The Drift with Gary Wellings

What's Wrong with Michigan?


There’s been plenty of talk about fixing this, fixing that and fixing Michigan, but before you fix anything you need to know what’s broken.

As a State, Michigan has everything it needs. Natural resources, water, open land, recreation and because of the manufacturing downturn for the last decade or so, a large unemployed but skilled population that is familiar with the manufacturing environment. This same manufacturing downturn has left our State with an abundant supply of buildings, factories and other facilities that can be leased or bought for sometimes pennies on the dollar.

Basic laws of economics such as supply and demand would tell you that every intelligent business owner or entrepreneur should be flocking to Michigan to set up shop.

Should be. That’s the key. Why aren’t they? Because the problem is not with Michigan. The problem is with Lansing. What has happened in Michigan is that State Government has artificially changed this economic environment.

Government interference with basic economic laws has taken a State that should be booming into a state of financial crisis.

What keeps businesses from obeying the laws of economics is the tax and regulatory changes to this potentially productive and lucrative environment.

States with low taxes and business friendly environments are succeeding where we are failing, even though they don’t have the resources or skilled workforce that Michigan has. Arizona, Utah, Tennessee, Kentucky, even Ohio, are all succeeding where we are failing.

Lansing must be fixed. Insanity is often defined as doing the same thing over and over and getting the same bad result. For more than a decade now, Lansing has allowed our State economy to head downhill. Let’s stop this insanity. The elected leaders we have had for the last decade have not succeeded in getting the job done. It’s not because they don’t know how, they just refuse to utilize their backbones to make the decisions to do what is right.

The only way to fix Lansing is to fix the leadership, and that means it’s time to stop sending the same ineffective leaders to Lansing. Now that we have we must keep the pressure up on our newly elelcted representatives so that they don't become the politicians we got rid of.



As the Chief Editor of The Courant,  a monthly printed newspaper based out of Whitmore Lake, I have written many editorials on issues of local, state and national concern.

The website,  archives current and older editions of the paper and  associated links. As the campaign unfolds, I will bring my positions on issues to this page, but to see good examples of my views, please visit

Ideas for Education

As new results come in for school performance across the State and people weigh in on whether the new plan out of Lansing for teacher retirement will be beneficial or not, we have to ask ourselves a simple question. Is the system we are using for public education working?

If you look at the exceedingly poor results from districts like Detroit you’d have to say no, but you can’t make broad generalizations. There are some districts in the State that are working. What this comes down to is the fact that each school district has its own special circumstances and that a statewide program won’t always work the same way in every district. I don’t like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and revamping the entire system would probably only hurt those school districts that are managing to graduate large percentages of quality students.

For those districts like Detroit that are failing in their objective we need something new. Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb has been trying (thus far ineffectively) to change the Detroit school district. He has made great strides in ending corruption and cutting waste, but he and the School Board cannot seem to make the children learn any better. The reason in my opinion is pretty simple. The kids don’t want to learn. They have no realistic expectation of how they will benefit from doing well in school. They have no role models on which to base a desire to do well. That may be the trick to improving performance in under achieving schools.

I have been an Adult Education Teacher and Administrator and have run a Family Investment Center in Public Housing. I have seen what happens to children who have no role models for success. I have heard from both men and women who grow up as children having no role models and only finally find the drive to improve their lives after years of living with no direction and no hope.

Each one of them had one thing in common; single parent households with little to no discipline and no role models for successful behavior. Our society has failed our children. As our society becomes less family oriented, we need to find another way to provide strong positive role models for the children going to our schools.

Maybe it’s time to revamp the school model and reinvent the classroom where it’s not just an educated, certified and trained teacher working the classroom alone. That model is shown to be failing in many districts.

Maybe it’s time to put a second person in the classroom. I think almost everyone, including successful single parents would agree that having two parents is the best way to raise a child. If the children of today’s society cannot get that extra parenting in the home maybe it’s time to put that discipline and caring back into the classroom. This extra person would not have to be a certified teacher but someone with the ability to connect, correct and counsel children as a positive influence in their lives.

 Maybe it’s time to change the laws governing our school system so that we can restructure those schools that are not successfully performing in the traditional setting.

This of course would require lots of flexibility from teachers, their unions and their lobbyists but it needs to be done. It would also require parents and society to again allow the school system more control of our children. Otherwise we can continue spending more and more money on an educational system that continues to fail and it’s the children who will pay the price for our negligence and apathy.


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