Michigan with one of the worst economies in the nation just keeps giving us fodder for how not to fix an economy. In short, they keep coming up with hairbrained idea after hairbrained idea. The Detroit News’ latest editorial argues that what “Michigan faces is not a shortage of revenue, but an excess of idiocy.” The latest proposal will have the added bonus of not improving education. On Thursday, House Democrats offered this one up, “a spending plan that would buy a MP3 player or iPod for every school child in Michigan.” No, I didn’t make that one up…and check out what the Detroit News had to say about this idea, “An iPod for every kid? Are they !#$!ing idiots?” There’s a host of new spending programs and pledges to spend additional money in existing programs too–including floating bonds to pay for health care (that’s right, Michigan is following in California’s footsteps and pulling out the credit card to pay for expenses!). Figuring out how to pay for all these ideas hasn’t been worked out yet but Rep. Steve Tobocman (D-Detroit) suggested that raising the income tax, levying a 6 percent tax on some services, and taxing junk food and soda were options all on the table. Only option that seemed dead on arrival was cutting the budget. The last four lines from the Detroit News editorial say it better than I could ever hope for, so I’m just copying it: “Stop the stupidity. Michigan can’t tax or spend its way out of this economic catastrophe. The only responsible option is to bring spending in line with current revenues. The mission must be to expand the tax base, rather than to expand taxes, by crafting a budget that encourages growth. We won’t get there by wasting money on early Christmas presents for Michigan kids.”
Geoffrey Segal is the director of privatization and government reform at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. He is also editor of Reason's Privatization Watch.