Thursday, October 15, 2009

Holy Crap: Art Prize Draws Thousands To Grand Rapids Part Two

This my second post about Michigan and the Grand Rapids Artprize contest.

I feel I still need to provide more context to give one some idea how hopeless and deep the troubles in Michigan go. Green shoots in fertile, well watered soil in a sunny climate are not news. Grand Rapids is not widely known as an arts attraction. It has no Carnegie International and even more importantly, Michigan is perceived for good reason by most people as an intractable hell hole. It has an activist governor trying every trick in the book to "help her state", (minus the logical ones that would really help.)

Few dispute how hard she has worked, running all over the state, country and world with handouts, job incentives; snazzy new initiatives and regulations paid for by people other than herself to turn Michigan around.

"Michigan felt the recession first and hardest. The state ranks fifth in foreclosures and last in attracting new residents. Nearly 20 percent of its citizens are on Medicaid. As the auto industry has shrunk, so has tax revenue. The state government technically shut down for nearly two hours early Thursday over a budget crisis, and the legislature and governor are still tussling over how to resolve a projected $2.8 billion deficit. Underlying all of the grim statistics is the loss of jobs. Michigan has had the nation's highest unemployment rate -- now 15.2 percent -- for most of the past three years."

Granholm Touts Green Jobs

Swedens Carl XVI Gustaf Meets Governor Granholm to Explore New Alternative Energy Business Collaborations and Initiatives

"In her effort to attract employers, the governor has taken up the latest arms in the economic arsenal -- tax credits, loans, Super Bowl tickets and a willingness to travel as far as Japan for a weekend to try to persuade an auto parts company to bring more jobs to Michigan. She has won solar and wind energy, electric car batteries, and movie production jobs. About 10,800 of the new positions came from overseas companies, according to her office, the fruits of visits to seven countries."

But what are the net results???? Granholm tells a tale that as bad as things are they would be so much worse without her efforts which is a way of getting around the fact that --

"Michigan has lost 870,000 jobs -- about 632,000 of them during Granholm's tenure. The number is expected to reach 1 million by late next year, the end of her term."

And it didn't just start losing jobs in the last year or two.

The news was grim in other areas, too. In 2005:

• 19% of children in Michigan lived in poverty, up from six years ago.

• Almost a third of the state's African Americans lived below the poverty level.

• Detroit remained one of the poorest big cities in the country with almost a third of its residents living below the poverty line.

• Cities and townships posted drops in median household incomes ranging from 24% to 6% and poverty rates increased in all but three cities.

Even the jobs Granholm is touting as having "created" seem hardly sustainable. She seems to be good at attracting a particular breed of company.

Companies who are losing money and have no profits yet.

Companies with no profits who can't attract private equity investment or loans without massive government subsidies.

Of course, the rational employers that still make money or hope to do so have been getting out of the state.

This is why she has to do this.

Granhom begs for stimulus cash

Here Steve Wynn and the governor of Indiana which is also a big manufacturing state try to knock some sense into her.

The Indiana Governor seems hardly thrilled about having his taxpayers pay for the endless troubles of states like Michigan.

Anyway, I promise the next post will get to the actual Artprize and why I think it might be so important.

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