Last week, while Michiganders shivered through more subnormal temperatures and watched their crop yields freeze from a summer of too-cool weather, a green echo chamber of media, government bureaucrats and activists gathered for a Midwest Governor's Association (MGA) conference in downtown Detroit to draw a "Midwestern Energy Security and Climate Stewardship Roadmap" to help Michigan navigate around . . . global warming.
No one seemed more out of touch than Gov. Jennifer Granholm, MGA chairwoman, who declared that Michigan's manufacturing future lay in making windmills to meet state caps on CO2 emissions. The governor's claim that Michigan is perfectly situated to produce the green jobs of the future betrays her fundamental misunderstanding as to what made Michigan an international manufacturing powerhouse in the first place.
A Big Labor Democrat, Granholm believes that Michigan's strength comes from shepherding home-grown labor and resources to meet a government goal of alternative energy production.
In fact, Michigan's historic success has relied on providing entrepreneurs and industry a business climate whereby they maximized the resources at their disposal - both home-grown and imported - to produce products that consumer markets demanded.
A case in point is the governor's claim that Michigan is at a disadvantage because it imports most of its energy. By shunning cheap coal and mandating home-grown windmills, she says, Michigan would win by retaining energy jobs and money. But by this perverse logic, West Virginia (currently 49th in per capita income) would be America's richest state because it exports most of its vast energy resources.
In fact, Michigan became a manufacturing juggernaut because it embraced both in-state (timber, water) and out-of-state (steel, coal) resources to create efficiencies that ultimately enabled its auto industry to attract workers from all over the country - and the world.
"We know that the globe is going to need those solutions," declared Gov. Granholm about green energy on Fox News Sunday. But how can she possibly "know" this?
At the turn of the 20th century, automakers thought they "knew" that customers wanted battery-powered vehicles, the industry norm. Yet only a few years later, Henry Ford would develop a gasoline-powered car that was cheaper and easier to produce than electrics and would revolutionize transportation and make Michigan rich in the process.
No government program or Renewable Power Standard drew a roadmap for Mr. Ford.