Archive for April, 2021

Great Lakes States and the 2020 Census

Great Lakes States and the 2020 Census

If there was one good thing that came out of the Great Recession, it’s that it finally made Michigan and the industrial midwest come to terms with reality: The massive employment from living wage manufacturing was not coming back. No state, no country, no town was going to be magically turned around by some new assembly plant. That was the old model. It was fun while it lasted, but that era is definitely over.

As a consequence, Michigan lost population. Actually in this past decade we started to gain population again, just not as fast as some other states in the south and west. But now we have the opportunity to build on some of our strengths.

The cartoon is an exaggeration (as most cartoons are). But clearly our biggest advantage is our unique abundance of fresh water — lakes (great and otherwise), springs, rain, lots and lots of snow — we’ve got it all. And as climate change goes on, it’s just going to make us more attractive. Taking the lead in guaranteeing safe drinking water would be an obvious additional way to (as the business folks say) leverage our advantage.

Our manufacturing legacy also provides us with another distinct edge. We know how to make stuff. A little more emphasis on supporting trades and applied technology, and — boom! — we’re a magnet attracting living wage jobs and creative industries.

If we want our representatives back, we’re gonna need new residents: Immigrants. Yet another advantage — we’ve grown like this before! (Both with people from other countries and by the Great Migration.) Immigrants bring new ideas, new energy, and new opportunity, especially to depleted cities and rural communities.

Also, we have the best beer.


You Gotta Make Sure He Pulls Through, Doc…

You Gotta Make Sure He Pulls Through, Doc...

I hate to provide the man with any additional media attention, but Michigan’s own Ted Nugent was in the news this week having recently proclaimed that COVID-19 was not real and shortly thereafter announcing he contracted it (and, as advertised, it was not pleasant for him). No additional comment.

Also recently, it was disclosed that Governor Whitmer had travelled to Florida before being vaccinated. This also pinged my hypocrisy meter, but it turns out Whitmer was visiting her elderly father who is battling a chronic illness. Also, for somebody who has credibly been threatened by kidnapping plots, it’s understandable why she kept this visit unannounced, even though she’s a public figure.

However, her declining to criticize Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel for a spring vacation trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama — that’s some pretty weak tea.

Look, maybe the only thing we all have in common these days is pandemic fatigue. Certain behaviors (by other people) are simply going to set us off. My bête noire is wearing a mask under your nose. C’mon folks! Whether you believe in the effectiveness of masks or don’t, you’ve had well over a year to find one that fits and can be worn properly. Geez freakin’ louise! 

But the people who have the clearest right to be frustrated at this point are the frontliners in the medical profession. This third wave surge we’ve been experiencing here in Michigan has again pushed hospitals to their breaking points. God bless the support staffs, the nurses, the doctors. And God bless those who are honestly trying to make their jobs less difficult.


Recommendations for Michigan GOP

Bridge Michigan has done an excellent job of summarizing the voting plan that the Michigan GOP are proposing. They compare this plan with the package recently put into law in Georgia. It’s a good way to get some context because there has been a lot of exaggeration and misinterpretation.

These packages aren’t entirely bad. But contain plenty of bad that either directly or as a consequence will suppress votes. Regardless, I think the biggest reasons to question the motivations of the Michigan GOP is that (1) the 2018 and 2020 elections did not go their way and (2) it has been verified over and over (and over) that those elections were extremely well run and without fraud. So a significant package of ambitious legislation for something that wasn’t an actual problem raises some red flags.

When you put that together with the aggressive way the Michigan GOP has fought against independent redistricting commissions to prevent gerrymandering, it’s fairly clear that their first priority is power, not advocating for fair elections.

These tactics are, of course, not unique to the Michigan GOP or Republicans in general. Illinois and Maryland are pretty good examples of where the Democratic Party has prioritized their own power over their state’s citizens. But much in the same way I feel about Georgia, I live here in Michigan and want our elections to best reflect the interests and values all Michiganders.


Pro Sports Are Dead to Me

My brother-in-law is a Michigan State grad and a huge fan of Spartans sports teams. Several years ago, he was watching a men’s basketball game that happened to be on TV later in the evening. His older two children were very much from the same mold — dedicated fans that bled Spartan green. His youngest never had an active interest in MSU or sports in general. But noticing that his older siblings were getting to stay up past bedtime, he expressed a sudden interest in the game.

His Dad said, “If you can name just one player on the Michigan State team, I’ll let you stay up.”

He pondered and searched his archives and then ventured, “Um… LeBron James?”

He was summarily sent off to bed.

So, if you happen be like the older kids, the cartoon (and this little story) likely don’t need additional explanation. But if you’re like the youngest, you may need to know that for the past few years (and in the Lions’ case, forever), the major professional sports teams from Detroit has been absolutely terrible. To the point of wearing down even the hardest of hardcore fans.

Also, you should know that LeBron James not only never played college basketball, he was well into his professional basketball career when my nephew tried to pass him off as a Spartan.


Correlation Does not Imply Causation

Last week, a video went public of Michigan state GOP Chairman Ron Weiser addressing the North Oakland Republican Club. In his remarks, Weiser made reference to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel collectively as “three witches.”

Clearly Weiser was playing to the crowd (with this and other ill-advised comments). And, yes, he has apologized, but you have to wonder whether he would have if his seat on the University of Michigan Board of Regents wasn’t at stake. Still, he said what he said. Why? The most charitable reason I can come up with is that he just didn’t think it through.

Cut to the news this week about Michigan’s spike in COVID-19 cases. I’ve heard and read plenty of confident decrees that this proof that our state’s response to the pandemic has been a complete failure and that everybody should immediately do whatever the heck they want. We can all understand the impulse — we all want this to be over. But how many of these bold proclamations come not from impulse but careful consideration? Likely not many.

Admittedly, “correlation does not imply causation” is an awfully smartypants way of saying “you should probably think that through first.” But I have given it some thought, and that’s what I mean.