THE TAX ATTIC with Jerry Coon

Will Michigan catch a break?

Jerry Coon

I had never met Jim Northrup, but he plays a part in one of my most vivid memories. The Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals were playing the seventh game of the 1968 World Series. The Series was tied three games for each team, so it was winner- take-all for baseball’s World’s Championship. The Cardinals pitcher was Bob Gibson, arguably the best pitcher in the National League and having the best year of his 17-year career. The Tigers pitcher was Mickey Lolich, their second best pitcher after Denny McClain. Gibson had already beaten Detroit twice in the Series and had made them look like a high school team while doing it.

It didn’t look good for Detroit. Gibson had struck out an unbelievable, record-setting, 27 batters in those two earlier games. I believe it was in the first game that Norm Cash, Detroit’s first baseman, threatened to go up to bat with a chair leg instead of a regulation bat. He later said it didn’t make any difference what he used, because he couldn’t hit Gibson anyway. Cash wasn’t a poor hitter either—just seven years earlier he led the league in hitting at .361.

As the seventh game wore on, neither team had scored when Northrup came up to bat in the seventh inning with two runners on. He hit a solid line drive right at Curt Flood, the Cardinal’s All Star center fielder. Flood misjudged the ball and it sailed over his head, resulting in a triple for Northrup. Two runs scored. That was the break Detroit needed and the Tigers went on to win 4-1.

I can close my eyes and see that play like it was yesterday. Jim swings and Flood almost spins out of his shoes once he realizes it’s over his head. It was wonderful. I will remember that scene as long as I live.

Jim Northrup passed away last week at 71 years of age. He suffered from Alzheimer’s and other ailments. Thanks for the memory, Jim. I won’t forget you and I offer my condolences to your family.

Some things, like baseball games, are very straightforward. There is an event, an effect, and a result. Northrup hits the ball. Curt Flood misplays it. The Tigers win the game. That’s nice and tidy. However, most of the world doesn’t exactly work that way.

There is an event. The event has an effect; one of many possible effects. There is a result, but it also is one of many possible results. The trouble is trying to line up the event, the effect and result to get a desired outcome. For example, our governor and legislature last week passed a balanced budget. That is one heck of an event. They are going to spend $46 billion while taking in $46 billion. That’s a unique event in the deficit-spending politics of today. Spending only what is received has many potential positive effects and potential negative effects as well.

The governor and the legislature are hoping to see a better positive business environment that will create jobs. They are betting their political lives that, by creating jobs while simultaneously not spending more money than is flowing in, the economy will expand. Using the philosophy of a rising tide raises all boats, all of us will be better off. It all depends, however, on the proper effect occurring along with the proper result.

There are some glitches, of course and one of them is the bad public relations that happened in the mechanics of how the budget became a balanced budget. Corporate taxes were cut while individual taxes were increased. That is a recipe for bad publicity if there ever was one.

What we all tend to forget, however, is that corporations don’t really pay taxes. They build the cost of taxes into their product and just pass it along to us, the consumers. When their taxes go up, their prices go up. When their taxes go down, they have more cash left in their coffers. Now, they have choices of what to do with that cash. They can cut their prices. They can give it to their shareholders as dividends. They can expand their business resulting in job creation. Everyone is hoping for door number three, so to speak. If the correct effect occurs and door number three is opened, the result will be that the economy will expand.

We are all hoping the correct sequence of events, effects and results occur. The Republicans are probably praying that Michigan, like the 1968 Tigers, finally catches a break. We are due. This is Jerry Coon signing off.


Jerry Coon is an Enrolled Agent. He owns Action Tax Service on Northland Drive in Rockford. Contact Jerry at


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