This week has been a watershed moment in our state’s economic history. The announcement on Monday by President Obama about the next phase of government-forced auto company restructuring sent shockwaves through the industry and state. By Wednesday, the Auto Czar was in Lansing huddling with the Governor no doubt answering her questions about what this means for GM, Chrysler, and Michigan. The message hasn’t been explicit, but is clear for: prepare for further government management.
This is disappointing on a number of levels but mostly because I sense we are about to miss a huge opportunity. We know that one of the biggest burdens on American auto companies is health care costs for employees and retirees which run as high as $1,500 per vehicle. When you consider that the costs for European and Japanese competitors are much lower (in the $400 and $200 per vehicle range respectively) the competitive disadvantage that the Detroit Three are put in due to government policy is clear. If the President is serious about reforming the American auto industry and his rhetoric about expanding health coverage is real, then this is a great place to start and an opportune moment to do it, though not likely. Despite this, I still have faith in President Obama and think his values are well placed and that his integrity is beyond reproach. In fact, I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather see in the White House . . . well, except maybe one other.
Tom Izzo for President!
As Spartan Head Coach, “Magnum T.I.” has led his team to five Final Four appearances and won it all in 2000. This year is extra special as it will all unfold at Ford Field and is a shiny green bright spot just when we need it most. But even more than his success and the timeliness of it is the way in which he does it. Izzo has built his program on the values he learned growing up in the U.P. — hard work, accountability, determination, teamwork, and family. As one reporter wrote, “Izzo has always worn his emotions on his sleeve. He’s never tried to be something he’s not. He almost always says exactly what’s on his mind, even if he knows he’s going to take heat for it.” Good words to live by, whether in your house, the State House, or the [Green and] White House.