Unpublished - Submitted to the Holland Sentinel on September 13, 2006 and rejected by the publisher, Peter Esser, due to the implied endorsement of a political candidate
Are you better off than you were 4-6 years ago? Are your finances better off than they were 4-6 years ago? Are your friends better off than they were 4-6 years ago? Is it time for a change in the Governor's mansion? Is it time for a change in the U.S. Senate? You make the call.
The housing market here in Western Michigan has taken a serious blow. Due to Michigan's failing economy and faltering job situation, we are in what is known as a "buyer's market". Does that mean home buyers can get whatever they want at a great price? No! That just means we have a lot of houses on the market and a lot of upset and even depressed sellers.
As the active inventories reach new highs and the average 'days on market' continue to rise, Michigan's economy continues to decline. Michigan is taking the lead in a number of economic and demographic studies across this nation. Unfortunately, the categories in which we are leading are negative and the impact on local real estate sales is damaging.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Michigan's incomes have fallen 12% since 1999, earning our state the ominous distinction of 'Worst decline in the country'. For the first time in history, Michigan's household income fell below the national average. Is that why mortgage lenders are reaching record numbers in foreclosures?
Since January of 2001, Michigan has recorded a net loss of close to 200,000 jobs. We are the only state in the country to lose jobs for three years in a row over the past three years. From 2000-2005, Michigan led the charge among the seven Great Lakes states in manufacturing job losses with nearly 218,000 lost manufacturing jobs. How many of your friends 'had to' sell their home due to losing their jobs? How many of them 'had to' move out of state to find employment?
Analysts predict Michigan's unemployment rate for 2006 will average out at 6.7%, while the national average will hold at 4.7%. Among these figures include Michigan's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July of 2006 at 7%. Some of Michigan's major cities reported unemployment rates above 10% for the month of July. Why does Michigan continue to suffer, while the rest of the nation is either recovering or stable? Could it be a lack of effective leadership from Governor Granholm?
Did you know that Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin have effectively killed the bill that would have provided affordable health insurance plans for Michigan’s small business owners? SB 1955 was designed to help thousands of Michiganders without health insurance. Levin and Stabenow had the Michigan lobby pretty much believing they were supportive of Small Business Health Care Bill 1955. Unfortunately for many, they torpedoed the legislation.
When you get a chance, ask a small store owner how they are doing when it comes to health insurance. Ask a contractor how expensive their health coverage is. Ask a real estate agent what they have to go through to get health insurance. Ask any small business owner about their costs for prescription drugs. The answers should have you asking Stabenow and Levin, "Why?"
I don't know about you, but I am tired of hearing empty promises and seeing substandard results from our leaders in Lansing and Washington. Will Michigan home owners continue to suffer if we don't get some new leadership in Lansing? Will small business owners continue to struggle if we don't get some new leadership in the U.S. Senate? You make the call. Once you make the call, encourage your friends and neighbors to vote for a better Michigan on November 7th.