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Great Lakes Article:


Let's recycle some recycling funds

By Nila Aamoth
The Penasee Globe
11/03/03


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 in Bradley.

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, languishes.

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