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Michigan's Humpty Dumpty economic policy

• Jun 20, 2017 at 5:00 PM

John C. Mozena conjures up George Orwell and Humpty Dumpty in describing Michigan’s economic policy in a recent post on the Mackinac Center for Public Policy blog.

“If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better,” Orwell wrote in “Politics and the English Language.” Orwell is perhaps most famous for a later work, “1984,” where he coined “doublespeak.

“Our state Legislature is considering even more ways for the people who run government to pick which businesses get free money,” Mozena wrote. “These are largely reheated versions of failed programs, dressed up in new language.”

According to Mozena, government “economic development” schemes aren’t held accountable for developing the economy.

“That’s because they can’t,” he explains. “The resources in play are overwhelmed by every other economic factor in the real world. In a state of 10 million people with a $468 billion GDP, Michigan’s programs in this space are roughly 1/1000th of the economy and their impact on it is proportionally insignificant.”

For instance:

“’Refundable tax credits’ can dwarf a company’s actual tax bill, meaning the company cashes a large check from the state. It’s a way of disguising a cash handout through the tax code, since the money never shows up as an appropriations line item,” Mozena wrote.

And the Michigan Economic Growth Authority “had no authority over economic growth in Michigan. Instead, it awarded refundable tax credits (see above) to select businesses. Even though the MEGA program is gone, it will still cost taxpayers $660 million this year.”

Want more? Read the complete blog post: “George Orwell and Humpty Dumpty Economic Policy.”

John Mozena is vice president for marketing and communications for the Mackinac Center.

The opinions expressed by bloggers are not necessarily shared by the Grand Haven Tribune or its employees. They are the sole opinion of the bloggers, who are not employed by or compensated by the Tribune.

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