"Recently the Mackinac Center using this kind of flawed logic took Governor Granholm to task for saying that Michigan didn't want to become Mississippi. Mississippi is the poorest state in the country, with high poverty rates and low education attainment. The Governor is right. Who wants to be like them? What an awful vision for Michigan: one of the poorest states in the country." Lou Glazer
Lou Glazer heads "Michigan Future," an organization that lobbies for transferring more wealth from Michigan businesses and families to this state's higher education establishment.
Michigan Future's main tool is making spurious "snapshot" comparisons of states in which it correlates higher resident tax burdens with the state being more prosperous, insinuating cause-and-effect between the two. What Michigan Future never looks at is trends — whether the condition of people in a high tax or low tax state is getting better or worse over time. They ignore trend data for a very good reason: It blows their argument out of the water. On several occassions the Mackinac Center has torpedoed Michigan Future's claims, but they continue to repeat them (perhaps cannily, since mainstream newspapers frequently continue to publish them.)
To illustrate the logical fallacy of Michigan Future's technique, it would be like saying back in 1995 that the Dallas-Fort Worth area should have adopted the same economic and tax policies as the Flint area, because personal incomes in the latter were higher then. Never mind the trends that saw the incomes of those Texans exceed incomes in and around Flint by 37 percent in 2007 ($39,009 vs. $28,700) according the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.
As Michigan Future notes, they are not the only defender of Michigan's public policy status quo who uses these "snapshot" comparisons. Indeed, last fall Gov. Jennifer Granholm dissed Mississippi, and on the pages of MichiganCapitolConfidential.com the Mackinac Center's Michael LaFaive responded with some pesky facts:
- In the last five years, Mississippi ranked 18th in the nation in per-capita personal income growth, while Michigan was dead last.
- Mississippi's state gross domestic product increased by 5 percent, while Michigan's fell 4 percent.
- Since 2003, unemployment rates also have been rising in Michigan and falling in Mississippi, not counting the current recession when joblessness has increased in both states. The unemployment rate trend lines crossed in March 2006; since then, Michigan's unemployment has been higher than Mississippi's.*
The ‘awful vision’ that troubles Michigan Future is already an awful reality for Michigan's middle class. Unless we restore Michigan as an inviting place for investment, business and raising a family, Mississippi will leave us in its economic dust.
* Note: A traditionally agricultural and poor state, Mississippi does suffer from stubborn poverty levels in a tier of very poor counties on the western end of the state. However, since 2005, Michigan's poverty rate increased by 9 percent while Mississippi's has been unchanged, and over the past 20 years, the trend has been toward less poverty in the Magnolia state.
Permission to reprint this blog post in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author (or authors) and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy are properly cited.