Program:                Consumer involvement program

Appropriation:

All from GF/GP:

$189,100

 

Total:

$189,100[14]

Program Description:

This appropriation funds the Consumer Involvement program.  This program is designed to help consumers participate in policy forums and self-help groups.  It also funds a consumer “hotline.”

Recommended Action:

Eliminate this program.  Consumers are capable of such participation without a state program.  Consumers have been buying and selling goods in the marketplace and solving consumer-related problems since long before this state program.  If this service is needed it should be provided through a voluntary association.  Savings: $189,100.

Program:                Gambling addiction

Appropriation:

All from Special Revenue Funds:

$3,500,000

 

Total:

$3,500,000[15]

Program Description:

This appropriation subsidizes education and research into pathological gambling, as well as for treatment and for the operation of a 24-hour “help line.” The services are funded with revenue from the Michigan State Lottery, Department of Agriculture (horse racing) and by the three Detroit casinos.

Recommended Action:

The state could cease this operation entirely.  Few policy issues better illustrate contradictory functions of state government than gambling. On the one hand, nearly all forms of gambling have historically been illegal, and most still are. Yet for the last 30 years the state has owned and run its own gambling operation, the state lottery, and it sanctions and profits from a growing number of casinos around the state. Now, the state both encourages gambling through the Michigan State Lottery, and also discourages it through this program.  Those with gambling problems do need help, but such assistance should be provided by local community organizations.  Savings: $3,500,000.

Program:                Mental health initiatives for older persons

Appropriation:

All from GF/GP:

$1,165,800

 

Total:

$1,165,800[16]

Program Description:

This appropriation funds respite care (substitute caregivers who give regular caregivers a “respite”) and daycare services; it also provides training in Alzheimer’s Disease and related health issues to home healthcare providers. In fiscal year 2003, $385,000 went to training, data analysis, research and technical assistance (33 percent of the total allocation) while $780,600 (67 percent) went to respite and daycare services.[17]

Recommended Action:

This program could be eliminated.  Where needed, these services should be provided and funded by local community organizations.  Institutions of civil society can, should be, and are providing these services.  For example, the Lansing Area Parents Respite Center has compiled a guide listing numerous private and public providers of such services, and they are not the only group to do so.  Savings: $1,165,800.

Program:                Highway safety projects

Appropriation:

All from Federal Funds:

$1,837,200

 

Total:

$1,837,200[18]

Program Description:

This appropriation funds state police and highway department efforts that develop and distribute pamphlets, brochures, videos, and public service announcements promoting highway safety and substance abuse prevention.

Recommended Action:

This program should be eliminated.  The state already mandates a level of safe driving skills to obtain a license to operate automobiles.  In addition, individuals already have an incentive to drive safely — their own health and welfare and that of their respective families.

Further, theories of risk perception suggest that people act based on their subjective perception of the risks of a given action rather than objectively stated odds. Thus, official efforts to reduce risk in one area, such as requiring seat belt usage or reducing the speed limit are usually overwhelmed by personal choices that increase risk in other areas, such as paying less attention in city traffic. An official campaign to reduce fatalities through mandatory seatbelt laws in Britain resulted in fewer automobile deaths, but was shown to have increased pedestrian deaths. [19]

The mileage death rate, which calculates deaths per 100 million vehicle miles, was 1.7 in 1991, decreased to 1.5 in 1992, rose to 1.8 by 1995, and then trended down so that for 1989, 1999, and 2000 — the last year for which data are available — the number declined to 1.5.  Total vehicle miles traveled grew from 81.9 billion miles in 1991 to 94.9 billion miles in 2000. [20]

Of course, families and friends have powerful emotional and social incentives to reinforce good driving habits among their associates, and insurance companies have strong financial incentives to promote safe driving habits among the insured. These civil society incentives should suffice.  Savings: $1,837,200.