Why doesn't Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox enforce the state's "item pricing law?"

How often do you go grocery or some other kind of shopping and find that an item you threw into your cart Video 50 0 00 03-30 didn't have a price or it had a price that didn't match the one that was scanned?

We had that happen to us today at the Menard's on the south side of Lansing where we purchased to new globes for the light fixtures in our downstairs bathroom.

My wife put them in our cart in spite of the fact there was no price on the globe nor on the shelve.  We both said they couldn't cost more than a couple of bucks each.  When we went through the checkout, we found that we were off by four dollars for each one.

That's irritating, but it's also in violation of the state's item pricing law.

What's your experience with item pricing in stores?  Do you ever have something marked one way and then scan at a higher cost.  Did you catch it?  How much do stores make each year by over-charging?

Why doesn't Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox enforce this state law that affects consumers so directly?  

U.S. will borrow $1 of every $3 its spends this year

Chew on this fact from today's Wall Street Journal and its columnist Gerald Seib:

The U.S. government this year will borrow one of every three dollars it spends, with many of those funds coming from foreign countries. That weakens America’s standing and its freedom to act; strengthens China and other world powers including cash-rich oil producers; puts long-term defense spending at risk; undermines the power of the American system as a model for developing countries; and reduces the aura of power that has been a great intangible asset for presidents for more than a century.

That's really scary.  What can be done?

Does the Bible say we should give thanks for all the bad stuff that happens?

Our family Thanksgiving celebration is still happening and last night we watched a couple of episodes of Band of Brothers, the story of a World War II Army unit in Europe.  It was a dramatic depiction of what they experienced with all the ugliness of that war.

I was struck by their discovery of a concentration camp they discovered in Germany where hundreds of Jewish men were being kept.  It was searing to the soul to watch and it had to be life-changing to have been there in person. 

Where does being thankful to God come in this kind of situation?  For the Jewish captives?  For their families?  For the American solidiers who found them?

In his blog post, I think Mart DeHaan of Radio Bible Class answers this.  You don't thank God for all the meanness and nastiness that happens in your life, but you thank him for being faithful to get you through it.

But, I don't see God wanting us to thank him for all the bad stuff that can happen.  Losing your health.  Losing a child, a spouse, your home.  Being hungry.  And all the other crap that is sometimes dumped on an individual.

Did Gov. Granholm have to make state school aid cuts?

So,  what's the deal about Gov. Granholm's cuts of state school aid to Michigan schools?  She said the tax revenues are just not there to support promised support for local public schools.  She's talking about the necessity of tax increases, adjustments, restructuring or whatever you want to call it.

The Republicans are saying that the cuts aren't necessary and that there's enough state revenue to cover state school aid.

Who do you believe?

Check this morning's news accounts:

  • Detroit Free Press reports about an additional cut that Granholm made yesterday in per-pupil state aid of $127.  That's on top of a $165 per student cut she made earlier in the weak.  Read down to the bottom of the first page of the story where House Minority Leader Kevin Elsenheimer says the cuts weren't necessary.  The money's there, he says.
  • Detroit News reports the same cuts and quotes Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop as saying the cut are "ridiculous" and says the legislature's state school aid bill was balanced.

Again, I ask, who is right?  State taxpayers are being fed two different stories.  Does one depend on his or her own internal prejudice or are there a reliable set of facts.

Can local school districts live with these cuts?  How will they affect classroom education?

In Michigan, check who got the 18,000 federal stimulus grants and contracts

I don't have time to play with this too much now, but if you're interested in who got the federal stimulus bucks here in Michigan-the grants, the contracts--the Lansing State Journal has a searchable database.  I plugged in my county--Ingham--and I was surprised.  See if you have the same reaction.  There are more than 18,000 recipients.  Keep in mind, these are companies, units of government and the like. 

Did Michigan dodge the state budget bullet?

Gov. Granholm has signed the last of the budget bills, according to this morning's Detroit Free Press.  There will be no government shutdown at the end of the month.  What does this mean?

Are the budget battles over in the Michigan Legislature?  Questions at the top of my list:

  • Just what was cut and how will these cuts specifically affect local areas?  Don't count on the news media to provide that information in this age of minimalist reporting.  Areas to look at include local schools and local government which both depend on state aid.
  • What are the best forecasts that more cuts will have to be made again this fiscal year?  State revenues are falling fast, we are being told.  What are the forecasts saying and what further cuts are being discussed?
  • What are your state legislators doing to explain all this?  Everybody in Michigan has a state representative and a state senator.  How visible and accessible are they to talk about these issues?  How knowledgeable are they about the state budget?

Part of a state legislator's job is to be an educator for their constituents.  They need to explain what happened in Lansing and what it means for local and state services and for how much tax your pay.

How would you rate your state legislators in doing this?

City of Standish (MI) says "no" to Gitmo prisoners

The city "fathers and mothers" of Standish (MI) says they do not want the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay Cuba to be transferred to their small town at the bottom of the Saginaw Bay.  

Their small town is home to a state prison slated to close at the end of this month and which is being seriously considered to house detainees from Guantanamo.  This would keep the prison open and it would continue adding to the local economy, but it would also make it the center of international attention.

The Standish City Council resolution, according to the Detroit Free Press, expresses preferences to house other prisoners from within the United States. 

Good Michigan news: Banner pumpkin crop as Halloween and Thanksgiving nears

Did you know that Michigan has a $15.3 million pumpkin crop and that this is a banner year for the big orange gourds?  Here's a video report from WLNS TV6 in Lansing about how local pumpkin growers are flourishing this season and they expect a big response from families.  Do you buy a Halloween pumpkin?  Are any shipped out of state?

Question: How many jobs did federal stimulus money create for Michigan?

Has the federal stimulus program been effective in creating jobs?

Look at the story in today's Detroit Free Press about how it's worked in Michigan.  On a gray cold morning in the Great Lakes state, it makes you want to throw up.  The story says:

In Michigan, about 400 jobs have been saved or created through federal contracts worth around $120 million – which could be read to suggest each job cost about $300,000 to create. In many cases, however, contractors reported that work is only now getting underway – or hasn’t yet – meaning many more jobs are expected to be created or saved.

From a Michigan church leader, Pastor David Maier: Where was God on 9/11?

Pastor David Maier, the new president of the Michigan District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod,  has a lot of "street credibility" when it comes to having your hope challenged.  His was twisted and turned inside out when a few years ago he was diagnosed with cancer right after his teenage son was found to have brain cancer.  His world was rocked.

That makes his insights about the uncertainty eight years after 9/11 worth reading.  Our economy is on life support and there are huge divisions among our citizens on just about everything.  There seems to be few places to set a life anchor.

In his post on his blog Fighting Forward, he writes about  9.11 ... A Day of Terror ... and HOPE, and recalls that fateful day that took so many lives and he writes about the lack of hope that seems to be permeating so much of our lives.

He turns to the Bible and what happened to the Apostle Paul and what happened to him. 

So where was God on 9/11?  He was there.  He provided hope then as he does now.

Anybody not see God's hand in what has happened and what continues to happen?

Dave maier

Does Standish (MI) know what it's doing by wanting Guantanamo terrorist suspects?

I know Standish (MI) where the federal government is considering housing the 400 terrorist suspects who are now in Guantanamo Cuba. 

I grew up about 20 miles south in Bay City which is a doorway to Michigan's north country and which right now is suffering from an economic depression.  During my childhood it was an engine for manufacturing with auto plants, parts plants, Dow Chemical, a major shipbuilder and much more.

Now there's healthcare jobs, teachers and all the associated education jobs, fast food jobs, along with an assortment of various other service jobs.

The Detroit Free Press this morning reports that the soon to be vacated state prison at Standish is being considered as a place to house suspects and perpetrators in our war on terror.

The local leadership appears to be anxious for the jobs and all the economic benefit.

But what will it do for the area?  Will this sleepy area at the foot of the Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron become the focus for the conflict that brought us 9-11?  Has or will this be thought through about how this will change life for an area where I still have many friends and family?

History shows that economic stimulus efforts don't work

We are days away from the swearing-in on Barak Obama as president and from this country's move towards spending hundreds of millions of dollars on an economic stimulus package.  The federal government will take the money from the taxpayers and give it back to them in the form of new programs.

Does this kind of effort help jump start the economy or is it just taking money out of the pocket of the taxpayer and putting it in the pocket of the federal government without any practical effect?

This video from the CATO Institute says history clearly shows such efforts don't work.  What do you think?  Why do this if history says such efforts are a ruse?  Is it just political eyewash to give voters the false impression that something's being done?

Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes says Michigan may be on the verge of collapse

Has our state of Michigan gone beyond the tipping point in terms of its future?

The Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes has a tough read here
about the Great Lakes State and its inability to get itself free from its economic death spiral. 

He says, the auto companies and the unions should have seen it coming a long time ago.

Is he overstating our condition?  Is it better or worse than he says?

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Michigan's Meijers stores need to take a lesson from this German supermarket

Have you tried the new self-serve checkout lanes at the Meijers stores in Michigan?  They have two types, one when you buy a few items and one when you buy more.

Doing the job of a Meijers checkout person can be hard, frustrating work.  Take all the times that the scanner malfunctions with the computer and you have to wave your arms for assistance.  Then take the times when you buy a six-pack of beer or a bottle of wine and everything stops until the store employee comes to see if you're underage. 

This supermarket in Germany
has the answer, maybe.  You use your mobile phone as a personal shopping assistant.  You scan each item with your phone and then use the phone to check out.  Looks pretty pain free with minimal frustration.

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Mid-Michigan gas price report: $3.69 per gallon at southwest Lansing Shell station

It was hard to not notice the price sign at the Shell station on the northwest corner of Waverly and Old Lansing Roads on the southwest side of Lansing.  It read $3.69.9 per gallon.

At the restaurant where I had breakfast with three other guys, conversations included talk of the higher prices.  There were few SUVs and big pick-up trucks in the parking lot of our breakfast place.

While eating breakfast, we read Psalm 82 and talked about how it was relevant to our everyday lives.  It was a reminder that God will hold leaders accountable for what they do.  So if oil company leaders and politicians are boofing us on oil prices, they will be asked about it when they see God eyeball-to-eyeball.

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How can states move away from using plastic grocery bags?

How many plastic grocery bags do you have in your house?

Here in Michigan we shop at Meijers at least once a week where we add at least 8-10 new plastic bags every week.  In our basement, we probably have 500 of the hard to get rid of bags stuffed in a big trash bag.

Governing magazine, in its blog,  writes about the dilemma in using the bags and about the effort to get consumers to go reusable.

Is this something that state legislatures should mandate?  How badly are  we hurting the environment by allowing their use?

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How big was threat of prevailing wage ordinance in helping Lansing (MI) lose TechSmith construction

There should be some serious lamenting going on at Lansing (MI) City Hall right now with the announcement that the city was losing the construction of a promised new corporate headquarters for software developer TechSmith.  It was to anchor a Michigan State University high tech park inside the city limits.

Tech Smith CEO Bill Hamilton is quoted in today's Lansing State Journal as saying now is just not the right time for his company to construct a 100,000 square foot building that would cost $20 million.  His company makes the popular SnagIt and Camtasia Studio software.

One of the factors, but not the deciding one, according to Hamilton is:

A proposal before the Lansing City Council to create a prevailing wage and require it of local contractors on projects that receive local tax incentives.

My question:  How big of a factor was the City Council's talk of a prevailing wage ordinance in losing this project?  And what is our city gaining from a possible prevailing wage?

We've lost this project and the employment that it would have brought in the future. 

Where's the gain?

Quick read: Detroit News says growing number of car buyers are delinquent with their car loans

As the state of Michigan struggles with the downsizing of the auto industry, the Detroit News reports this morning that an increasing number of new car buyers are behind with their car payments. 

Here in the Lansing area, car plants assemble vehicles that retail in the high 30's and 40's.  What does this mean for them?

The story says:

  • The latest data from the American Bankers Association showed the delinquency rate for indirect auto loans, typically arranged by dealers for their customers, rose in the third quarter to 2.86 percent, a 16-year high.
  • Highly rated borrowers are falling behind, too. In December, 2.09 percent of prime auto loans rated by Standard & Poor's in 2006 were more than 30 days past due, up from 1.85 percent for loans made a year earlier, and above the historical highs of 2001.

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