Michigan in the Tank: Close Parks for the Rescue?
October 29, 2007
It's so embarrassing what the credentialed experts spout in the media about the current disaster in our fair state.
Michigan is at the bottom in the national economy. But do we really need X number of people here in the first place? It's sad to lose jobs---if they were good ones---but our main goal is to make sure that whoever lives here is treated right and can live decently, even if only a handful are left.
What is decent living? First, how our parents lived in the 50's is fine living. A sparsely furnished tiny house and a tiny car can be the basis for a booming civilization. No harm there.
But back to the media and the pundits on all aisles, from all hallways. They say that without more gov't money we'll have to close parks and lay off game wardens.
Never a word is mentioned by expert or by reporter about the other obvious options.
How much money could be saved if state congressmen and employees got pay-cuts, pension reductions and switched to high-deductible health care?
The latest whine was that the parks weren't making enough license income to pay their way so they'll have to close.
The last time I visited the natural resources building downtown it was like The Office only 10X more so. Floors of cubicles of nothing happening. Everyone there in the steaming place was costing the state a total of $100K annually in pay, pension and health. What should be cut first in a park district----the park itself or the backstage managers?
My impression of Michigan gov't is that the function actually performed on the ground is the cheapest thing. There's an inverse pyramid of spending behind a groundskeeper and his shovel.
I've always thought that we could keep revenues steady and stop all actual work on the ground and our state would promptly go broke. Due to the blooming overhead of staff.
Instead both experts and media alike take the cheap shot and say the park is the first thing that'll have to go.
It's sad that the media can't dig past the first step. They need the experts to feed them press releases. If a reporter wanted to actually do journalism wouldn't they just check the budget to see where the money actually goes?
But of course a wise bureaucrat shifts his expenses to work on the ground. But a wiser-yet reporter (?) would look at actual hours of operation and pay-rates to determine actual costs of something like a park. A park doesn't actually need more than a modicum of oversight by management in addition to its on-site staff.
It reminds me of our education set-up. It's in bad shape, of course. Fewer students. Empty school buildings. So what we've done is take a complete school building in each district and fill it full of, not students, but administrators! We have a whole complete, fully-staffed level of admin called the Intermediate School District in our ed system that has no relation to kids. They develop district curriculum and host conferences. Teachers and principals and school board and superintendent can't take care of themselves these days. What could be saved if that whole level was chopped? What would happen in the schools if that happened? If there has to be belt-tightening, what should be cut first? Art and music in the class---like what has happened? Or the cost of the typical $200K+ complete package cost per person in the ISD?
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