Forced charity hits a nerve

Just so you know, you may soon start seeing a $1 per month surcharge on your electricity bill.
Jul 12, 2013


Your dollar will be funneled into a fund that subsidizes heating bills for those in the state who can’t afford to pay their own tabs. It will raise up to $50 million per year from electric customers statewide.

The bill that allows for this new surcharge was approved 86-21 in the House and 34-4 in the Senate. It was signed into law earlier this month by Gov. Rick Snyder.

When Snyder signed the measure, he told news reporters that it would “provide a long-term solution to help Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens with their home energy and heating needs.”

That sure sounds like a nice sentiment, but since when is it OK to force charitable giving on utility customers who might or might not struggle in their own right to pay for the electricity they personally use?

Commenters on the Michigan Votes website had this to say about the measure:

• “Redistributing the wealth! Total socialism. I wish to choose what charities I contribute to and how much. Not have a mandate from the government.”
• “I already donate to needy causes. All the surcharges that the state wants are BS. I make just over $20,000 a year and am being bled dry by the people in Lansing after insurance, gas tax and other surcharges.”
• “I don’t know about anyone else, but you guys have already drained me dry. I am not rich, but I am not considered to be low income, either. I am disabled and have already had so much taken from me.”
• “I’m trying to raise my kids and the State of Michigan is just making me want to move!”

We find it hard to disagree with these sentiments.

Instead of zapping people with yet another fee or surcharge, why not ask customers if they’d like to have their bills rounded up to the next dollar? Why not ask customers if they would like to donate?

Surely this would generate support from those who choose to help charitable causes, and allow an opt-out option for those who might not have extra money available to give.

As this bill sped through the Legislature, it may be that many people didn’t know about it. But we do now.

Call your local legislator and make your opinion known. It is never too late to question authority.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.




You are almost correct. I was distracted by the fact that MM's proctologist could successfully remove his prefrontal cortex and tie it behind his back.


What is with you and your fixation with proctological pathology?


Just trying to understand progressives in general and MM in particular - a dirty job but someone has to do it - maybe after amnesty it will be anal-yzed in Mexican.


Ready for identification of "specious claim."
Ready for the "fact-based" refutation - any time now.


Mike, I get a good laugh out of your posts. Those of us who believe that they are above it all squeak with most fervor and pompous language. Please wear your name tag when in the room.


Don't need no stinkin name tag:


I bet you'd wear a kilt if you had legs like that....


Vlad - you are brilliant! You are showing us what poor choices are made by those who receive home heating subsidies....they're so comfortable (temperature-wise) they indulge themselves by going trouser-less.....


Self-esteem issues, dancingliberal?


Just honest commentary Lanny, don't worry your probably not loosing one of your flock.

I do appreciate it when a liberal can stand alone. I also find it refreshing a liberal can identify themselves as one. Most run from the tag for some reason!


Honest commentary, my but. You and yours embrace mocking, poking, digging, mucking on anything but the issues. MM brings up valid, intrinsically pertinent issues, written in language far superior to most anything you would read anywhere - and what kind of response does he get? Derision, ridicule, jeering, and, of course, Vlad.

To reduce this argument into some vapid statement regarding liberals shows a callous lack of understanding and nuance.

I bet you would even mock this 3 minutes of pure perfection...


Mystic - as to your last paragraph. May I offer a suggestion? Don't think of this as an opportunity to "win". You will not change Vlad's mind or method, no matter how rational, how educated, how erudite you are - and, of course, you are all those things. But you might change the mind of someone else.....and you surely make things more interesting! What would Vlad do without your mind power to challenge him?


Still waiting .... but, Crickets.


Geez O Pete, I leave you guys for an evening of chatter and when I check this morning expecting deep articulate conversation I find name tags, and guys in dresses! I really gotta start running with a better internet crowd!!

Maybe a new question is needed Vlad as your last cannot be answered by the left/centrist.

Any who, the thread being forced charity, why is it now appropriate or necessary to have this "giving"? Try to answer without political talking points.


Does this mean the dinner date is off? I'll bet you were studying the map last night to find out where Libya is.

Frankly, I'm stunned our current State legislature proposed a law that benefits the needy. Guilty conscience? Maybe the sermon at their church service spoke to this scripture:

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
"For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
"I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
""They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
""He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
""Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Our Republican House on the Hill has apparently forgotten their catechism lessons. In the latest Farm Bill, they voted to maintain farm subsidies at a HIGHER level than proposed by either the Senate or White House while completely eliminating food stamps, the first time since 1973. Hmmm - would this be because many of the House Reps own Big Farms and personally receive millions in yearly farm subsidies?

Sure, SNAP usage has gone up. So did the U6, a measure of unemployment, underemployment, and those giving up the fight. The U6 was at 8% pre-Bush Recession, 17% in early 2010.

The Republican House, with sociopathological deliberation, closed the door on millions of American citizens receiving an average of $134/month SNAP payment, 1/2 of whom are non-Hispanic whites, many of whom are working full-time, but making so little in low-wage, zero benefit jobs (the kind Sam Walton, one of the richest men in the world, offers) that they still need SNAP benefits to make ends meet.

Wal-Mart employees, alone, rely on about $2.6 Billion in government support. Nobody said good, ole Sam wasn't a clever one.

And some people bellyache over paying a buck a month to help the poor stay warm.


It only took until your second paragraph to dive into a response that was all talking point. Guess that is what I would expect from a centrist!

So with that I'll give you my conservative tongue lashing.

The answer is no one that is truly needy goes hungry in this country. You and your lib friends just like to play on emotions and present yourself as all caring. Then when all the lib stupid hand out programs that are created for votes cannot be sustained, you try to shame those that are working there a$$ off into going along with this BS. Those that are truly just scrapping by throw their hands up and jump on the freebie express, adding to the already unsustainable programs.

We should be handing out jobs, skills, and personal management mentoring not free stuff and money. Social engineering is destroying not only the work ethics of the country but the morals.

Libs disgused me. They are taking advantage of the down and out for their vote and destroy the very system that from within that has made them the rich poor if the world.

So excuse me from your dinner summit as your right it would probably end coming to verbal blows as I can only stand so much "nuance"

I'm not lock step with the Republicans on everything but the are a lot closer to truly empowering the people then the Democrats!


You win! It took only the first six words of your comment before my eyes began to roll. This means you get to buy the drinks....calm down - just kidding!!

No one who is truly needy goes hungry in this country because the programs for the needy work. But why, in the richest country in the world, should people find themselves working but still not making enough to feed their families? Why, in the richest country in the world, should social safety net programs be considered unsustainable, or de-funded entirely, as the House just voted to do?

It's the lack of balance that is shameful, Wing. For the first time in 40 years, the food stamp program was voted out. But the BILLIONS in farm subsidies was increased, much of it as payments to farmers to not plant crops. I'm not in any way putting down the small farmer, as you know I come from a farm background, and it is very, very hard work.

I do agree with your opinion about jobs, skills, and personal management mentoring. Again, balance is the key. Isn't this the philosophy behind welfare, food stamps, free phones - to help people get on their feet, recover from setbacks, be able to compete in the job market?

I just wish you'd show more righteous indignation towards the corporations out there who take advantage of government safety nets, making unprecedented profits while paying their employees an unsustainable low wage and no benefits, relying on government to take up the slack. Certainly this is immoral and destroys the work ethic of many citizens. Of course, this kind of analysis takes nuance, and it's so much easier to just lump everybody together as 'disgusting (disguised? - no, I'm not going there again) liberals'.

BTW, FYI, all my work over the years was based on my making it happen. If I didn't make stuff happen, I didn't get a paycheck. And in terms of job creation and skill development, I've done my fair share.


"When a government becomes powerful it is destructive, extravagant and violent; it is an usurer which takes bread from innocent mouths and deprives honorable men of their substance, for votes with which to perpetuate itself." --Roman philosopher and statesman Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

Less government Lan.

You are talking all around it but won't admit it. We need less government, not more. You want me to attack business, corporations because they take advantage of big government and the subsides! Let's just get to the root of the problem shall we!

This is why it is fruitless to even debate this as you seem to be so blinded by the socialist model of government you cannot see the forest thru the trees!


You're getting closer, Wing. Of course, we need less government. But it's a balance! Civilization can not survive without government. Government should stay lean, smart, and geared to the people that elect them. Not bloated with corporate welfare, influenced by billions of campaign money, lobbyist money, Big Business money - all the entities that have been given carte blanche with Citizens United. Government should not enter into wars based on lies, steer tax laws towards the benefit of corporate profit and to the detriment of the middle class, or under-regulate, or deregulate business at the expense of citizens.

The role of government is to provide an environment of economic health and steady growth, where citizens have opportunities.

I have never, in any comment, said I think government needs to be bigger. Putting me into this paradigm just might be your way of compartmentalizing the differences between our two arguments...?

Tri-cities realist

MM, you are referring to yourself, correct? I agree you should stop with the bloviating misinformation.

Tri-cities realist

I can't decide whether the authors of Obamacare were completely inept, or that they purposefully put together the most convoluted plan that would solve nothing, leading to a future "single payer" system (read socialized medicine, complete with that fun concept of rationing) to "solve" the problem they made worse. Either way, they scare the you know what out of me.


So you're one of those who thinks access to basic health care is a benefit to be earned, not a right. If you can't afford it, you don't need it. And you advocate for the socialist, free-rider system in this country - we pay indirectly for the billions in health care costs for the uninsured who have no other option for preventative health care but to go to the ER for a sore throat. In Michigan alone, hospitals have over $33 million a year in medical costs from treating the uninsured.

You might be interested to know that the author of Obamacare was the conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, back in 1989. Obamacare was then used successfully in Massachusetts by then-Gov Romney (Romneycare). Better start getting the facts before you start "bloviating".

Tri-cities realist

I know all about romneycare, and understand the facts, thanks for the history lesson. Health care is not a right, I see no mention of it in the Constitution. Now if you don't like that fact, the proper thing to do is amend the Constitution, or if you can't amend it, then follow it. And by that I mean enact legislation at the state level, since all rights not enumerated in the Constitution are reserved for the states. Now guess what? That is exactly what Romney did in Mass. I may not agree with the Mass. legislation, but at least it was enacted in a Constitutional manner, THAT I can respect.

Now, back to access for basic health care. Excuse me, what is Medicaid then?

And no, I don't advocate for the "socialist, free-rider system in this country", please don't put words onto my screen (into my mouth).


The poverty structure has changed a great deal in this country in the last 7-8 years, and the reality is that there is an ever-widening strata of people in our society who are the Working Poor. They work hard, maybe 2-3 jobs, just enough to disqualify themselves for Medicaid, but not enough to be able to support their families, and certainly not enough to afford health insurance. So what if the parents get sick and lose everything - maybe then they will qualify for Medicaid! So what if the kid has asthma and has to go to the ER every other month because the parents can't afford a steady supply of inhalers?

I'm not trying to put words into your mouth so much as put some different, more pertinent ideas into your mind. The health care system we now enjoy in this country is broken, is now the largest share of the US budget pie, and is socialist, to boot. The spreading of the health care costs of the free-rider uninsured (thanks to Ronald Reagan, while we're talking about former presidents) among those who do have health insurance is quite socialist.

Tri-cities realist

So if Medicaid needed to be tweaked to cover those who do not qualify for it, but don't have other insurance, why not go that route, instead of affecting the entire health care industry? Obamacare is tantamount to admitting that yet another govt program (medicaid) has been ineffective at solving the problem it was supposed to. That is the problem with govt programs, when it is determined they have failed, another govt program is enacted, supposedly to fix the problems the previous one couldn't fix. And so the cycle repeats.

As for the working poor, some of them are hard working, budget only for the necessities, and still can't afford insurance. I have no problem helping them temporarily, until they can get a better job, raise, etc. However, a great number of the working poor drive nicer cars than I do (mine was made in the last millennium), have bigger Tv's, nicer smart phones and unlimited data plans, cable or satellite tv, boats, RV's, go out to eat, etc. So when they say they can't "afford" health insurance, I have zero sympathy. They CAN afford it, they just choose to spend their money on other things. And that is their right, I don't intend to take that away from them. Likewise, they shouldn't EXPECT me to pay for their poor choices.

Yep, big bad Ronny was such a mean guy.


TCR - you might be interested in this -

Tri-cities realist

So Obamacare will reduce rates in the most expensive state for health care by increasing individual enrollment from 17,000 to an estimated 615,000. Wow what an accomplishment, that is what happens when you spread the risk of the sick onto the healthy through fiat. No rocket science there.

And if there are 2.6 million uninsured in NY, what about the other 2 million? I thought Obamacare would make sure that everyone had coverage. I am outraged at the callousness of our president to ignore these 2 million people.

But reading further "The least expensive plans, some offered by newcomers to the market, may not offer wide access to hospitals and doctors, experts said." What? Obamacare is not going to be a panacea? I'm so surprised.

And now for the kicker, I'm sure you inadvertently overlooked this whopper.

Thanks for making this so easy, I now recall why I like it here so much.


First of all, a crash refresher course. If you are interested in debating with me, don't use highly subjective, biased links, such as this from the Cato Institute. I have neither the time, energy, or desire to read such gobbleygoop. Save it for the boys. I find these articles that pick and poke Obamacare, essentially a clone of the highly conservative mother of all think tanks, the Heritage Foundation, to be embarrassing, desperate, silly, and illusive.

A word to the wise - don't count your chickens until their hatched (remembering the last election...).

Tri-cities realist

I recall singing the Mollum privacy policy (whoever that is) when joining here. I don't recall signing the "Lanivan one sided debating policy". So let me understand this, you can cite any left wing article, but I can't respond with a counter argument from a conservative one. That is so fair and open minded of you! So if you choose not to respond, that is your decision, I will not be bullied by you here. Oh the irony.

And I could cite a hundred links that show CA was fudging the numbers, but I will save my time, after all ignorance is bliss, enjoy!


Sorry to intrude, but some additional facts may be useful.

Basically, New York state did exactly what economists say you shouldn't do: Encourage people to wait to buy insurance until they're sick and need coverage. The forecasts of cost savings are based on the assumption that the Affordable Care Act's requirement that people buy insurance will actually force those young, healthy people to pay in instead of waiting until they're sick or injured.

Except...As Peter Suderman has pointed out, even the maximum fine of $695 for going uninsured under Obamacare is far less than the cost of the cheapest plan. That math is easy enough to grasp that many young people are likely to continue to do what New Yorkers have been doing, and go without coverage until they're in need of care. Tim Clifford, president of ADP Benefits & Talent Management Services, told CNBC that the fine under Obamacare "is probably not enough to change behavior."

Which means those "lower rates" in New York will probably prove to be illusory." A link in the article provides a nexus to Romneycare, FYI.

"Illusory" is a great word to describe much of Obama's policies and accomplishments - I wish I had thought of it myself.



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