The Dirty Little Secret About the Opposition to Advanced Manufacturing Jobs in Michigan

Here is the dirty little secret about the grassroots opposition to locating high-tech jobs in Michigan—it’s entirely fake. Like ginormous silicone implants of political chicanery. So fake and manufactured that it would fit right in at the buffet and photo line at Mar-a-Lago.

Nothing in politics happens without money. The only question is whether or not the sources of that money are disclosed. In most of these supposed local zoning battles, they aren’t. That has certainly been the case with the coordinated campaigns to thwart the zoning and construction of advanced manufacturing facilities near Big Rapids, Marshall, and Lansing (Eagle).

It is often obvious whose money is behind an effort even when the funding isn’t disclosed. In political campaigns, dark money comes from partisan, ideological, or corporate donors who don’t want exposure. In public policy tussles, the cash comes from combatants who stand to gain or lose. Think Big Pharma and the struggle to cap prescription costs. Efforts to scuttle wind or solar power generation can be presumed to originate from the coal and gas industries.

But who would benefit if billions of dollars of investment and thousands of high-paying jobs in advanced battery or chip manufacturing economic development projects slated for Michigan implode? Perhaps it might be competitor locations in Indiana, Tennessee, or Illinois. However, those localities encounter the same ‘grassroots’ opposition to locating facilities in those states. In Michigan and elsewhere, many of these anti-economic development campaigns have mounted ‘China is the boogeyman’ PR messaging as they build what they present as organic local opposition. Don’t let Chinese companies locate here has become a standard refrain.

The irony is that China and CCP-related companies are the most obvious beneficiaries if these efforts to bring investment and jobs to Michigan or other states are stymied. That’s right. Chinese companies are conceivably the culprits behind the anti-China rhetoric surrounding these siting battles. China isn’t at all interested in seeing critical high-tech components of the American supply chain relocate to the U.S. The Chinese think the status quo is swell. They won’t mind at all if Gotion’s billions stay in China, along with the thousands of jobs otherwise slated for the Big Rapids area. Xi and the oligarchy in charge would rather Ford invest electric battery dollars and jobs in China instead of Marshall, Michigan.

Tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars spread around small rural Michigan towns toward this goal is a pittance. For relatively paltry sums, they’d be convincing people to act against their own financial best interests simply by tapping into the populist and xenophobic current already surging through MAGA America.

So, while rube politicians in Michigan are railing against billions of dollars of economic investment and thousands of high-wage jobs that would benefit the Mitten State because “the Chinese” are involved, you can bet there is a high probability those same Chinese are greasing the political skids in rural Michigan – and laughing all the way to the banks in China.

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