THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- MARCH 3, 2018
I'm an old guy so I have a lot of time on my hands. This gives me the opportunity to spend part of each day perusing the real news. I tend to gravitate to things I previously did not know. At the risk of being presumptuous, perhaps I have discovered some things that you may want to know.
Have you looked at your auto insurance bill lately? You may want to know why it seems to be a tad higher than previous years. “According to The Zebra, an insurance comparison website, the national average cost of car insurance this year is $1,427, a 20 percent increase from 2011. The smallest increase took place in North Carolina, the biggest in Michigan.” All together now: “We're number one, we're number one!”
One of the reasons for the increase is distracted driving, which caused 3,477 deaths and 391,000 injuries in 2015. “According to the Brain Injury Society, those caught distracted while driving had their insurance raised an average of 16 percent last year.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/02/27/auto-insurance-rates-climb-number-cars-distractions-rise/368012002/)
In Michigan, the average annual premium is $2,610. The most expensive city is Detroit and the least expensive is Midland. “Michigan is the most expensive state for car insurance and has had some of the most volatile year-to-year rate changes, with consecutive increases and decreases of more than of 20 percent.” (https://www.thezebra.com/state-of-insurance/auto/2018/)
While you're driving around in your expensively insured car, have you noticed any pungent odors permeating Michigan's air? You may want to know a reason for this. “Michigan's abundant landfills and low fees make it a preferred destination for trash from other states and other countries. The amount of Canadian solid waste imported to Michigan jumped 19 percent from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2017, to nearly 10.6 million cubic yards, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's latest annual solid waste report. That’s enough trash to fill 881,000, three-axle dump trucks. Those dump trucks, lined up bumper-to-bumper, would stretch from Florida’s Atlantic Coast to California’s Pacific Coast and back to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. (https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2018/02/19/canadian-garbage-michigan-landfills-solid-waste/337837002/)
This is happening because Michigan charges 36 cents a ton for trash to allow garbage into the state. By comparison Ohio charges $4.75 per ton. This largesse is largely due to former Michigan Gov. John Engler: “Whose administration supported bond sales to expand landfills in Michigan. Those landfills are largely operated by out-of-state private companies, which don't have to worry about the long-term health and welfare of Michigan.” (https://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/nancy-kaffer/2018/02/22/michigan-canadian-trash/352689002/)
Here's a thought. If Michigan charged the same rate as Ohio it would mean an extra $4.39 per ton. Use that extra money to fix the roads. You know, the ones Canadian garbage trucks use when they make deliveries to Michigan.
While cut-rate garbage flows into Michigan, you may want to know that our intrepid legislators have been hard at work on more important matters. The House passed a bill that makes English the state's official language. We desperately needed this because “the bill's major thrust is to require that all official state documents are produced primarily in English.” But here's the thing. Those documents already are produced in English. Your tax dollars at work. (https://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/nancy-kaffer/2018/02/22/english-official-language-michigan/363997002/)
With news like this it's pretty easy to get frustrated. A report by 24/7 Wall Street confirmed the reasons for some ouf our consternation by compiling a list of America's Twenty Most Hated Companies. “Reviewing a range of information, including major news events from the last year, customer survey results from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, employee reviews on Glassdoor, as well as our own annual customer satisfaction survey, 24/7 Wall St. identified America’s most hated companies.”
The top ten were: 10) Cigna Health Insurance, 9) Spirit Airlines, 8) Vice Media, 7) Sprint, 6) Foxxconn Technology, 5) Electronic Arts, 4)University of Phoenix, 3) the NFL, 2) Fox Entertainment Group, and 1) Equifax. (https://247wallst.com/special-report/2018/01/22/americas-most-hated-companies-5/)
When it comes to frustration, not much surpasses being stuck in a traffic jam. In this regard, you may want to know which cities to avoid if you want smooth sailing. Topping the list was Los Angeles. “LA was the most gridlocked city in the world, with drivers spending 104 hours in congestion during peak time periods. That’s four whole days (plus eight hours) stuck in traffic.”
The “winners” in the traffic congestion derby were: 1) Los Angeles/USA, 2) Moscow/Russia, 3) New York/USA, 4) Sao Paulo/Brazil, 5) San Francisco/USA, 6) Bogota/Colombia, 7) London/UK, 8) Atlanta/USA, 9) Paris/France, and 10) Miami/USA.
Finally, if you expect anything to be done to lessen your frustrations, do not count on the Federal government to lead the way unless you have some deep pockets. You may want to know that according the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics: “Lobbying activity in Washington surged to $3.34 billion last year — its highest level since 2010. 'Lobbyists appear not to have gotten the memo about draining the swamp,' said Sheila Krumholz, the center’s executive director.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/01/26/draining-swamp-dc-lobbying-during-trump-administration-surges-highest-level-7-years/1068627001/)
The top five biggest lobbying spenders were: 1) U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2) National Realtors Association, 3) Business Roundtable, 4) Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and 5) Blue Cross/Blue Shield. (https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?indexType=s&showYear=2017)
These were all things I did not know before I found them lurking in the news. Now I am not sure if knowing these things make me more intelligent or make me want to hide in a corner of my basement. It's a quandary for us all, eh?
Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.