Recession a Year Old?
Michigan has been in a recession for eight years. A few years ago, when the economy recovered for much of the country Michigan stayed in a recession. The main reason is how much we depend on the auto industry.
We have depended on it for too much for too long and everyone got greedy. The stockholders wanted big dividends. The Executives and management wanted huge pay and massive bonuses. The union wanted unrealistic wages with huge benefits and an unworkable retirement package. The government wanted huge corporate tax revenues. All of this, combined with too many losing models and all too often inferior products bled the Auto industry dry.
It could have continued a bit longer if it weren't for foreign competition but we'd have reached this point anyway.
Arrogance and greed. Workers had friends punch them in and out so they got paid without even showing up for work. Employees got paid to sleep if they made production. My great-grandfather was part of great sitdown strike in Flint when the UAW was born and my father always said he would be spinning in his grave if he knew what the the UAW that he fought so hard for had degenerated into.
Bottom line is this. Business is a dog-eat-dog enterprise and if you aren't tough and up to a fight with your competition you're going to lose everything. Greed and overconfidence caused our auto industry to grow fat and lazy, yes lazy. There were many hard-working people in the industry but they were overshadowed and overrun by those who simply wanted a fat paycheck, earned or unearned.
I was saying, and I still believe, that the politicians cannot save Michigan and the government cannot save Michigan. Our problems are cultural with unrealistic expectations and an unrealistic work ethic. We have come to expect massive paychecks for very little work.
There are some industries that are growing but sadly these are industries that do not help the economy, at least not enough that a state can depend on them. Healthcare, education, and temporary services do not create wealth and it is jobs that produce products that make a state's economy work.
The real shame is that Michigan is inherently a very rich state but we don't use it. When you total up our available natural resources Michigan is the most resource rich state east of the Mississippi but we are not set up to take advantage of it. We have not only water (lots of it), lumber and agricultural products but we have oil and massive mineral resources that are largely untapped. We need to look at these as a new foundation on which to rebuild our economy.
The government is incapable of helping us solve the real problem. It's up to us.
We have other problems. Our population is one of the most uneducated in the country with the highest drop-out rate in the country and fewer college graduates than most other states. Too many assumed that they could work in the auto plants and planned their whole lives around it. Those plans have gone up in smoke. We have two of the most dangerous cities in America within our state (Detroit and Flint). That too is a problem we have to solve.