SPARTANS IN THE SHADOW OF DEPAUL. The Detroit News (motto: Read all about it on Wednesday or Sunday) discovers where Michigan's graduates are going.

Green-and-white Spartan flags fly in the doorway of O'Malley's West. A neon MSU football helmet perches above the bar. Autographed jerseys of Mateen Cleaves, who led the school to its last NCAA basketball title, and former quarterback Drew Stanton hang on the walls near a big-screen TV that always shows MSU games.

One of the most die-hard Spartan sports bars is west of campus -- 225 miles west, in the trendy Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago.

There are more recent MSU grads in Chicago than in any other metro area -- including any community in Michigan. While the Windy City has always been a destination for Spartan grads, the number going there -- and other vibrant urban centers such as Minneapolis and New York -- is growing.

That's not far from Earl of Perth. Come summer, a little exploration might be in order.

Michigan policymakers view the brain drain as a problem. Perhaps a primer on gains from trade is in order.

The biggest beneficiaries of [Democratic governor Jennifer] Granholm's efforts so far have been states like Washington, where officials bluntly describe the influx of thousands of college-educated workers from Michigan as a cost-effective approach to education.

"That we can attract those people (with degrees) is a benefit to the state," said Washington state Rep. Glenn Anderson, the ranking Republican on the higher education committee. "We are importing intellectual capital at a very low cost to ourselves."

So many college grads have flooded into Washington to work for companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, that Anderson has had trouble pushing for increased higher education funding for in-state students.

Indeed, since 2000, Washington has jumped from 18th to 12th in the nation in the percentage of adults with a degree. Michigan fell from 30th to 35th.

Michigan exports human capital to Washington. Washington exports jet planes and computer software to Michigan. If Washington's products improve life, including work life, of Michigan's residents, the proportion of adults with degrees in Michigan does not have to signal a decline in the economic health of Michigan. (Perhaps that's reliving history: what was Michigan's position in that list in 1925 or in 1945?)

I've been making this point for years. Wisconsin policy makers still don't understand it. Neither, apparently, do Michigan's.

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