Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Workers Left In The Dust by Akindele Akinyemi


I was reading this thing on Granholm's new "plan" called the No Worker Left Behind program. The program is a three-year initiative that is supposed to launch this summer, with around 7,500 workers getting free tuition for 2007-08 besides the 18,000 already being helped. More workers would be added in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years.
Perhaps it would be better if the proposal wasn't limited to workers who've lost their jobs—why should workers have to wait until they lose their jobs to upgrade their skills?
The other concern is who foots the bill? It sounds good on paper but when we examine the dollars and cents of the matter who is going to pay for it? It says "free" which is code for an underlying cost. And where are the unions in this picture. We know they want a cut of this.
Workers are being left behind is deeper than finding a job in Michigan. The quality of life has declined. Crime is up and revenues are down. So all of this hoopla over the latest Granholm scam is not going to keep young people in the State. Young people around my age are not inclined to switch professions after investing more than 6 years of higher education with possible loans to pay back.
I strongly feel that urban conservatives in the State of Michigan should began discussing two things. Either we are going to leave by the droves to stay and lobby on creating a Fresher Michigan.
We can keep young workers working by doing several things to the infrastructure. Michigan’s union-sponsored Prevailing Wage Act requires the needless spending of as much as $150 million by public schools every single year, and tens of millions more by other units of government. It should be repealed.
Other states have demonstrated substantial savings by privatizing the management of state prisons — contracting out services to private businesses. Estimates suggest Michigan could do that and cut its corrections costs by about $200 million. Privatizing creates job growth and wealth creation.
Florida pioneered Medicaid reform by voucherizing the program, dividing up Medicaid spending and giving the per-patient amount directly to beneficiaries. It reduced the state’s expenses and gave recipients more choice and incentives to economize. If Florida can do it, why not Michigan?
Higher education changes could produce tens of millions in savings — for example, moving to a per-pupil "foundation" grant like the one we have now for K-12 education; raising standards and spending less on "remedial" courses; or tying funding less to admissions and more to actual graduation rates.
Speaking of higher education it has been suggested to invest more in human capital by increasing state appropriations for colleges and universities. It has been argued that Michigan has reduced its support of public higher education in recent years; that education is key to economic development; and that accordingly, Michigan should recommit itself to excellence in higher education as a way of getting the state out of its economic doldrums.
The bottom line? More programs will not stop the bleeding of young people leaving Michigan. Hell, I'm an educator not a nurse. States like Texas do not even impose a state income tax. Neither does Florida. Also Texas is a right-to-work state with just 5 percent of employees unionized and has embraced global markets, leading the nation in exports.

Texas, like other states we are moving to, has successfully sold itself to investors as a pro-business state. That means a legal system that neither punishes nor exploits business and regulations that don't drive away jobs.

When you look at Michigan, which is still controlled by the labor unions and has a governor who preaches protectionism over free trade, we are still in the dark.
No Worker Left Behind has already been left in the dust.

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