Archive for August, 2023

Relax! The Glass Is Half-Empty!

Relax! The Glass Is Half-Empty!

So, there were two PFAS-related stories this past week in Michigan — one positive, one less than positive.

The first story:

The U.S. military has agreed to install groundwater treatment systems to stop the flow of PFAS contamination around the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda — a move hailed by politicians and local advocates.

The decision, first announced in Oscoda Wednesday, is seen as a first-in-the-nation step by the U.S. Defense Department to take quicker action to contain the compound from spreading, and follows years of criticism from local and state officials about the commitment and pace of military efforts to address the environmental harm.

Hey, you don’t hear this often, but, “Good on ya, Defense Department! We appreciate you stepping up to do the right thing.”

Naturally, as an editorial cartoonist, I decided to address the second story:

A new state appeals court ruling would kill Michigan’s restrictions on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) levels in drinking water, if left standing.

The 2-1 ruling stems from a 2021 lawsuit by Minneapolis-based chemical manufacturer 3M, which argued Michigan’s process to develop drinking water standards was “rushed and invalid.”

To which 3M stockholders not living in Michigan say, “Good on ya, 3M! We appreciate you stepping up to do the right thing.”


Michiganders Don’t Need Much

Michiganders Don't Need Much

Full disclosure: I am not a Detroit Lions supporter. My team has always been the San Francisco 49ers. Or at least since I was 6 years old and I arbitrarily decided I liked their helmet the best on the side panel of my electric football game. (There is a deeper discussion here about the just how capricious tribalism can be, but that’s for another day).

However, if not all, most Michiganders are Lions fans, and there is definitely a positive vibe going on this year. Some of it is measurable — season tickets sold out this year for the first time in Ford Field history! But mostly what I’ve detected is an underlying current. It’s optimism, but an optimism that’s unique to Lions fans. Cautious optimism is much too mild. It’s more like hopefulness but without even a trace of positive expectations. (It comes from suffering a LOT of disappointment).

In any case, there are lots of terrible things going on in the world. There always are, of course. Still, the news of war, floods, fires, indictments, etc., seem to be hitting especially hard of late. You can’t blame Lions fans for allowing themselves to be hopeful about something.

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Common Folks Banding Together

Common Folks Banding Together

It’s a natural impulse for individuals to band together to defend themselves from a common, more powerful foe. Actually, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a foe — just a group or a person (the Supreme Court says corporations are people) who will not otherwise keep the best interests of individuals in mind in their decisions.

It is this natural impulse that drives the creation of both labor unions and boycotts, both as means of negotiating with and defending against corporate decision-making. It’s curious to me that this is often where similarities end.

As the United Auto Workers begins contract negotiations with automakers, they are seeking a better deal, especially for workers manufacturing batteries for EVs. As groups of conservatives continue to prosecute their battles with so-called woke businesses, they are seeking …a reason to quit drinking crappy beer?


But Can You Afford the Insurance?

But Can You Afford the Insurance?

On one hand, we have Governor Gretchen Whitmer, state politicians of all stripes, business leaders, educators, and community activists all brooding over Michigan’s population stagnation and what can be done to keep our youth from moving out of state.

On the other hand, we have a state that more or less requires young people to own a reliable automobile to functionally live here and then burdens them with sky-high insurance rates.

Adding insult (and potential bankruptcy) to injury, those rates no longer provide protection to survivors of catastrophic crashes, although this week’s Michigan Supreme Court decision did at least protect those injured before the 2019 no-fault reform was put into effect. But that’s not gonna help young people just starting out in Michigan.

Perhaps it’s time for the one hand to figure out what the other hand is doing.