On his Facebook page, State Rep. Justin Amash, R-Kentwood, has posted the text of an e-mail sent by MEA school employees union Communications Director Doug Pratt to Rep. Tim Melton, D-Pontiac, chair of the Education Committee:

Ideas: Stop reforming (which is your code for more cuts to programs and school employees) and just raise taxes already. Schools are more efficient now then (sic) they ever have been — and the majority of them are doing a good job. We have to help those that are struggling, but you're not even painting with a broad brush anymore in talking about schools — you're throwing a bucket of paint at the wall.

Put in a graduated income tax...I can afford to pay to have good schools for my kid and others in my community. And put a tax on services...it is ridiculous that I pay a tax on clothes for my son or a night out at a restaurant (pretty normal middle class things) and I don't pay tax on my landscaping bills, my snow removal, my season tickets, my golf rounds, or my dry cleaning (all things that I and any other family in Michigan could do without if we chose). And don't feed me the line that it'll hurt our economy. I was just in Chicago over the weekend and bought a book at a Borders on Michigan Ave that had a 10.25% sales tax on it. That's almost double what we charge here...and I didn't wait until I came home to buy the book...

Estimated Savings: None...in fact, it'll cost more.

Impact on Classroom Learning: The investment we can make in small class sizes, more supplies, books and technology, and early childhood education (sic)

Interested in Testifying: No

By "reform," Pratt means measures that bring school employee benefits more in line with ones in the private sector, and that impose greater accountability (like merit pay).

And so we see the process by which "Detroitification" is promoted, that hollowing out of the private sector to prop up an unsustainable government (and school) establishment.

Why unsustainable? Because those union-dominated establishments are political operations that have created incentives for elected officials to keep boosting public employee pay and benefits, while resisting any productivity-improving changes that impose greater accountability on the system and its beneficiaries.

If that means extracting ever more loot from a shrinking private sector economy, too bad. If that creates a downward spiral in which those ever-larger extractions cause the private sector to shrink ever more severely, too bad.

What precisely are those incentives that push lawmakers? Unionized government and school employees have made themselves into a "Praetorian Guard," unified, well-organized and well-funded, who use their well-honed political swords and shields to protect those "emperors" who keep the loot flowing — and knock off any who threaten it.

When Doug Pratt and other government union officials talk about raising taxes, what they're really saying is, "You can take a hit to your income and economic security, but don't even think about asking my politically powerful troops to give up a penny of their pay and bennies (including full health coverage for age-50-something retirees). And we have the power to make it stick."