May 22 • 05:25 AM

Corporate greed led to downturn

August 29, 2007
Every day Michigan residents wake up to yet more bad news about disappearing jobs, corporate layoffs, home foreclosures and reports of thousands fleeing the state in pursuit of presumably greener pastures.

It's to the point where Michigan has been beaten to a bloody pulp by the national and local media—all of whom seem to find some perverse joy in celebrating the demise of our once prosperous state.

There is no escaping the harsh fact that the nation and rest of the world have turned the corner on Michigan's former economy, one which relied much too heavily and far too long on the auto industry.

There is also no doubt that our state's corporate heads and government leaders failed to see the writing on the wall a long time ago. Assuming that leaders are supposed to possess vision, one could assume that the state's predictable downturn was either overlooked or ignored.

There's probably plenty of blame to be spread around for the state's economic miseries, but what it generally comes down to is greed.

Let's face it, the people who were in power when things were good, are essentially the same people in power now.

Their biggest failure was to not respond more quickly to change and to not move expeditiously toward fresh ideas and new technologies.

The sickening truth is that somewhere along the line, a lot of people in the know dropped their respective balls. They were getting so wealthy that they allowed themselves to became greedy.

The same goes for union leaders and workers, who for years refused to budge on issues of pay and insurance when everyone else was having to make compromises.

All of these people made the conscious choice to maintain the status quo rather than adjust or change—at our state's peril.

With power and wealth, there comes an awesome responsibility to ensure that the rest of us are not left out of the equation.

In Michigan, that didn't happen. The powerbrokers clung to their old money (and old thinking) like a dog to a bone. They didn't much care what happened to us as long as they were still doing well themselves.

Now their greed has come back to bite them on the butts—just like that dog.

By deciding to ignore the changing seas and resisting the need to tap into new ideas and technology, they painted themselves and us into a proverbial corner. Now they, and we, are trying to find a way out.

Even if things were to change today, it will take time and patience to make the adjustments necessary to turn the state around.

For the old-timers and those set in their ways, it's going to be a tough row to hoe. But for the young and patient, Michigan's future will likely become bright again.

To be sure, everything is not bleak. Consider the state's abundant natural resources.

Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, among the world's largest supplies of fresh water. With that in mind, the state could well become the envy of every thirsty resident on the planet in the not-so-distant future.

The state offers thousands of acres of beautiful, highly desirable woodlands, waterways, lakes, hunting and game and resort areas, all of which could help lead a comeback in a new Michigan economy.

The state boasts world-class universities, excellent private colleges, museums, and a plethora of physical attractions. Add some outstanding college and professional sports teams to the mix, and you have the ingredients for future success.

It's time for everybody to stop beating up on this state and begin beating the drum for progress and renewal.

When everything else appears to be failing, a few optimistic voices and fresh ideas could go a long way toward getting us back on the right track.

Email Tom at

Staff Writer
Castle Creek
Milnes Ford
05 - 22 - 19
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