Archive for Uncategorized

You Know What’d Be Really Nice?

You Know What'd Be Really Nice?

I like the idea of electing leaders who see the value of good governance, but I’m more afraid of those willing (even enthused) about burning the whole house down.

I like the idea of passing laws that ensure all people (especially women) have access to affordable, high-quality health care, but I’m more afraid of the zealots and ideologues intent on doing or saying anything to prevent that.

I like the idea of making voting as accessible as possible, but I’m more afraid of how dedicated supporters of the Big Lie are continuously attempting to undermine that.

I like the idea of candidates capable of being open-minded and admitting mistakes, but I’m more afraid of those who will always put party and self-interest first.

I like the idea of supporting democracy, but I’m more afraid of how it can be whittled away and replaced by authoritarianism.

Comments

Well Actually, It’s a Constitutional Republic

Well Actually, It's a Constitutional Republic

Back in 2004, there was that ballot proposal in Michigan to define marriage as between one man and one woman. It passed handily and forever forbade gay marriage per the Michigan constitution. Until it was overturned (overruled? superseded? made null and void? I’m not sure the right terminology) a decade later when same-sex marriage was legalized for the United States as a whole.

The arguments for the ban tended along the lines of “the majority of people don’t approve of gay marriage, and the majority rules, bub. That’s how democracies work!” My smartypants, “well, actually” response: “But we live in a constitutional republic, not a democracy.” Technically correct, sure. But underneath that, the actual point — popularity doesn’t automatically make something right.

These days I’m seeing the “constitutional republic” argument being used more and more. Not just in cases of gay rights, but issues surrounding abortion access, gun violence, healthcare access, and so on. Curiously, the argument seems especially popular with those who not too long ago were vehement proponents of “majority rules.” Again, technically they are not wrong. I am just questioning their apparent flexibility. It was fine to impose their values on others when in the majority, but awfully convenient that they see those same values as constitutionally protected now that they are in the minority.

It is, of course, natural to want to bend the rule of law to meet a desired outcome. (Making “states’ rights” mean what we want them to mean is something of a national pastime.) But it shouldn’t be a convenient default.

Comments

Root Causes of Employee Stress

Root Causes of Employee Stress

Ford Motor Co. announced this week that it plans to let go 3,000 white-collar workers, many of whom live in Michigan. In the olden days (pre-Great Recession), a move like this would have been hard to understand. Generally companies didn’t start shedding white-collar workers until they were actually losing money. Ford is highly profitable at the moment and sitting on tons of cash. Also, Ford and other automobile manufacturers have been very clear about their need to attract and retain talent to ensure their success.

But now, the rationale is that the company is preparing itself for (1) a major shift to EV production and (2) anticipated economic volatility. Agree or disagree with the cuts, Ford is acting proactively for itself and its shareholders, and maybe even to the benefit of many of the affected workers (depending on the quality of the severance packages).

However, for the Ford workers who remain, stress levels are likely to move up a notch or two. Your employer has just demonstrated that they are perfectly willing to sacrifice you. I mean, it’s 2022, and none of this is a surprise. But all the same, it feels very much like “The Princess Bride” and what the Dread Pirate Roberts used to say Westley at the end of each day: “Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”

Comments (1)

The Secret Life of Dar Leaf Mitty

The Secret Life of Dar Leaf Mitty

I suppose I am as prone to entertaining myself with Walter Mitty-like fantasies as the next guy. For me, they tend to be sports related: a relief pitcher with a 110 mph cutter, a skilled shooting guard but with the shot-blocking instincts of Bill Russell, a world-class 200 meter sprinter. (No additional qualifications for that last one — I just like to imagine flying around that turn at super-human speed!)

All perfectly healthy. But where I think it can get dangerous is when guys (and it’s usually guys) attempt to cross their fantasies over into reality. I mean, it’s fun to watch Patrick Swayze in “Road House,” but it would be a terrible idea to try to be Patrick Swayze in “Road House,” right? So many punches to the face!

Another terrible idea would be to take it upon yourself to prove the 2020 elections were rigged by perusing your own investigation based entirely on what you want to believe and then confiscating voting machines. This is what Barry County Sheriff, Dar Leaf, has been up to. That’s scary enough, but what’s terrifying is likely Republican candidate for Michigan Attorney General, Matthew DePerno, also apparently playing that game.

Guys, enough with the Big Lie-fueled fantasies! Maybe try instead: “The quarterback who leads the Detroit Lions to their first Super Bowl victory.” That’d be an impossible dream worth dreaming.

Comments

Recipe for Disaster

Recipe for Disaster

So now we can add “Buffalo” and “supermarkets” to the long list of instantly recognizable words associated with mass shooting incidents in America. At this point, I don’t even know how to feel about it. Disgusted? Disillusioned? Distraught? All of the above?

It’s certainly not optimism. Although, at least the Oxford, Michigan School Board came to its senses and is allowing a third-party investigation of their shooting incident (keywords: “Oxford” and “school”). It’s a pretty low bar, but when it comes to gun violence in America, at least it’s something. But is it something we can build on?

Comments

End of School Mask Mandates

End of School Mask Mandates

Nearly two years into this pandemic, I remain mystified at the intense emotions around masks.

I mean, I get that people in general do not like to be told what to do, and when something is added that was previously not on the list, pushback is inevitable. It is somewhat comforting to know that 100 years ago there was over-the-top vitriol directed at mask-wearing in the last major flu event.

But it’s also disheartening to realize that we haven’t progressed beyond folks who thought prohibiting alcohol was a workable idea and giving women the right to vote was a difficult decision.

Mask mandates are quickly coming to an end at schools all across Michigan.

The happy news — the news we should all be focusing on — is that the omicron variant is quickly dissipating, which means FEWER infections and FEWER health issues. So there is less need for masks, especially for those who are vaccinated. Huzzah!

Instead, much of the news is framed as a pro- and anti-mask mandate issue. Who won? Who lost? Will this fire up the base? How will this affect the elections? How will we know who to scream at next time we’re at Meijer?

It would be nice someday not to consider public health decisions as some sort of sport REQUIRING US to choose sides. But in the great flu pandemic of 2122, I suspect it will be exactly the same.

Comments

This Is Exhausting!

This Is Exhausting!

Ben Folds’ song “All You Can Eat” is a scathing critique of human behavior, specifically the American variety: 

See that a—— with the peace sign on his license plate?
Giving me the finger and running me out of his lane
God made us number one because he loves us the best
Well he should go bless someone else for a while
Give us a rest

The thing I like best about it is that Folds doesn’t pull any punches. He’s not going after a particular “side” — he’s just listing out his grievances, whether it’s professed peaceniks lapsing into violence or the self-righteous who confuse tribalism with holiness. He’s calling us out on our, um, stuff.

And that’s kind of the theme for this week’s cartoon. This particular example happens to be about the shortage of semiconductor chips that could cause 100,000 less vehicles to be built in North America this year. The same people who extoll the virtues of free market capitalism seem to be the first to demand government intervention. But only if it won’t provide a political advantage to somebody they don’t like.

We all have done stuff like that at one time or another — say one thing, do another. Truly, it can be exhausting.

Comments

Rights and Responsibilities

Rights and Responsibilities

I have a life hack for you. It applies mostly to guys (at least that has been my experience), but I think everybody could find it useful. Here it is: If you are ever in a situation where people are encouraging you to do something by telling you “don’t be a p—-y,” then don’t do it. In other words, never do what they are encouraging you to do. Simple, right? Not following their advice is 100% always the right choice.

Now, there will be instances in life when you’ll be advised to step up, take responsibility, even “be a man.” Sometimes those giving the advice will have your best interests in heart, and you can at least consider taking it. But if they say “don’t be a p—-y,” yeah, they don’t care about you.

Here’s a similar one: People who talk only rights but never responsibilities are better off not being listened to. What they are saying is all about them and nothing about you (or anybody else really).

I didn’t come up with the rights/responsibilities life hack myself. It’s from a podcast I heard recently, but it might as well have been from a high school civics course. Citizens taking care to exercise their rights responsibly is a basic tenant on which democracies depend to function properly. 

Also, don’t drink bleach. That’s another good one.

Comments

Mr Snyder Goes to Washington

Mr Snyder Goes to Washington

Have you ever had to endure an interview for a job you knew that you were not going to get? Or an audition for a part in a show that you were certain was going to go to somebody else? You had absolutely no chance but you were obligated somehow to go through the motions anyway.

That’s how I imagine it was for Governor Snyder when he was in Washington DC recently trying to convince his Republican colleagues to keep the Medicaid expansion of the ACA (Obamacare). In Michigan, that expansion is known as Healthy Michigan, and there are approximately 650,000 Michiganders who depend on it for insurance. The current Republican plan, the ACHA (Trumpcare), would be the end of Healthy Michigan, and Snyder was trying to point out the social, economic, and political costs of doing that. It’s pretty clear nobody had any intention of listening to him.

But points to Governor Snyder. I mean, I’m not letting him off the hook for the Flint Water Crisis (that’s obvious from the cartoon), but I appreciate the effort. It was good to see him sticking up for Michigan citizens, especially some of the more vulnerable. And even if it was all about money, it was still good to see him playing what used to be a traditional Republican role — defending the option that makes the best economic sense.

It may have been all an exercise in futility, but there are worse fates. I’d much rather be Rick Snyder as a voice nobody is hearing than Paul Ryan as a voice nobody is believing.

Comments