Recently, I started to listen to WDET's program on the way to work, "Detroit Today". I think you can figure out what the news program focuses on, thanks to that imaginative title.
But this post isn't really about that, so much as about two sites that were highlighted on the show: bloggers Eric Baerren and Nick De Leeuw. Except this isn't really about them, either, but about adding some more Michigan news/opinion in my occassional (possible) rants on news-of-the-day because the usual Memeorandum crowd is starting to sound repetitive and screechy and basically cross-yelling at one another without any sort of actual discourse and I need a break.
Basically, I'm of the opinion you can't really figure out what is going on until you hear both sides - the truth is, more often than not, somewhere between the left's and right's bullet points.
But, what I really wanted to post on is this little tidbit from Michigan Liberal:
[T]he Michigan Democratic Party is considering putting one of five other proposals on the ballot
- Mandating all employers to provide affordable health care for their employees and dependents or pay a penalty.
- Raising the minimum wage from $7.40/hour to $10/hour and covering all workers with no exceptions.
- Increasing unemployment benefits by $100/week, making all workers eligible and adding six months to the time one can receive benefits.
- Cutting utility rates by 20%.
- Imposing a one-year moratorium on home foreclosures.
I'm not really a fan of ballot proposals in general... (1) because we're a representative government, not a direct democracy - our elected officials are supposed to be the ones to introduce laws and ratify them or turn them down. And, I do get the reason behind them - to force government to listen to the people when they seem to ignore our needs or desires, but I just think they cause more problems than they solve in general. (2) It's impossible for us, the voters, to have all of the facts that allows us to make a reasonable or accurate conclusion about the effects of what we're about to do. Instead, we get 'talking points' which illuminate nothing, except which side a particular partisan's bread is buttered on. (3) I think it's just too easy to make wide sweeping changes that are difficult to quantify and could lead to unintended consequences based on 'gut reactions' or 'feelings' of the electorate, rather than sensible facts.
However, it is what it is and we have these proposals in Michigan, so....
#1: This one bugs me, even though I understand the desire to have employer's provide health coverage and mine does, thankfully. What I don't like about it is this part particularly, "affordable health care" or "pay a penalty". How, exactly is an employer to decide what is "affordable" enough to not be penalized? And, how is any business other than the actual insurance companies supposed to decide on the costs of this "affordability". It seems to be that any legislation should encourage employers to provide health insurance via tax incentives or other types of rewards (perhaps by giving preferential treatment in government contracts, for instance), but mandating presents problems to me without targeting the insurance companies themselves and the health care systems as a whole need to be reviewed and audited to see where they are gouging their customers. Without legislation controlling costs and what can be charged the 'end-user', I don't see how you can target other companies to "provide insurance or else".
#2: I support increasing the minimum wage for all workers. If you're doing a job, you shouldn't have to wonder if it wouldn't make more economic sense to go on assistance instead. I'd support this increase, especially the "no exceptions" part. Small business shouldn't get to underpay their employees, just cause their small. Do I think $10/hr is a fair rate? I don't know... I'd need more information about our inflation rate and cost of living compared to the hourly rate (can people afford to eat on their wage), but the partner was making that at the local convenience store and if they could afford it on the limited "island" business, then anyone should be able to afford to pay that much in wages.
#3: Considering our current financial woes, I'd support this - but how are we going to pay for it? Will the Federal Stimulus cover this? If not, what's the shortfall and where will it come from?
#4: This one strikes me as rediculous. How are you going to impose a 20% rate cut on the energy companies without any regard for what the energy costs them to transmit along the grid, or to generate said power. They have employees too, and you know what will happen if they are forced to swallow an arbitrary, imposed cut to the energy rate of this magnitude... more unemployment. Exactly who will that help? This is political grandstanding and will hopefully be swiftly and quietly dropped without another word.
#5: I'd be completely supportive of this idea. It takes longer for people to seek out assistance and get through the red tape then they have to actually stall a foreclosure, especially with the backlog of those needing to modify or re-negotiate their debt. A one year breather will enable everyone to take a step back and see what can really be done to ensure the foreclosure doesn't happen due to circumstances beyond a person's control (I'm not talking about those who stupidly decided to put zero down with any interest rate that was going to jump 4 points in the future - although they'll undoubtedly benefit from this proposal. I'm more concerned with the newly unemployed who are searching for jobs that aren't there at this point and are suddenly in a panic because the mortgage is slipping behind (although they have an insurance to cover that, which I have and which I think a prudent person should have signed up for).
I think some of these are just 'feel good' proposals to cynically get votes without considering what the consequences will be in the long run and that's a disservice to the people of Michigan by the Democratic Party wags.