The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rick Snyder: clearly not afraid ...

... to stick his neck out.  Like a number of first time politicians, Snyder is promising fast action, although so far, he isn't really saying action on what.

"We are going to lay out a plan — a very aggressive plan. In the first six months of this administration, we're going to try to achieve incredible things … that you would think would take years or decades."

Some of his initiatives are to cut taxes ... and to have government focus on customer service.  Interesting mix of objectives there; I'm not sure how you'd go about that, given that taxes are not especially high now, by comparison, and customer service from state government is not very obvious at any level.  Not saying it can't be done, especially with those vague user stories, but I'm not sure how well we'll like it, if it does happen.  
One concrete proposal from Snyder has been to lower state employee salaries to comparability with the private sector. Great idea if, in fact, there is a disparity -- haven't seen any numbers, myself, but that doesn't mean anything.  More to the point, though, is that many, many state employees are represented by unions such as AFSCME, the Michigan Education Association (the teachers' union,) and others.  Nothing involving sweeping changes in compensation will be quick -- certainly not in six months. 

More interesting is Snyder's stated desire to rid the state of divisiveness and to foster a culture of cooperation.  Anyone who's lived in Michigan any length of time will hear that and kind of cock their head to one side, like a dog who'd really like to understand you but doesn't.   The reality of Michigan is that it consists of a vastly incompetent Detroit-focused Democratic party and the rest of the state, which is represented by vastly incompetent Republicans.  Divisiveness is practically taught in school. We are so short of real political talent here that ... well, that we elected a political outsider as Governor.
So, we'll see.  Snyder appears to be making good initial moves, staying closer to the center of the road than the other GOP candidates, and cooperating with the outgoing administration.  But real changes in six months?  Good luck with that. Let's see how it goes.

Update: Snyder says  that cuts were needed but that he "wouldn’t take away anything that’s already been earned by anyone." He dismissed the suggestion that previous cuts were sufficient and suggested he wants to institute long-term reforms.

But he also says: Fighting to eliminate collective bargaining rights is "probably not a viable option in the Michigan system."

I just flat don't get it.  Maybe I'm missing something.  Or Ann is confusing me.  I suppose, sigh, I should actually read what Snyder's saying rather than rely on the local press interpretations thereof.  But that would be work, and I'm not supposed to be working right now.  It was work enough reading the Kilpatrick indictment.