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- March 14th, 2011
Snyder delivers promise
For years Michigan politicians have played the coward’s role by deferring
difficult financial and taxation issues to future generations. Fearful for
their re-elections, legislators shelved problems and used band-aids and
gimmicks to muddle through annual budgets while continually failing their
elected responsibilities.
]Governor-elect Snyder campaigned on a promise to address the difficult
issues with shared burdens, to rectify tax inequities and to spur
employment opportunities for our young people by softening business taxes
and mitigating onerous regulations. Governor Snyder’s proposed budget is a
campaign promise fulfilled.
Now it’s time for our spineless Legislature, whose souls are owned by
every special interest except the average citizen, to cease their endless
nit-picking and pass the Snyder budget as proposed.
Michigan’s citizens deserve better of our elected Legislature than
grand-standing and critiquing without providing alternatives.

Michael Estes • TC

Rein in public unions
Steven Tuttle’s column “A War Against the Middle Class” (2/28) asserts
that “we are now witnessing a full-blown assault on the middle class.” In
Mr. Tuttle’s world, “the middle class” consists of unionized state
employees and the “full-blown assault” is reining in their history of
sweetheart deals with politicians who are only too happy to give them
other people’s money. Mr. Tuttle is talking about Gov. Snyder’s
recognition that the salary, pension, and health-care contracts for state,
county, and municipal employees are more than these governments can
afford. As a result, Michigan has joined Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, and
Wisconsin in wanting public employees to contribute more to their own
pensions and health care.
Why the focus on benefit packages? Increasingly, unions have asked for
increases in benefits, not salaries. The reason is two-fold. First, unlike
income, benefits are not taxed. Second, when governments with
billion-dollar debts can no longer continue to be generous, unions can
point to small salary increases, but fail to mention where the big money
has gone.
For example, in New Jersey, the cost for pension and health care for state
workers alone over the next 30 years is projected to amount to $100
billion. So, the governor asked the teachers’ union for a one-year pay
freeze and a 1.5% contribution to their benefits package. The union said
no.
In Wisconsin, public employees’ contributions to their own pensions is
one-fifth of a penny on every dollar of income. In addition, they
contribute one-fourth of what private-sector employees contribute for
their health plans.
These state governments now recognize that they cannot continue to
obligate taxpayers to fund fiscally unsustainable pensions for roughly 15%
of their populations. Therefore, we are seeing moves to limit collective
bargaining to salaries and wages in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana.
Michigan’s situation is also dire. As reported in the Detroit News on Jan.
3, state government costs for employee pay and benefits increased by $800
million from 2001 to 2008, despite an 18% decrease in state employees.
These astounding numbers come from the Michigan Department of Civil
Service.
Tuttle talks about union contracts providing “a livable wage” and “some
benefits.” However, a recent study revealed that the average cost (pay
plus benefits) of a state employee in Michigan had gone from $63,474 a
year in 2001 to $93,039 in 2008. That’s an increase of 46.5%.
Tuttle makes his argument against what Gov. Snyder wants to do with plenty
of hard data. However, he is careful to describe the public employees’
situation with nothing but self-serving adjectives. I wonder why?
Am I a corporate fat cat or private-sector employee who is green with envy
of public-employees? Quite on the contrary, I taught at public schools for
36 years. During that time, did I see the salaries and benefits for me and
my colleagues grow far faster than the cost of living, appalling waste of
public funds, and teacher unions consistently blocking efforts to improve
education while running to the defense of lousy teachers at the detriment
of their students? Was Abe Lincoln honest?

Charles Finley, Ph.D. • Beulah

War on the middle class
Republicans have launched a plan to destroy America’s middle class. Their
goal is a Mexican model with a very rich elite and a very poor working
class. To do this:
1. Take away health care and our ability to negotiate it.
2. Gut our public schools; the rich prefer a private school system.
3. Tax cuts for the wealthiest; pay cuts for the middle class.
4. Pretend to complain about illegals, but then provide them jobs to keep
them here.
5. Foment a class war between the middle class and the poor by painting
unions as greedy elite.
FOX News, the rich man’s Tokyo Rose, is trying to rewrite history and
blame our economic problems on the middle class. Remember, it was the
Republican-led unprovoked war in Iraq and the Republican deregulation of
banks that sent our economy into a spiral.

Terry Frysinger • Frankfort

Illegal immigration woes
This letter is in regard to the recent discussion on illegal immigration.
Specifically, the letter by Susan Wheadon in the March 7 issue. I tend to
agree with letter writer Scott Roelofs’ perspective.
It’s easy for a person to make statements based on what he or she would
like to believe. Whether or not a certain illegal immigrant is a good,
hard-working person is not the issue. To objectively understand, one needs
to consider the billions of dollars these people are costing this country.
Then we need to beam down to the border with Mexico and observe the flood
of Hispanics coming into this country illegally, many with bad intentions.
Where is the first place they go? They go to the barrios in the cities.
Many of them register for welfare and free medical care. A small
percentage of these immigrants actually find work. The social and economic
cost of this scourge on America is staggering. This should not be a
conservative vs. liberal issue - it affects all of us.
In the late ’70s, I was a crew foreman at a large landscape nursery in the
suburbs of Chicago. Except for us foremen, our entire workforce was
illegal Mexican immigrants. Most of them were nice and friendly and,
except for the time one of them pulled a knife on me, we got along well.
One day, I came to work and there was nobody there. It was like a ghost
town. I went to the office and was told they had fled - there had been a
huge brawl the night before in the Mexican quarters which had started over
someone’s beer. Afterwards, fearing getting caught by immigration
authorities, they all just disappeared. One of my crew was in the local
hospital with a bad head injury. Amazingly, the next day when I went to
work, we had all new workers! Hector, the head Mexican, had simply gone
into the city to the barrio and gotten all the new workers we needed. But
first, he made them each pay him a fee for giving them the job. Given
today’s illegal immigrant situation, this clandestine cycle is still
rampant. Only now it’s much worse.
Despite Ms. Wheadon’s impress-ion, Leelanau and neighboring counties, with
their pastoral and Arcadian image, do not reflect the real world of
illegal immigration. It’s not even close.
But the cause of this drain on American resources is not limited to just
Hispanic illegals. It applies to all illegal immigrants, regardless of
race or ethnic group. I do not buy the argument that Americans don’t want
to do the work they do. Hogwash. Illegals, in fact all immigrants, will
work for substandard wages. But we need to recognize that the employers
who hire them are part of the problem. All immigrants need to go through
the proper proceedure and get their legal citizenship or work visas. If
not, they shouldn’t be here.
And where is our allegience to our country and our own unemployed? It
defies common sense.

Bob Jones • Glen Arbor

Miscarriage of justice
Re: “Controversial Cases,” 3/7:
After reading this article, I can only hope that the Justice Department
launches a full investigation, punishes the guilty and exonerates the
innocent. This story is disturbing on so many levels and I hope that Mr.
Corso’s name is cleared.

Roxanne Becker Wortham
via email


 
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