Why I Am Voting NO on Michigan’s Proposal 6

How I Am Voting on Michigan’s Ballot Initiatives, Part 1:
Why I am voting NO on Proposal 6

Next Tuesday, November 6, I will vote NO on Proposal 6, “A Proposal to Amend the State Constitution Regarding Construction of International Bridges and Tunnels” (full text here). I am voting NO because I don’t think some rich asshole who owns the only bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, should be protected by an amendment to the state constitution from the competition that a new bridge, the New International Trade Crossing (NITC), which will go up two miles south of the rich asshole’s bridge, would present.

According to the language of the measure, passage of Prop 6 would make it so that consideration of any “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” would have to go to a statewide referendum before any state funding could be allocated “for acquiring land, designing, soliciting bids for, constructing, financing, or promoting new international bridges or tunnels.”

Such a referendum process would be financially burdensome on the state, of course. And the plan is also cynically manipulative of the anti-tax attitudes of many citizens in a state that was hit particularly hard by the Great Recession, an attitude the rich asshole is counting on, judging by his efforts to get Prop 6 onto the ballot in Michigan in the first place and now to try to get it passed. He has gone to astonishing personal expense in his campaign for Prop 6, which suggests that he is likely to invest similarly significant resources to try to defeat any such referendum, should Prop 6 actually pass. According to the Detroit Free Press, his Yes-on-6 campaign has outspent the No-on-6 side by nearly 40 to 1.

But Prop 6 is also problematic because of the way it seeks to subvert the process by which an elected legislature represents the citizens and does the work of deciding how state revenues should be spent. That is their job. That is how it works.

Let’s be clear about this: Proposal 6 is written for absolutely no other reason than to protect that rich asshole’s monopoly. The NITC, for which an agreement has already been reached between the United States and Canada, has statewide bipartisan support. Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, strongly favors it, as do former Michigan governors Jennifer Granholm (D) and John Engler (R), along with a number of similarly strange bedfellows, like the Michigan State AFL-CIO and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. (You can see a list of prominent supporters of the bridge project here. By contrast, check out who’s all for Prop 6.) Even Detroit’s leading newspapers, the liberal Free Press and the conservative News, which rarely find common ground, have both come out in support of NITC and in their opposition to Prop 6.

But the NITC would take toll revenue away from the rich asshole and end his monopoly, which is why he has dropped something like $33M so far to get Prop 6 on the ballot and to blast Michigan voters with misinformation in order to try to get it passed. His campaign has relied heavily on false claims (debunked here and here). One particularly egregious claim that his campaign keeps hammering is that NITC will cost Michigan taxpayers $100M per year, when in fact the entire tab is being picked up by the Canadian government.

The upside of NITC for Michigan taxpayers, apart from getting a fantastic new international bridge that will cost us next to nothing, includes 10,000-15,000 jobs for workers here in Michigan and on the Canadian side. Improving delivery efficiency between the two countries, which is critical for the U.S. auto industry (and therefore to Michigan workers) as well as for other industries, would be another significant economic benefit for the state. The NITC project would also result in an influx of more than $2 billion for Michigan in federal matching funds for which the state would be eligible even though Canada is putting up Michigan’s share of the construction costs.

In other words, NITC is a winning proposition for everyone except one rich asshole.

In sum, Prop 6 is a ridiculous outrage. There is no other way to say this. A rich asshole with more money than sense, no concept whatsoever of a greater good, and a complete lack of acquaintance with the truth simply should not be able to buy himself a constitutional amendment in order to guarantee himself the right to a monopoly for the foreseeable future on the revenue generated from everyone who travels between Detroit and Windsor (and every single thing that is delivered from one city to the other), and to hell with the costs to everyone else.

Vote NO on 6 not only to send this selfish jackass a resounding message that his astonishing greed will not be countenanced by the people of this state but also to support the opportunity to get a state-of-the-art new international crossing that will cost us practically nothing and that will be a great help toward getting Michigan back on its feet

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