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My family has deep roots in Michigan, from the frigid locks of Sault Ste. Marie to the college-town ambience of Kalamazoo. But ultimately, my parents left Michigan and eventually the Midwest in search of jobs. Jobs found in the “right-to-work” state of Arizona.
After decades away, I drove the length of Michigan a few years back, south to north and back again. Though I was stunned at the blue lakes and green trees (just the right height!), I too was stunned at the stagnation and decay. The Great Lakes State deserves a great economy and going right-to-work is a great way to get there.
For many Michiganders on the margins, their economy remains in critical condition. After years hemorrhaging jobs, money and residents under liberal leadership, Michigan's blue-state electorate sent conservatives to the Governor's office and statehouse. The new team’s first job was to stanch the bleeding. They reinvigorated the state's economy by lowering and simplifying business taxes and eliminating a $1.5 billion deficit.
Unfortunately, like much of the nation, the patient still suffers from the infection of high unemployment. A proven treatment to eliminate this condition is to convert the state to a right-to-work model.
Right-to-work simply means that a worker won't be fired simply because he or she chooses not to join a union. A non-controversial proposition on its face, but one that could drastically reduce the funds in union leaders' bank accounts. And the funds to promote left-leaning political issues and candidates.
Cue the outrage in the state capital of Lansing.
Instead of heralding greater freedom for workers and economic growth for all Michiganders, many union activists acted as they often do — with rage, spittle and violence. Democratic politicians screamed, “there will be blood!” And blood there was, as angry union supporters tore down a conservative group’s tent, punched those with whom they disagreed, and issued furious threats, all reminiscent of the recent union tantrums in Madison, Wisconsin.
In fact, the Lansing protests seem even more furious — probably because they know how Wisconsin turned out.
The labor movement status quo has been very profitable for a small group of powerful union leaders, well-connected politicians and a few non-effective employees who, frankly, need union protection to keep their jobs. But this status quo has ravaged the rest of their fellow citizens.
High unemployment is an infection continuing to harm the economic health of Michigan. State leaders have wisely chosen freedom over an outdated, illogical policy that serves only to increase the state’s economic woes. Lancing that unemployment boil will help Michigan return to full economic health and not a moment too soon.
Follow me on Twitter at @ExJon.