ERROL PUTMAN: Michiganians/Michiganders

To the editor:

When Jim Blanchard, John Engler, and Jennifer Granholm were governors of Michigan, they called us “Michiganians.” Then along came Rick Snyder and all of a sudden we are “Michiganders.”

For a long time I thought the Governor was trying to demonstrate his departure from past administrations. Over time, however, I’ve come to believe his motives were something more sinister; something having to do with his perception of the people of Michigan.

The fact is the word “Michigander” was born of a political issue. On one side, there was Abe Lincoln, a formidable opponent of the spread of slavery into the territories and on the other was Michigan’s long time governor, Lewis Cass, who opposed taking a strong stand on the dispute, believing the issue of slavery should be left to the people.

Because of Lincoln’s unfaltering belief, he referred to Cass and his indecisiveness as “wandering aimlessly as a goose” and combined the first part of “Michigan” with the slur to come up with the uncomplimentary “Michigander.”

Even today we have “Ganders” among us. On the one hand, we have legislators afraid to make the hard choices and dump the decision-making onto the laps of their constituents via the ballot box. And on the other hand, there are the John Q Public “Ganders” who wander “aimlessly as a goose” and are easily persuaded to vote for most anything.

For example, after complaining of the $1.7 Billion in tax breaks for corporate Michigan provided by the Snyder administration, “Ganders” subsequently marched in lock-step to the polls and voted for a ballot proposal that provided even more tax breaks for business.

Thus, bringing us to the present . . . and . . . OMG: It’s déjà vu all over again! We have before us a classic case where our highly paid lawmakers can’t make a decision—again—and what do they do?

They are asking voters to go to the polls this May to increase the sales tax on themselves in the hopes of yielding $1.2 billion a year for roads (schools, cities, and the poor, etc.). Only this tax idea, already convoluted, has an added caveat.

According to Kevin Cotter, Speaker of the House, even if voters approve the sales tax increase from 6 per cent to 7 per cent, only about half the $1,200,000,000 collected in the first two years will actually go toward road construction, the remainder of the money will be used to retire bonds sold to pay for previous road construction.

So there you have it—Michigan’s destiny rests with how many “Ganders” turn out to vote on the ballot issue in May, and how many stay home. A taxing merry-go-round resembling a swindle perpetrated by a Warlock, two back-woods preachers, and an old schoolmarm.

Errol Putman
A Proud Michiganian from Blanchard

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