Why I Didn’t Run

I struggled with the decision to run for Governor. Rome is burning and the people who started the fire, the professional politicians, are beyond redemption. I don’t think that they have solutions to offer. They only want another job at the public trough.

That leaves us ordinary citizens to sacrifice our careers and our privacy to put out the fires in Michigan and start the rebuilding process.

It takes incredible sacrifice for someone like me to serve in Government. I don’t need the job, I like what I do.

My own excursion into politics was eye opening. Many people in politics make their livings by brokering deals; they are parasites who rely on kick-backs [now or later]. The really dangerous ones are in three piece suits over at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

When I ran for Governor I refused to make any deals. I refused to sell my soul. The consequence was that I received very little help from my own party. To run successfully for governor you have to compromise your soul. As a lawyer defending victims I don’t have to sacrifice my integrity; and even on those rare occasions when I lose, I have a clear conscience.

Although I loved meeting the people of Michigan and touring the State, I just didn’t like the people who populate the “industry” of politics. I didn’t know if I wanted to again spend millions of my own money to get back into that cesspool.

There are two problems we have to deal with in Michigan that transcend political parties. They are structural. The first is that the vast majority of people in office today simply want to get elected because they need the job. That means that government is reactive – not proactive. Politicians wait until a crisis develops before they act because they are afraid. Governors and legislatures don’t take a stand until a consensus develops as the result of a crisis. Otherwise, they might be required to take a stand on an issue that later could hurt their re-election bids.

Professional politicians are self-centered instead of being focused on what’s good for the people. Polls, not principles, drive their actions.

When I ran for Governor I proposed a number of policies that were ridiculed at the time, but have since been adopted after the situation got so bad that we had to act.

I proposed a state-wide medical insurance pool that would have reduced premiums by 30% to individuals and small businesses. I proposed eliminating the small business tax, and ending the prison for profit system. I proposed diversion for non-violent first time, drug offenses. Had those policies been adopted in 1998, we would be in much better shape, but they weren’t “politically attractive” then.

When Jennifer Granholm appointed me chairman of the Film Commission, I proposed the largest tax incentive in the country as a way to attract film makers. Republicans in the legislature ridiculed my proposal. After I left, it was adopted with great success.

The second problem with politics is that as far as the political parties go, they are often a distinction without a difference.

Government has stopped governing for the good of ordinary folks. It has become a tool for big business to make money. The reason why the election of a Democrat or a Republican makes little difference to the everyday lives of most working people is that the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and insurance companies control this State for their own self-interest.

Politicians can argue about ideology all day long, but in the end, the only real difference between the two parties is that most Republicans are nothing more than insurance company shills, and many Democrats aspire to yet another government job. The economic policies of the past 20 years have virtually all been dictated by what’s best for the corporate sponsors of each of the respective camps, not what’s best for the rest of us.

Michigan has the most business friendly laws, tax structure and judiciary in the country, and what real jobs do we have to show for it? At what point do we recognize that forfeiting the future of this State for low wage temporary jobs is not worth it? Less taxes and more business giveaways have bankrupted Michigan; destroyed our infrastructure and destroyed our quality of life.

Under the Republican administration in Michigan [1990 to 2002] we shifted the tax burden from big business to individual citizens. A multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company does not pay a dollar in property taxes, but parents have to pay additional fees and taxes to send their kids to failing schools over third world roads. That’s wrong, it’s unjust. However, if you propose building another prison or starting another war, the Republicans will rush to spend your tax money like drunken sailors.

For the Republicans to now claim that they are worried about the cost of universal health care after spending trillions on the war in Iraq is downright ludicrous. It’s so absurd that it makes me laugh to think that anyone could be that hypocritical and maintain a straight face.

In 1992, Michigan Republicans passed the only law in the country that makes drug companies totally immune from product liability suits for dangerous drugs. What happens then? Pfizer up and leaves the state taking thousands of jobs with it and the ordinary folks of Michigan still have no legal recourse when defective drugs kill their children!

One of the biggest concerns we have is that big business has invested millions of dollars to get activist judges elected or appointed to the bench so that they can serve their corporate masters. How do you explain the fact that four activist Michigan Supreme Court judges, appointed by Mr. Engler, ruled in favor of corporations and against individual citizens in 99% of their cases? That’s not a coincidence.

Judges like Robert Young and Stephen Markman have created a judicial environment in which our most vulnerable citizens cannot get justice. Ultimately, when people know they cannot get justice in Court they will take justice into their own hands. We have to move now to restore integrity to the Michigan Judicial system.

Lansing has sold the farm to big business and bankrupted the State as a consequence. Offering tax exemptions to corporations has not produced any lasting benefit to our state. Tax breaks are a means for the wealthy to get richer at the expense of ordinary folks.

The few jobs that are created by tax breaks [many of which turn out to be temporary], are not sufficient to offset the lost tax revenue. Prop A has destroyed our public school system in Michigan. There’s nothing wrong with a business making profits, but it cannot be at the expense of the lives of Michigan citizens, or our environment.

There are a few good Democrats in the mix right now. Virj Benero, and Andy Dillon are outstanding men with correct political positions. I know I’ve poked fun at Rick Synder, but at least he is focusing on real problems and making proposals that aren’t just focus-group driven dribble. And, he doesn’t need a job.

The other Republican candidates offer nothing more than the same. Their names read like a list of wannabes, in need of a new government job, with not a shred of ingenuity or talent among them.

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12 Responses to Why I Didn’t Run

  1. Ryan says:

    Mr. Fieger,
    My name is Ryan. I am an ordinary citizen in the State of Michigan. I’ve been thinking about moving for sometime now out of state. I’m 31 years old and I still don’t see any improvements to this state in the last 5 years. I currently haven’t had a drivers License in the last 7 years because of the crazy hoops and endless money i have to dish out to get it. What I did 8 years ago getting my 2nd drunk driving was wrong and inmature. By making it so hard to get it back people are not buying cars. A lack of public transportation cant get me back and forth to work. I am lucky to have a job. Something needs to be done. I am a Michigan guy through and through. These idiots that run for office don’t care about the people. YOu should run for governor or tell me who is right for the job. This state is so depressed now. I work at a for profit college and I hear sad stories of people losing there jobs and homes. Then I have to turn around and tell them why they should invest so much money into there education. The price of college is crazy right now. The school where I recruit at charges $500 per credit hour for a 96 credit hour degree. Do the math. What happened to this state and country? Why are people so greedy? I just wish a guy like you could step up and make a change. If not you then who else will. You don’t understand that if you lead so many will follow. Thank you for your time.
    Ryan

  2. Jethro says:

    How can anyone argue with your logic? I only wish we had media outlets that would report how this state collapsed for the very reasons you cited. During the reign of terror from 1990 until 2002 this state committed social and economic suicide. Engler boasted of enacting 62 tax cuts and the Republicans keep saying that if you reduce taxes and the financial burden on business, jobs will be created. If that is correct why did the state loose 300,000 jobs in Engler’s last 2 1/2 years in office? When he left the state unemployment rate was near 6.5% and soaring. He left Granholm with an impossible structual deficit because he spent surplusses to cover the deficits his administration was incurring. Yet the media gave him a pass. Despicable and Disgusting!

  3. Infamous Green says:

    Greetings Mr. Fieger,

    What is your stance on the current Michigan Medical Marijuana laws? Could proper regulation lead to a much needed boost to the Michigan economy, and help decriminalize law abiding citizens who, choose to use this “alternative medicine” as a means to alleviate the stresses of serious medical conditions, find a potential stream of income to help decrease dependance on corporations, create jobs, and increase the tax base?

  4. Kelly Rohan says:

    Mr. Fieger:
    Living in the metro area, I have often heard your name over the last decade and I have observed your career flourish as you became a ‘voice of Detroit.’ I have not always agreed with you, but I have always respected the manner in which you were committed, to what I believed to be, the common good. I was excited about your potential candidacy for public office and in turn, disappointed when you decided not to run; however, given your performance this past week that regret is much diminished.

    I am so disappointed in you — that you could turn the tragic death of that 7-year old girl into a flash point of racial tension and accusations of police corruption. What are you thinking? You know what these cops face every day. This is a cop’s worst nightmare – to shoot and kill an innocent bystander,– much less a child. Is this to be the defining moment of this Officer’s career?

    For all of the headlines and finger pointing with which you so effectively manipulate the media, where is the discussion about the house that was raided and the people in it? Do not misunderstand me, nothing can compensate for the loss of that innocent child. Yet some responsibility must fall to the adults in that child’s life and accountability for the people they associated with, and the activities in which they were involved.

    Everyone loses in this situation. The current desperate economic situation in Detroit, and the need people have to take out their frustrations on what they perceive to be the cause (authority in general,- and the police officers involved in this tragedy — in particular) has reached a dangerous level. We just don’t need this right now. This event was not about race, or police corruption, or police brutality. It was a tragic accident. We don’t need to be divided. I hope you think carefully about the implications of your actions and statements regarding this case: there is a lot more here at stake then your career, but given what has thus far occurred, I’m not at all sure you understand that.

    Respectfully,
    Kelly Rohan

  5. Michael connelly says:

    Nothing is at it appears in politics, agendas rule and posturing is the art form to feather whatever nests happen to be in play at the time. The people are out of the equation, this we know as you well say. Here in Venice, Fl. recently a county sheriff shot and killed a high school prankster who rang his door bell during a night of foolish frolic. The sheriff is being defended by his bosses and the people are up in arms. I am from Michigan, and saddened to see its demise. Good luck in restoring sanity up there.

  6. Greetings Attorney Fieger,
    Hope this email finds you and your family in the best of health and spirits.
    I must admit I was disappointed that you didn’t run for governor. Our region needs strong leaders that will not compromise their integrity such as you. There is so much social injustice for the working poor and poor in this country, especially Michigan. As you are aware Detroit is the poorest city in the US. The working class and poor people suffer the most. For example, all the people (16) that have died in house fires due to the shut-off policies of DTE Energy. People have to have basic essentials to exist in our civil society. Gas, electricity and water are human rights aren’t they?
    I was looking forward to you putting an end to the Michigan Public Utility Commission they are in bed with DTE. If a person complains to the MPSC nothing happens. We need a class action law suite on DTE
    Energy.
    I like you a lot Attorney Fieger, you have a lot of swag and the courage of the lion. The exterior of your office is fabulous. I wish I had your life style. Continue to take care of your family, God bless.

  7. judy steel says:

    Time to step up to the plate and become our next governor. The line up is scary!

  8. You Should Have Run For Gov Change Some These Stupid Laws

  9. janice says:

    Perhaps you and many others will not even have the opportunity in the future to run for certian offices. The 2010 Census run from the Detroit office is a complete mess. Thousands of people will go uncounted. There is corruption, discrimination, wrongful terminations, and mass falsification across the board. I know I am a census employee and I have witnessed and documented many wrongdoings. The fate of two wrongfully terminated employees are being decided. Their termination was racially based. I was on http://www.mytwocensus.com and noted that New York employees filed a class action law suit, and Orlando Census workers walked off the job. How long before Michigan Census will be unable to quell the uprising? More importantly will political seats be lost because of these issues?

  10. Hey Geoffrey, Great article. My style is more Hunter Thompson. Please check it out. I got the one about euthanasia published as a freshman in college, Grand Valley State, Allendale, MI. I’ll have to write one about the day I met you in GR while you were campaigning for Gov. My old boss, Frank Borgia and I had a great time and pulled off a slick one that day. Check back. And I am deeply sorry about your bro. Lost mine to med negligence at 24 years old. If I were you I would look for a link to the use of DDT. Rachael Carson. Suburban Detroit.

  11. Michael Connelly says:

    What you are really saying is you didn’t think you could do anything to help the people, that’s why you didn’t run. Nobody redeems anyone but their God, but some can make a difference, your excuse is weak, sorry. Yes, oh noble one you are so above the fray. Please just embrace your great career and skip the excuses for not running, it would be more honest. The name of your blog says it all. Lou Pearlman used to say the same thing by the way. Politics sucks by its very nature, surely you had a glimpse of it in your practice over the years. Why such an eye opener now? There are few more hidious cesspools than a courtroom as you well know, the difference there being the results are slightly more controlled by merit. Enjoy the spotlight Geoffrey. Why not?

  12. InYourFaceNewYorker says:

    Republicans love starting wars!

    Recently, I was talking to my father about how it was a shame that the Neanderthal (another species of human) went extinct and how interesting it would be if it were around today. But I said, “Then again, if racism is a problem then imagine what it would be like with two species of humans!” My father said, “Especially if that species has lower intelligence.” I said, “Actually, some scientists think that Neanderthals might have been more intelligent.” My father said, “Oh, they didn’t have Republicans starting wars?” :)

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