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.
I live in the PRoM, and I agree, it's the regulations, etc. The state is basically insane. There is a new-this-year obligation for farmers to self-meter and report their water usage, or else face staggeringly draconian fines and penalties. This atrocity is not receiving any press coverage that I'm aware of.
I'm gonna guess that the next ratchet-up incremental step will be to require actual meters on wells (rather than an undefined as-to how to measure obligation that they report, or else), and the next step after that will be to charge people for the use of their own well water.
As to the insurance costs, thank John "Baby Doc" Engler. He never met an insurance industry he could resist crawling into bed with. The man was a total insurance whore. And after he found out Bush wasn't gonna give him a prime slot in the admin -- his first defeat, ever -- he dropped any facade of giving a rat's ass about Michigan and slunk off in a self-pity huff.
Right now, the Big Sooper-Sekrit make-money-fast deal is apples. After decades of watching the fruit market go to hell, thanks to the combined efforts of the gov't and our "friends" in China and Mexico, all of a sudden, a (relatively, in the grand sceme of things) small outfit in Shelby, MI got a contract with McD to supply them with apples for some new kind of menu item they'll be selling in their restaurants.
From what I hear, McD came up with some way of processing apples so that they don't turn brown, and now, they're gonna need lots of apples over the next (who knows how many?) years. So, they got a contract with this processor, who in turn is now (apparently) lining up growers.
So, the two farms that surround me -- one that was peaches until they were tore out last fall, and the other apples until about 5 years ago, when they were tore out, and replaced by a succession of vegetable crops -- are now suddenly sporting thousands of brand new apple saplings.
I'm hearing it's the same thing all over this part of the state. Apple trees going in like nobody's business.
Me, I'm wondering what's gonna happen a few years down the pike, after all these farmers are committed, extended, and dependent on one customer for all these apples (remember, up 'till now, apples were a glut on the market!), if that "one customer" decides to start barking out demands.
Last I heard, China is still capable of growing apples. And apples will handle storage and container transport just fine.
So, I'm not expecting an "apple miracle" for the PR of Michigan. But apparently plenty of people are expecting one. Me, I'm worrying about what the aftermath will look like if it all goes to hell a few years down the pike.
Michigan is a proving grounds for socialism. The sustained class warfare between the automakers and the autoworkers provided a fertile environment to test out various tenets of the monster. And, both sides played their parts with gusto. Idiots.
As to Mme. DeVos persnicketting about people making too much money, LOL! There is a certain undivine comedic aspect to seeing an Amway Heiress complaining about people making too much money.
I'm presuming she's not talking about "Independant Amway 'Distributors'", LMAO! (And yes, I am humiliated to confess that years ago, when I fell on hard times, I did allow my family to get suck[er]ed into that machine. And man, oh man, it did change my economic situation. It made the hard times harder. But I did have to work at it!)
LOL, but a sad, poignant laughter.