The letter below was sent to Gov. Jennifer Granholm, and shared with us, by a Mackinac Center supporter who owns one of Michigan’s thousands of small businesses. The writer eloquently responds to the state’s offer to provide “free” assistance through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a multimillion-dollar agency the Mackinac Center has recommended for elimination.

May 15, 2003

Hon. Jennifer Granholm
State of Michigan
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, MI 48909

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Dear Governor Granholm:

Thank you for your letter of April 22, offering to help my company.

However, I would like to suggest a different and more productive policy course for state government if you really want to help businesses start up, relocate, or expand in Michigan. Rather than position the state, through its Michigan Economic Development Corporation, as a nanny that will bestow attention and benefits on us, why not adopt the more proven policy of “a fair field and no favors”? That means reducing the burdens and intrusions of government across the board for all businesses, and getting state government to do its core responsibilities at the lowest possible cost.

In the late 1990s, a Democratic president ended the federal entitlement to welfare because overwhelming evidence showed that reliance upon the dole had produced intergenerational dependency, sapped the entrepreneurial energy of millions of individuals, and broke families into pieces. If welfare reform (getting people off the rolls) was good for individuals, why is putting companies on the dole somehow good for business? You could be America’s first governor who applies welfare reform to companies, and I for one would be delighted to know that state government is minding its own business instead of mine. As Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “If I knew for certain that a man (in this case, the MEDC) was coming to my home to do me good, I would run for my life.”

Michigan is the fourth worst state for abuse of eminent domain laws. Its labor law, skewed as it is toward special favors for organized labor, is a huge detriment to business growth. Our tax burden is still above the national average. Hundreds of thousands of Michigan children are trapped in poorly-performing, monopolistic government schools. On and on. I wish state government would fix these problems, largely of its own making, before it attempts to fix mine.

I call your attention to a recent report from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Recommendations to Strengthen Civil Society and Balance Michigan’s State Budget.” It offers ways to save more money than you need to solve the state’s deficit, without raising anybody’s taxes. A 2002 report from the Mackinac Center, “Keeping Michigan on Track” proposes no fewer than 77 policy ideas that would make Michigan a Mecca for business. If your office does not have copies of these reports, please contact the Mackinac Center in Midland, at 989-631-0900.

Thanks for giving these thoughts your careful consideration.


(Author’s name withheld by request)