By Noah Graff
Yesterday, Barack Obama visited the Compact Power plant in Holland, Michigan, to attend the groundbreaking of a new plant to produce battery cells for Ford and GM electric vehicles.
The $300 million facility is the ninth factory to begin construction since the administration allocated $2.4 billion from the president’s economic stimulus program toward production of advanced batteries and electric vehicles. It is one of two factories in Holland, which together have received $450,000 in grants from the U.S. government.
The factory that broke ground Thursday will employ 400 people, in 18 months. It and others like it could be a decent starting point to jumpstart economic growth in Michigan. In five years, officials say, the government subsidized plants will be making batteries for 500,000 new cars a year and will cost 70 percent less.
The Holland area happens to have a large Tea Party movement. They have come out with a mixed reaction to the government stimulus and the President’s visit. Jim Chiodo, a Tea Party leader in Holland, said that he has nothing against the jobs that the plant will provide the town. But says he doesn’t believe it’s up to the government to pick and choose which towns get help.
“For every winner, there’s 10 losers,” Chiodo says. “It’s really, really hard to take a position that’s against your hometown. And I’m not against my hometown. I love Holland. I’ve been here 25 years. It’s a great town. But it’s going to hurt towns like Holland when this gravy train gets turned off.”
If that’s all Chiodo can say to criticize the stimulus program, he’s having some trouble keeping his Tea Party cred in my book.
I’ve always been a big fan of analogies, here’s what I came up with in response to that criticism.
Is it fair for one guy on dialysis to get a kidney transplant while another guy who needs one dies because he was further down on the list? Of course not. So does that mean nobody should get a new kidney then? Take this further now, what if you knew that the guy who was lucky enough to receive the kidney was an amazing doctor who had a good chance to help prevent others from having kidney problems like his own. And, what if the only way the doctor could get the kidney fast enough to survive was with help from an arrogant, socialist, idiotic president who had no experience with kidney problems?
One could say that Holland and lot of towns in Michigan are on economic dialysis. I’m not sure how doing nothing “Tea Party style” can save it and places like it.
Question: Should the Obama administration not have helped build the battery factory in Holland, Michigan?