Sucking up to corporations

TRAVERSE CITY — Bryant Gumbel’s show on HBO took a critical look at the so-far largely empty promises made by the Ilitch family in redeveloping a swath of downtown Detroit. When they built Little Caesar’s Arena, they got $324 million from Michigan taxpayers, money that was supposed to go to schools. In return, the Ilitchs were supposed to develop a 50-block area around the stadium, but so far little has happened. I’m not surprised. Handouts to corporations that don’t need them have always been a boondoggle. But cities and states can’t seem to stop offering them. They repeatedly take the bait that these wonder projects will bring jobs, inflate the tax base, save a blighted area etc. etc. etc. And it’s almost never true. Are Michigan cities better off for all the tax cuts they gave to automakers for decades? Subsidies and tax breaks are an addiction and the only way to beat an addiction is to go cold turkey and ban the practice of sucking up to corporations.

– Saudi Arabia just beheaded a 22-year-old man who was on his way to attend Western Michigan University in 2012 when he was arrested. His crime? He attended a pro-democracy rally during the Arab Spring. Tell me again why we’re friends with this nation? Oh, that’s right. Oil. I figure they have less than 20 years left before electric cars make them largely obsolete.

– I never knew I peeled fruit incorrectly until the invention of the interwebs. (Trouble is I’m terrible with a machete.)

– Just heard a local commercial say, “If we have it, it’s here.” Truer words were never spoken.

– I’m curious: Do people who have no interest in “Game of Thrones” simply endure it when someone who loves the show yammers on and on about it or do they say something like, “Stop right there, I’m not a fan and don’t know or care what you’re talking about”?

– Game of Thrones has been around eight years already, by the way. I didn’t start watching until a couple years ago, which probably explains why I still don’t know the names of more than a couple characters. If I’m talking about it with the lovely yet formidable Marcia, who is a big fan, I usually have to refer to characters by past actions and characteristics, as in “the sneaky little guy who forced that girl to marry him,” the “blond lady with the dragons” or “the guy who read all those books.” Remembering names has always been an issue for me.

– A guy on “Jeopardy” is over a million bucks in winnings. I’ll bet he’s insufferable to talk to at dinner parties.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman

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Andrew Heller, an award-winning newspaper columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Follow him at andrewheller.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Write to him via email at andrewhellercolumn@gmail.com.