You get what you pay for

By Kyle Melinn

You get what you pay for

I guess I figured I’d save a couple of cents. I don’t know what I was thinking.

A few months ago, I bought that paper-thin, sandpaper-soft, public restroom-quality generic toilet paper. Never again.

I wasted a quarter of the roll getting it started, and it all went down hill from there.

There’s a list inside my head of those things I’ll spend a little more for. T.P. was added to that list. Here are a few other annoyances.

I’m tired of needing a frontend alignment and a chiropractic adjustment every time I drive down Saginaw Avenue from Delta Township to Frandor or any stretch of Mt. Hope Avenue in Ingham County.

I’m annoyed that 13 years after graduating from Michigan State, I’m still paying off my college tuition.

The state Department of Natural Resources has been shutting down campgrounds in the middle of the summer. I’m still seeing water bottles thrown in the trash while carbonated water bottles are picked up for the 10-cent deposit.

And the same state child welfare system that gave us Ricky Holland’s murder is so strained, a federal court ordered us to spend more money on it.

Somewhere in Lansing, there are plans to address this short list of annoyances. A stable road funding formula. Free college tuition. Open campgrounds. A bottle bill expansion. A proper number of case workers for wards of the state.

These aren’t wild ideas. There’s solid support for each proposal. Put them all on the ballot, and they all could pass. But getting any of them through the House, Senate and governor’s office?

You’d have a better chance floating a dinghy through the Bermuda Triangle.

These plans all require a “tax increase,” two words that create instant paralysis in Lansing.

Throw a tax increase into the room and shutting down government becomes a realistic option.

Lansing’s deepest urban legend is that nothing will make someone’s legislative career more temporary than a tax increase vote, as if state legislative careers aren’t temporary with term limits anyway.

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Every politician’s number one priority is jobs and economy. Yet, no matter how hard it tries, Lansing can not fix the state’s auto industry or the economy. Not with tax cuts. Not with sporadic state investments in alternative energy and new fuels.

There’s no secret “Economy” room in the Capitol. You can’t turn a few knobs and throw a few switches and get people to start buying General Motors again.

The least we can do is fix the things we can fix, and take a little pride in our state.

Last year, 23 Michigan counties turned paved roads into gravel because they didn’t have the money to repave them. The news lured in a Hollywood-productioncompany to use our third-word roads as an example of the country’s crumbling infrastructure. That’s not acceptable.

A bipartisan gubernatorial work group reported last year that changing the state’s 19-centa-gallon gas tax to a percentagebased system will keep Michigan from losing its federal road money in 2011. Let’s do it.

A study by the nonpartisan organization Michigan Future recently showed that Michigan will become among the nation’s 10 poorest states because it doesn’t have a young, educated workforce to make up for the manufacturing jobs that are drip, drip, dripping away. That’s not acceptable.

Reps. Alma Wheeler Smith and Rebekah Warren suggest increasing the income tax from 4.35 percent to 5.5 percent in exchange for free college tuition. It’s worth a look.

Better parks could come from a proposal to create an optional $10 fee on annual vehicle tag renewals, something Warren and Sen. Patty Birkholz is pushing. Sign me up

An expanded bottle bill means paying 10 cents today with the promise of getting 10 cents tomorrow if you pick up after yourself. The Michigan United Conservation Clubs is on it. It’s an idea that’s about a decade overdue.

A new state study said paying an extra nickel for a bottle of beer will allow for the hiring of more case workers to prevent another Holland-like murder. Bottoms up. Yes, all of these things cost a little extra money. But as my little misadventure with the toilet paper showed, I don’t mind bucking up a few extra dollars for those things that chap my bottom.

We can add all five of these things to the list.

(Kyle Melinn is the editor at the MIRS newsletter. His column runs weekly. Write