Let's recycle some recycling funds
By Nila Aamoth
The Penasee Globe
A statewide task force has been investigating Michigan's
pitiful position on recycling--currently at 20 percent,
among the worst in the nation. According to a news release
Lansing issued last week, we also hold the dubious honor
of being THE worst among Great Lakes states.
The task force suggested funding a statewide anti-litter
campaign and educational efforts to "instill a recycling
effort in Michigan residents."
Also on the "to do" list: more bans on landfill
numbers and acceptable materials to put a financial incentive
on recycling and control the type of waste entering landfills.
There is no mention of banning or even controlling the
Canadian waste that finds its way into Michigan landfills.
Among the most frustrating of the "solutions"
is the plan to create tax credits for investment in and
development of new markets for recycled products. It's
not a new idea; but throwing money at a problem does not
always solve it.
Our area is all too familiar with the results of such
governmental largesse: one example lies largely abandoned
The state paid more than $1 million to Ampro Industries
to build the massive factory to produce product from recycled
paper. And, indeed, Ampro fulfilled its promise long enough
make the company's bottom line attractive to an outstate
manufacturer. That concern, in turn, operated the industry
long enough to milk it dry and long enough to avoid defaulting
on the recycle grant; tax credits and incentives were
also extended generously. Then Homes and Gardens folded
its tent and stranded more than 100 workers in Allegan
County without jobs.
Now, another effort to "recycle" the site is
being hampered by groups that want to inflict their moral
indignation on everyone else, and by a state that hypocritically
clears the way only for gaming that will feed state coffers.
The lottery is the most onerous type of gambling. Low
income persons are intentionally targeted, using taxpayers'
dollars to pay for slick TV commercials and pointed jingles
that encourage buying millions of two-buck tickets with
the lure that one winner pockets a bundle and can quit
his job (after paying the state its share, of course).
Enter a new state plan: pull tabs and punch cards in bars
and restaurants. Except at the Lansing management level,
no new jobs will be generated by this scheme. Not one
bar will put on one extra employee to oversee loading
the pull tab machine.
A casino may not be the best-liked business in the world,
but it wouldn't be the first such employer to generate
many peripheral, desirable, jobs. One argument is the
new jobs would be on the lower end of the pay scale. Here's
a bulletin: there are a whole lot of people in this county
who would be delighted to be on ANY end of the pay scale.
If the state is going to take the high ground on gambling,
so be it. But if the state sees gambling as a source of
revenue to be funneled exclusively to Lansing, then they
are as guileful as feds selling prison-built office furniture
while West Michigan manufacturers take a nose-dive.
Even those who abhor gambling will admit that the Gun
Lake Tribe deserves the same considerations accorded other
Michigan Native Americans. Is the state balking at negotiating
with the tribe because they fear offending those who have
made gaming a moral issue--or is the state monopolizing
a revenue-producing industry to further its own agenda?
And where do eager dealings with non-Indian casino operations
fit into the picture?
When the state becomes a big player in any business that
ought to be privately run, the tribe is not the only segment
of the population left holding the short end of the stick.
Check your hand.
Meanwhile, a huge facility, built with your tax dollars,