Michigan--The one state recession where liberalism failed
Nancy Paul doesn't need a Census Bureau report to know poverty is rising in Michigan. She sees it in the moms and children who show up at her small nonprofit agency seeking free back-to-school clothes. She hears it in their plaintive requests for cereal or soap or assistance with utility bills. And she feels it in the strain of keeping the food pantry stocked.Michigan is an example of the failure of the policies that Obama is pushing. It has been a high tax big government state. It raised taxes as things were getting bad and made them worse. Its union members were too greedy and made the industry uncompetitive. The medical benefits to retired autoworkers add over $1000 to the price of GM vehicles.
And she sees more of it.
According to the Census Bureau, Michigan was the only state that experienced an increase in its poverty rate last year. It was also the only state where the median family income declined in 2007, thanks to an economy that is almost as rusty and untuned as a 20-year-old Chevy.
Michigan's poverty rate of 14 percent is high for a state than once prided itself on high-wage union jobs and well-tended middle-class neighborhoods. But the poverty rate has inched up every year since 2000, when it was 9.7 percent. Now one-third of the residents of three cities -- Detroit, Flint and Kalamazoo, live in poverty. Poverty and its sister, unemployment, have overstayed their welcome in those cities and moved into even well-heeled suburbs such as Chelsea, about 65 miles west of Detroit.
Poverty "tends to be more invisible here," said Chelsea Mayor Ann Feeney, who noted that some people "find it undignified to ask for help." But some do ask, for more time to pay their taxes or for assistance from Faith in Action, Paul's nonprofit group.
"They come in and ask, 'Could I just have some laundry detergent and some diapers? And I have no toilet paper in the house,' " she said. "We've started running lower in food" through the summer months since families with children can no longer depend on free or reduced-price school lunches.
In Michigan, 1.4 million people live at or below the federal poverty level, which for a family of four means income of around $21,200 and for an individual under 65, just $10,800. In Washtenaw County, which includes Chelsea and Ann Arbor, the poverty rate of 12.7 percent last year was about even with the national rate of 12.5 percent.
"Throughout the last six or seven years, Michigan has done worse economically than the United States, going from unemployment rates that were below the national average to unemployment rates which are among the highest in the nation," said Sheldon Danziger, director of the University of Michigan's National Poverty Center.
In fact, Michigan's 8.5 percent jobless rate is the nation's highest and is nearly twice as high as the 4.4 percent rate shared by Maryland and Virginia. Finding a job, especially one with a good wage, can be difficult.
It is a state that has prospered when Republicans have been in the governor's mansion and has gone into decline when liberal Democrats are there. It is a preview of where Obama would take us.
The contrast with Texas is striking. Texas is a low tax state that has created half the jobs in this country in the last year. It is no accident that Toyota built a big facility in San Antonio instead of Detroit.