Economist tells policy forum ‘things have improved’


Robert Genetski, a self-described “classical economics” economist from Saugatuck who is affiliated with the conservative Heartland Institute in Chicago, made another appearance at the West Michigan Policy Forum last week in Grand Rapids.

Genetski said that when he last did an analysis of Michigan economics — six years ago, when Democrat Jennifer Granholm was still governor — “everything in Michigan was headed in the wrong direction” and state government was “absolutely the worst in the nation at that time.”

“Things have improved dramatically since then,” said Genetski.

His website,, states that he holds a Ph.D. in economics from New York University.

Genetski said he figures Michigan is now “about an average performing state,” but added that “average is not what drives us.”

He said that through “free will … God gave us the key to achieving economic prosperity,” but he said voters “elect the wrong policymakers and suffer,” adding, “so we need an educated work force.”

He decried major federal legislation of a few years ago — specifically, the Dodd-Frank Act and the Affordable Care Act — which he said are costing U.S. taxpayers $400 billion a year, and living standards are “going down throughout the country.”

A Right To Work law in Michigan has been a goal of the WMPF since it first convened in 2008, with Genetski and other speakers this year expressing relief that Gov. Rick Snyder finally got it enacted in Michigan.

Genetski said that in the past he had recommended Michigan join the other Right To Work states. “I mentioned it, and it happened,” he said.

He said states with Right to Work laws, which are intended to diminish the power of labor unions, “tended to grow faster (economically) than the national average.” He said states with the lowest percentage of unionized workers “grew very rapidly, at or above the national average.”

On the issue of taxes, Genetski said Michigan has the worst tax burden on its citizens of all 50 states, which he attributes to uncontrolled state government spending. Michigan is “spending far more for education … and welfare” than any of the surrounding Great Lakes states.

“State and local employees make more than the private sector,” he said.

On the issue of where Michigan is headed, Genetski said the past four years under Snyder have seen “all positive accomplishments” by Michigan government, but, he added, “there were a couple of policy mistakes.”

One mistake he cited was the legislation increasing the minimum wage, which he said hurts teenagers and special needs adults who can’t find jobs because minimum wage laws allegedly discourage employers from hiring.

Genetski summed up his advice with a graphic on “How to make Michigan a top performing state,” spelled out on the screen during his presentation at the Amway Grand Plaza Monday morning.

His first piece of advice is to “cut tax burdens to below U.S. average — cut or eliminate all income taxes — pay down debt.”

The second point was: “Limit state spending to essential public services: reduce public employee compensation, shift public employees to IRA pension plans, end corporate welfare, increase spending on highway infrastructure.”

The third point on the screen was: “Remove regulations that inhibit individual freedom — repeal minimum wage to increase real wages.”

During his commentary, he recommended cuts in state spending on education in Michigan, noting it has gone up 10 percent in the last two years. But he said the state is spending less on roads, and “that should be increased.” Michigan needs “a restructure of the state budget,” he said.

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