The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Michigan’s Bold iPod Plan

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Michigan’s budget deficit recently surpassed the $1 billion dollar mark.  With tax revenues being steady, the only conceivable reason for the budget deficit is out-of-control spending.  On April 5, Michigan House Democrats issued an education plan that would purchase an MP3 Player or iPod for every Michigan public school child. 

The Democrats in the Michigan House of Representatives have no limits.  They possess a worse conception of money than do most teenagers.  A few million here, a few million there, and soon spending spirals out of control.  House Speaker Andy Dillon continues to add other pet projects, including money for urban blight control throughout the state.  Speaker Dillon advocates for other programs including paying for portions of major medical expenses for all Michigan residents as well as parts of retiree health care.

The only way to pay for these programs is to raise taxes.  Detroit Representative Steve Tobocman advocates a six percent tax levy on unnecessary items such as junk food and soda.  Why should junk food be taxed just because a state representative feels it is unnecessary?  Speaker Dillon's tax plan calls for taxes on companies who do business in Michigan that don't operate plants.  Of course, this will result in more businesses leaving Michigan thus increasing unemployment and poverty.

The Republicans, however, are also at fault for allowing these problems to occur.  The Republican Majority Leader of the Michigan House, Mike Bishop, acknowledges he may compromise on a proposed tax hike to pay for these programs.  If Rep. Bishop followed the principles of his party, he should know not to increase taxes to pay for frivolous programs.  No studies have shown that free iPod's and MP3 Players increase a student's ability to learn.  No one in Michigan has estimated the cost of providing these items to public schoolchildren.  The cheapest MP3 Player or iPod runs at least one hundred dollars; even with a large group discount, it will be an unnecessary, costly expenditure.

For the past twenty five years, Michigan's economy has seen the closing of many manufacturing facilities.  The result has been urban blight, unemployment, and poverty.  Raising taxes on businesses and consumer goods will only infuriate people further and force more businesses out of Michigan.  The current problem is not tax revenue, but rather excessive government spending.  Giving free iPod's to Michigan public schoolchildren is a prime example of government waste, and must be avoided.  Perhaps it is time to avoid these unnecessary programs and ease the tax burden on Michigan residents.

-- Seth Weinstein

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