Archive for August, 2021

Supporting Locally Produced Products

Supporting Locally Produced Products

The goal in Michigan has been for 70% of us 16 and older to have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As of this week, the rate is at 65.2%, which is below that national rate of 73%. So what’s holding us back?

Well, lots of things. Access was a huge problem at the start and still is, especially in Detroit. There continues to be, of course, a great deal of fear ginned up by disinformation campaigns. And there have been functional concerns like for folks working paycheck to paycheck who can’t afford to take a sick day in case they have a reaction.

It’s not for a lack of promotion. The governor and the health department have been consistent in the messaging on the benefits of vaccination both in terms of personal and economic health. And the state has gone to additional lengths. This week an Oakland County woman won the $2 million grand prize in the final round of drawings of the MI Shot to Win COVID-19 vaccine sweepstakes. The Protect Michigan Commission just named nine young winners of $50,000 college scholarships.

What else can we do? Time to take it to the next level and appeal to our pride. A great deal of the Pfizer vaccine is produced in facilities in the Kalamazoo area. If we can tie into the same satisfaction we get from enjoying other locally produced products — fresh fruit, craft beer, pickup trucks, etc. — maybe we can get that vaccination rate to where it needs to be.


C’mon Think People, Think!

C'mon Think People, Think!

Details from the 2020 US Census were released last week, and while Michigan as a whole did better than the last decade, we didn’t do great. Meager growth in population was not enough to avoid losing a congressional seat. Equally important, low population growth means less federal support, which means less money for us. And while some slow-growth states like Kentucky seem to be adept at pulling in more resources than they contribute to these United States, that’s never been a core competency for Michigan.

What to do? What to do? Well, answers may lay in the stats. Let’s start on the rural side. All of the UP’s counties lost population (with Luce Country down 19.5%). Except for one — Houghton County, which managed to gain 2%, largely in thanks to the city of Houghton, which is home to my alma mater, Michigan Tech and the students it attracts.

There was an even wider variance among Michigan cities. Dearborn gained 12% while Flint dropped 20.7% of its population. In a more apples-to-apples comparison, the Detroit enclave of Highland Park lost 23.8% of its people, while neighboring enclave Hamtramck gained 26.8%.

What’s a common denominator? The counties and cities that gained did so by attracting immigrants — newcomers looking to establish new lives and grow communities, many not native-born US citizens, some refugees seeking a chance at a decent and safe life.

So how can Michigan best grow its population (I mean, before everybody gets thirsty and comes here looking for plentiful fresh water)? The same way we grew before: through waves of immigration and migration. And I can’t think of a group of people more eager and perfectly suited to become new Michiganders than the refugees currently motivated to escape from Afghanistan.


Why Do You Have to Make It Political?

Why Do You Have to Make It Political?

I feel like we’re at an advanced level of disinformation — where disinformation can now not only obscure the truth, it can completely replace it.

Case in point (and quoting from a Detroit Free Press story): 

The highest ranking elected Republican in Michigan expects to skip a popular policy conference on Mackinac Island this year because of the organizer mandating attendees be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said the Detroit Regional Chamber “cowed to political science rather than embrac(ing) actual science” by mandating vaccines to attend the Mackinac Policy Conference. The statement contradicts the results of a recent study that indicates the previously infected who remain unvaccinated are at least twice as likely to get COVID-19 again as someone who is vaccinated.

Shirkey does not just imply but openly claims that science is on his side. What he is arguing, of course, has nothing “science” about it — he’s just using the word. But if he can use “science” as his own — just say, “this is science” — then he apparently wins.

Similarly, if you accuse somebody of being political, but you yourself are the one that introduced politics into the discussion, you apparently win that, too.

Please note that I’ve appropriated “winning” here to mean “everybody ends up losing.”

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The End Justifying the Means in Hillsdale

The End Justifying the Means in Hillsdale

Michigan Radio ran a story this week where the city council of Hillsdale, Michigan is considering an ordinance that would basically criminalize anything related to having an abortion within the city limits. Obviously any story about abortions comes packed with visceral feelings and opinions. But what struck me about this particular story was its nuances and complexities (and how it was told).

I encourage you to read the whole article, but briefly, the wife of a Hillsdale city council member asked a Texas-based pastor to come to town to promote his “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn” initiative. She collected signatures of support and brought it up in the public comment portion of a meeting this week. Hillsdale is famously a conservative town, so it was hard to find opposition to the idea itself, but there was plenty of concerns about how it was executed.

What I found most interesting was watching a community determine how far it is willing to go for an end to justify the means. Is it okay to skirt rules, bypass convention, take some shortcuts? And if so, then how about rigging the game, locking down the opposition, declaring rule by fiat? Would that be okay, too? It will be interesting to see how all this plays out in Hillsdale.