this month. Certainly, they must have hoped anyone who was paying attention, was alumni of the Detroit Public school system.
Since their formation in 2006, the $95-million Venture Michigan Fund and the $109-million Michigan 21st Century Investment Fund have invested in six venture capital firms with either a headquarters or an office in the state. These firms have used the money and other capital to invest in 11 fledgling Michigan companies that have added 40 workers in recent years.
OK breaking out my abacus and my bag lunch.. add 3, subtract 44, divide it all by cherry pie, and.. viola! you have a Lot of money spent to get 40 jobs! hmm my abacus must be broken, I keep coming up with over $2 Million and a lot of change per job.. OK let me try the Computer.. ok.. poke 3 keys forward. and.. um and add…. huh.. I am going to have to let the press know.. Pentiums must still have that floating point error and I keep coming up with $2.7 some million per job.. Anyhow Ill get the hammer out to fix my calculator as well later. In the meanwhile, you’ll have to take my word for it that it really seems like a lot of money spent on each job created.
My point is that Michigan government, while stealing from your wallet for that which sustains it, is also taking a little extra to dabble in speculative activity. Instead of creating a lower tax, lower regulatory and burdensome environment, has decided IT WILL DECIDE who wins and who will lose.. at least until we all do. Films are more important than cars, Bio tech is more important than Maytag, renewable Fuels is more important than Food.. The list is nearly endless, and as a result of disdain for REAL industry, we circle back to the tourism part of it, which for all of its nifty imagery cannot make up for the REAL jobs created by a dying industrial base.
Michigan needs to stop squeezing the life out of the business that is here, stop pretending it is a market manager, and allow business some breathing room in which to fully experience the wonder that is this state’s people, and resources. The small profits we make in business become much smaller when those wonderful executive branch fund managers become our silent but not so impressive partners in business.
Governor, I will say it again. Get out of my pockets. I am still trying to wear these and your hands are too big.