The state of Michigan took out an incredibly-costly full-page ad in today’s Wall Street Journal, proudly announcing to the world not only that we’ve officially joined the likes of Alabama and Mississippi in becoming a so-called “right-to-work” state, but that we’ve finally put the embarrassing pro-labor legacy of the The Battle of the Overpass behind us. We want the CEOs of American to know that we have, in the words of the Snyder administration, orchestrated “the perfect storm.” We’ve broken the back of organized labor. We’ve slashed taxes. And we’ve laid the groundwork to roll back regulations. And, now, it’s time for us to reap the rewards. And, by “us,” I mean the 1% of Americans that benefit from such policies, not necessarily the people of Michigan… “Bring us your coal-powered hog-rendering facilities, and your toxic chemical plants.” That’s what we’re essentially declaring to the world. Like it or not, this is who we now are. This is “Pure Michigan.” We’re no longer the state of majestic sand dunes and pristine lake shores. We’re no longer the cradle of the American middle class. We’re now a cheap-labor state, hellbent on winning our nation’s race to the bottom.
An unintended loser in all of this, I’m sorry to say, is Michigan’s hospitality industry. The incredibly popular Pure Michigan campaign is one of the few things that our struggling state has going for it, and, by running this ad, I think the Snyder administration has put it in jeopardy. Who in their right mind would take a campaign which, for several years, has endeavored to make the world aware of Michigan’s pristine environmental assets, and decide not only to politicize it in this fashion, but to actually incorporate the fact that we’ve begun down the path of environmental deregulation? Who does that? And, more importantly, who uses the phrase “perfect storm” in an ad campaign that’s trying to convey a sense of confidence about a region? I’ve actually read The Perfect Storm. It’s a book about a desperate fishing boat Captain, who, in hopes of making a big financial score, heads his ship into a colossal storm front in search of an elusive school of swordfish, putting the lives of his crew on the line. And, guess what? There were no survivors! The irony of the Snyder administration referencing it, given what they’ve done to jeopardize the future of our state over the course of the past several months, I think, is hilarious.
[Special thanks to Brandon Zwagerman for responding to my late night bat signal with a scan of the Wall Street Journal, and to MM.com reader Curt Waugh for contributing the Perfect Storm photo.]
update: It gets even more hilarious. While strutting on the national stage and broadcasting to the world that we’re now a right-to-work state, the Republicans in Lansing are simultaneously saying that we need to put all of this behind us and move on. “I want to see the Legislature turn the page,” Speaker of the Michigan House Jase Bolger told The Detroit News. “I want to see us go forward and focus on the people we serve instead of focusing on party politics.”