Land O Links

"Sorrow is knowledge, those that know the most must mourn the deepest, the tree of knowledge is not the tree of life" -- Lord Byron, 19th century English poet.

* "Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!" So, one state lawmaker gets recalled in a quarter-century and there's a bipartisan rush to change the recall rules in Michigan? Sigh. One thing that Democratic and Republican politicians can agree upon is that they want to cling to their paychecks with every trick, every advantage, they can cull from their position and the public purse. It's frankly embarrassing. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Lansing's problem isn't too much partisanship, it's too little accountability.

Recall is an accountability measure, voters. Don't let the politicians take it away from you:

http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/article/20111107/NEWS01/111070315/Mich-recall-effort-sparks-reform-talk?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

* A promise is a promise is a promise. Two state lawmakers are trying to fix what they see as a problem with this year's tax revamp: " State Reps. Holly Hughes, R-White River Township, Marcia Hovey-Wright, D-Muskegon, and other legislators find one consequence of the state's budget and tax reform package approved earlier this year was a reversal of a Michigan promise." They want the state income tax exemption restored in renaissance zones.

If you want to push this idea, fine. Argue that the exemption is needed to make ren zones work, if you wish. But, please, let's get out of this "promise" business.

For example, Hughes has a bit of a consistency promise here. Earlier this year, she provided a vote in favor of the bill to tax public pensions, despite the fact that earlier state policy had left them untaxed. Government retirees have said this was a "promise," too. So which "promises" meet Hughes' protection test? At least Hovey-Wright is being somewhat consistent: She voted against the tax on public pensions and she's pushing a restored exemption for ren-zone residents.

Public policy is not a "promise." Trying to treat it as such only will yield bad policy, which, surprise, is what Michigan has had on taxes for some time now:

http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2011/11/income_tax_exemption_fix_for_s.html

* Speaking of public pensions, the Detroit News came up with a headline about state retirees drawing six-figure pensions. Politicians figure prominently in the list; no surprise there. The real news, however, is further down: "More than a third of Michigan's 244,356 state retirees collect less than $10,000 a year in pension income, and roughly two-thirds get less than $20,000."

The real fiscal issue involving public retirees in Michigan isn't the size of their pensions, but the spiraling costs of covering health insurance for them. As the News' story reports, the state's pension programs are in decent fiscal shape. The same is not true of the health-care systems for state retirees:

http://www.detnews.com/article/20111107/METRO/111070361/1409/metro/49-state-retirees-collect-pensions-that-top-$100K

* The freighter Edmund Fitzgerald sank 36 years ago this week:

http://jalopnik.com/5858239/remembering-the-wreck-of-the-edmund-fitzgerald-36-years-later

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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