Brian Dickerson has a good piece in the Detroit Free Press today on the Republican agenda in Michigan and how it could be driving young, educated workers from our state. It’s essentially a continuation of the much-talked-about “Michissippi” article by Edward McClelland that ran in Salon last week. In that piece, as you’ll recall, McClelland speculated that, as a result of this most recent wave of Republican legislation, we’d lose even more of our bright, young college grads to Chicago. “Michigan has lost so many educated workers that the state’s leadership seems to feel it has no choice but to become a low-wage haven,” said McClelland. “The kind of place that attracts chicken processors, not software engineers.” And, on Friday, Governor Snyder sat down with Detroit Free Press reporters to discuss, among other things, whether this concern is justified. [spoiler alert: Snyder says that young people don't care that he recently signed right-to-work legislation into being, and that it's too early to speculate as to what the reaction might be to the other legislation which emerged from last week's lame duck session, as it's possible that he may exercise his veto on some of the more contentious bills.] Here’s video of Snyder being interviewed, followed by a clip from Dickerson’s article.
…But what do the newly minted college graduates so critical to Snyder’s vision see when they look at today’s Michigan?
If they’re reading the governor’s own website, they see a state that “has the 12th-friendliest tax system in America” and is “encouraging long-term, sustainable economic growth in rural areas by enacting a simple, fair and efficient severance tax for mining operations.”
(No, seriously: I’m quoting verbatim from the Friday press release in which the governor congratulated state legislators on the completion of their lame-duck session.)
But if young people are looking elsewhere — to newspaper websites, for instance, or cable news, or late-night TV comedians like John Stewart and Stephen Colbert, both wildly popular with the 18-30 audience — they see a different Michigan.
The Great Lakes State being ridiculed on the Daily Show and CNN is a insular, backward-looking place, suspicious of newcomers and new ideas — a state whose elected officials are busily erecting new obstacles to contraception, same-sex marriage and voting, and new opportunities for people who open for-profit prisons, hunt wolves or pack heat in church.
Really, lawmakers, is there something you’re not doing to make young college graduates feel unwelcome? How about raising the age of consent to 35, or booking Lawrence Welk tribute bands at the Palace?
In an hour-long conversation with the Free Press editorial board Friday afternoon, the governor appeared confident that the bills he’s signed into law to placate less-evolved Republicans simply don’t resonate the way his own initiatives do…
I have an idea that I think could help increase awareness as to what’s going on right now in Michigan, and, at the same time, put a little more pressure on Snyder. What if, right on the other side of each of our borders with other states, right alongside the highway, we set up refugee centers for people fleeing the extremist regime of Michigan? Can you imagine driving by a field of tents and large signs reading, “The people of Ohio welcome the young, college-educated workers of Michigan who are seeking to escape the sexist, homophobic, anti-intellectual forces currently controlling the Mitten State”… That, I think, would send one hell of a message.