One of the campaign pledges Mr. DeVos is making is to get Michigan working again. Michigan's unemployment rate is running at least 2.1% points higher than the rest of the country. And with lay-offs coming at Ford, GM, and Delphi, it's only going to go up.
Michigan's economy has always been tied to the automotive industry, at least for the last seventy years. If you drove an American car, there's a good chance it was made in Detroit, Flint or Lansing. But lately this economy has been hurting, and even the introduction of employee pricing last fall didn't do much to save the Big Three automakers.
There's a lot of reasons given as to why this has happened. But here is only one reason, and it's simple economics.
When Henry Ford first started mass producing automobiles, his workers were the highest paid auto workers. They earned enough to afford to buy the cars they were building, thereby increasing orders. And as the business spread, so did the number of cars sold. Now, of course, most parts making is being outsourced, closing factories in Michigan. Since 1999, one in three plant jobs have been lost in Michigan. People who don't have jobs can't afford to buy new cars, and with the low paying jobs being created in the new economy, they can't afford to buy new cars either. When people can't afford to buy new cars, new car sales start to slump.
A ripple effect spreads and before you know it, you're sliding into a recession that spreads into other areas of the economy. New housing sales are down five percent. Support businesses that relied on the automotive industry start to falter as well. In fact, except for the executives, everybody starts to feel the pinch.
So Dick DeVos thinks he can change that. It takes more than bold pronouncements to do it, it takes a plan. And so far, all Mr. DeVos has shown us is that he knows how to drive a car. Which makes him one of the few in the state who can still afford to do it.