Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Top 35

I wrote once before about an interactive map from cnn.com about how Michigan's budget deficit, when compared to other states, was actually not as bad as I would have anticipated. In simpler and more energetic blog times, I would probably provide a link to that post right now, but now I am more jaded and know that you would probably not care to click on that link. Oh to be back in those simpler, more principled and innocent blogging days.

Today another similar but different "slideshow" from CNBC.com caught my eye. They call it a slideshow because instead of giving you all the useful information on one easy to access and understand website, you have to click and wait for load 15 times to see all that you want to see. I find this quite stupid and annoying, so CNBC, clean up your act. This slideshow is the "Worse Expected State Budget Gaps" that are "ranked here (on Mr. Dumb Slideshow) according to the percentage of expected budget gap compared to state general funds." I don't know exactly what that means, but I patiently clicked through all 15 times holding my breath to see if the world would have yet another reason to knock on the mitten - and you know what? No Michigan. We're at least in the top 35! There are two really interesting things that I see in this annoying slideshow.

First, most of the states that are highly desired by my contemporaries are in not that good of shape. These are places that most people think really have their business together - at least way better than Michigan. These states include California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, and New York. I would like every state in our fine union of states to be budget-gap free, creating lots and lots of jobs, and providing all kinds of fantastic services to its residents, but this can't and won't be the case for a few years . It's a weird chicken and egg issue - people demand lower business taxes so that companies can create jobs and residents like all of the lovely services that their state provides, but then the ridiculously low taxes create a budget gap that makes it impossible to provide the highly desirable services.

Second, and still shocking to me, is that despite our most major economic problems topped off by the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler, Michigan didn't crack even the top (bottom) 15. We may be number 16 (it's hard to tell in stupid slideshow format), and things could get way worse before they get better (I think we can get all the way to #1 if we try hard enough), but for now, somehow, someone managing our finances kept the budget from spiraling immensely out of control. Now it is just mostly out of control - maybe we can keep immense at bay for another couple years.

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