“Do TV ads make people dumber? We’ll have a much better idea Tuesday after Michigan voters, in what amounts to a collective IQ test, go to the polls to decide between Matty Moroun’s malarky and close to $3 billion in transportation improvements that won’t cost state taxpayers a dime.”
Posted by: Gord Henderson
Do TV ads make people dumber? We’ll have a much better idea Tuesday after Michigan voters, in what amounts to a collective IQ test, go to the polls to decide between Matty Moroun’s malarky and close to $3 billion in transportation improvements that won’t cost state taxpayers a dime.
On paper, saying “no” to Proposal 6, the proposed constitutional amendment designed to block a new international bridge that would compete with Moroun’s profit-spewing Ambassador Bridge, is a no-brainer. I mean, who in their right mind, apart from a vested interest, would reject one of the great freebies of all time, a deal that would see Canadian taxpayers foot the entire bill, $550 million, for Michigan’s share of a bridge project that will create tens of thousands of jobs in the state?
Better yet, that money from the Great White North would allow the cash-strapped state to tap into a staggering $2.2 billion in U.S. federal funds for highway projects across Michigan. That’s one heck of a lot of potholes filled with buckets of cash levered from Washington, and Lord knows Michigan needs help with its roads.
But paper doesn’t vote. Citizens do. And the citizens of Michigan have been subjected to a mind-numbing onslaught of misleading TV advertising, a tsunami of costly but effective propaganda created by some of the slickest people in the mind-bending business, aimed at convincing them that turning down free infrastructure money by endorsing Proposal 6 will, against all logic, decrease class sizes and put more firefighters to work.
Money doesn’t just talk. It can shout drivel to the rafters, drowning out all other voices when there’s enough of it. Billionaire Moroun’s millions, a reported $31.6 million as of last week, have monopolized the “debate” over Proposal 6. Outspent more than 30 to one, the voices of reason, led by razor-sharp Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder, have struggled to find an audience.
From a Windsor perspective, this one-sided fight has been brutal to witness, like watching a train wreck unfold in slow motion with your friends and neighbours on board. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve wanted to throw something at the TV screen to shut up Matty’s mercenaries.
Sadly, this stuff is working. “They’re all drinking Matty’s Kool-Aid,” confided one young commuter from Windsor who has tried unsuccessfully to convince his Detroit workmates that Proposal 6 would maintain the monopoly of one rich old man at their expense. It’s a tough sell. “You people,” he’s been told, “just want to come over here and grab all our jobs.” Some flat-out refuse to believe Canada would pay Michigan’s share. They think it must be a trick. Some see Canada’s offer as a blow to American pride. “We don’t need your money,” he’s been told, because the U.S. (and never mind that $16 trillion debt) is the richest country on earth.
It never ceases to amaze that people would accept as gospel — real news — pitches worthy of an old-time snake-oil salesman, assailing us during TV pee breaks. But hey, it works.
The good news? At the end of the day, Proposal 6 might turn out to be no more than a Moroun vanity exercise, a chance to keep his name front and centre (what could be more important than that?) and top-gun lawyers busy for months to come. As Gov. Snyder explained in a recent interview with WXYZ Action News, “We’re all set on an agreement to build this bridge without any taxpayer involvement. It’s all signed. It’s a done deal. We’re set. We’re ready to go. We’re applying for permits.”
He said there’s a “strong legal argument to say it’s an agreement (with Canada) already made and this provision (Proposal 6) shouldn’t apply.” In other words, technically it’s all systems go. Still, he conceded a yes vote could result in lawsuits and delays that would hold back much-needed job creation.
A bridge to nowhere? Not a chance, said a senior government official in Canada. He told me that those involved with this file at Queen’s Park and in Ottawa sleep well at night because they know Snyder doesn’t require a penny in state appropriations to make this project a reality.
Backing that up, he said, are assurances from Washington that it won’t sit idle, no matter who becomes president Tuesday, if Michigan gets bogged down on approving a new bridge essential to the American economy.
At the end of the day the U.S. remains a proud, sovereign nation. It cannot allow one old man, no matter how rich, to continue his domination of its most important trade corridor.
Still, it would be nice to see Michigan voters prove H. L. Mencken wrong. The legendary cynic famously claimed “nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”