Skip to comments.Betsy DeVos: Michigan workers paid too much
Posted on 04/28/2004 4:52:10 PM PDT by FourPeas
So, who does Betsy DeVos think is getting paid too much?
The Republican state party chairwoman raised the issue Tuesday when she issued a press release saying high wages were partly to blame for Michigan's economic woes.
"Many, if not most, of the economic problems in Michigan are a result of high wages and a tax and regulatory structure that makes this state uncompetitive," DeVos said in the prepared statement.
The press release was issued as DeVos criticized Gov. Jennifer Granholm for pinning the blame on President Bush for Michigan's loss of nearly 200,000 manufacturing jobs. Granholm was in Washington, D.C. with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow touting plans to protect manufacturing jobs.
Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Butch Hollowell wasted no time in pouncing on the comments.
"I hate to tell Betsy DeVos this, but high wages are not a bad thing," Hollowell said. "They're good, and we need more of them."
DeVos, a longtime West Michigan GOP activist who owns the Grand Rapids holding company Windquest Group, and whose husband's family owns Alticor Inc., said she only was referring to the realities of the global economy.
"When you see jobs going to our neighbors to the Southeast -- South Carolina, Virginia and Alabama -- their economic climate for job creators is much more hospitable than ours," DeVos, of Ada, told the Press Tuesday.
All three states DeVos mentioned are right-to-work states, which have few unions and lowered wages. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, right-to-work employees earned $5,333 less a year in 2001 than workers in union jobs.
DeVos said right-to-work laws must be considered, along with other solutions to regulations and high taxes on businesses.
"States with right-to-work environments have an advantage in attracting new jobs," she said. "The fact we have high wages in some areas, there will continue to be adjustments as job creators adjust to the realities."
Greenville refrigerator maker Electrolux announced plans earlier this year to send thousands of jobs to plants in South Carolina and Mexico, the latter of which pays workers $2 an hour, noted Lupe Ramos-Montigny, the Kent County Democratic Party chairwoman.
"To be competitive, we have to resort to getting paid less than the minimum wage?" Ramos-Montigny said. "Is that what she's saying? If that's the case, it won't work, because people won't be able to survive."
With Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry scheduled to campaign today in Ann Arbor on jobs issues, the rhetoric heated up Tuesday.
Greg McNeilly, the executive director of the state Republican Party, said Democrats will be hard-pressed to engage in what he suggested was class warfare.
"When it comes to who's more like Michigan's working class, I'll match my $8 Supercuts haircut to John Kerry's $1,000 hair trim," McNeilly said. "Grow-up, Mr. Hollowell. Playing the 'class card' is so Dukakis."
Hollowell said he hopes Kerry will use his Michigan appearance to single out DeVos' comments on high wages.
It has been a month since DeVos and Democrats got entangled in another war of words over the economy.
When it was announced that Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls Inc. was sending 885 jobs to its auto visor plant in Mexico, where workers earn $2 an hour, Hollowell said, "If (DeVos' family) were so concerned about job losses, they shouldn't have sold it to JCI in the first place."
The JCI operation in Holland was originally Prince Corp., founded by Betsy DeVos' father, Edgar Prince, and sold by the family in 1996 for $1.35 billion.
DeVos shot back, saying, "That is probably a commentary on what Butch Hollowell knows about business."
Hollowell said DeVos still doesn't get it when it comes to the economy.
"The fact that we had a manufacturing economy which paid people good wages is responsible for our middle class," Hollowell said. "They allowed people to send their kids to college, make improvements on their homes, save for their retirement. That's the American dream. This just underscores how remote the Republican leadership is from ordinary people. ... It means the Republican Party in general just doesn't get it."
Agreed, completely. But, she should be (is) smart enough to not hand it to them on a platter.
Looks to me more like the Dems don't "get it" - the operative word there is "had" - "HAD a manufacturing economy."
Just like California couldn't force me to stay there to pay their absurd 8.25% sales tax and 9.3% income tax to fund their white-elephant rail systems and fill their $30 billion Democrat-dug fiscal hole, Michigan can't force businesses to stay there to be sucked dry by taxes, regulation, and employement lawyers.
The reason the manufacturing jobs paid people good wages is because the businesses were making even more money on their labor. This is a cardinal sin among Democrats, of course.
High wages per se are not a bad thing or a good thing. Paying somebody fifty bucks an hour to push a broom at McDonald's is great for the broom pusher, but a payroll based on those wages would result in ten dollar hamburgers and a fast bankruptcy.
On the other hand, paying the same fifty bucks an hour to a software engineer who brings in incremental revenue to his employer above and beyond his salary is good for both employer and employee. The solution is for people to get education and/or training so that their empirical worth can be reflected in their salary. There ain't no free lunch.
I live in California and I don't even pay 7.5% sales tax.
Yep. Lived in The Thumb for 10 years, working for a nonunion automotive supplier.
It's expensive to do business here and it's not just wages, it's regulations, legal climate, insurance costs, etc.
As you should well know, the Big 3 squeeze the lifeblood out of their suppliers, so wages paid in The Thumb were just as low as any other rural area in our nation. But I agree with you on the regulatory/litigitory/insurance climate -- it sucked.
Could it be because you haven't asked it on this thread?
Or could it be one you asked sometime maybe 6~9 months ago that I actually answered and you now want to falsely accuse me of avoiding?
OR (final option) could it be the one that I intentionally ignored because I got tired of playing your silly rhetorical games?