Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Today are the presidential primaries in Michigan. I avoid the news for weeks before the elections because I become a nervous wreck after I study the candidates, realize that they are all dishonest puppets with purely selfish motives, and then further realize that one of them is going to lead this country at a time when we really need a leader.
However, I am an adult and I am supposed to vote for the candidate that I think will do the best job. So, I started reading some newpaper articles this morning and I am no longer nervous. I am terrified. I read an article in the LA times (can you imagine LA actually talking about Detroit? there's a first) that honestly outlined the economic state of Michigan. This is something the Detroit newspapers avoid. Michigan is not experiencing a recession but rather a 1930's style depression. 30,000 people left the state in the past 6 months and that number is growing. Unemployment is at 7.5% and climbing. I can't see any hope for a turnaround in the next several decades.
As I look at the grim picture, I realize for the first time how living in this highly industrialized state has molded my view of the economy. I grew up in a factory town and, when I was about 6-7, an announcement was made that the plant would shut down. It was devastating news. Thousands of people lost their jobs, packed up, and moved to Texas. I have no idea why Texas was the place to move, but everyone seemed to know they needed to go there to survive. It was sad to see family and friends move away, but the ghost town depression that remained with those of us who were left behind was worse. It was very clear to me that the ECONOMY was this big, huge thing that had all the power and it could whimsically decide to crush you and your friends and neighbors. It was very important to pay close attention to the ECONOMY so you could predict it's next move and possibly avoid that slaughter. I tried to pay attention.
So, I watched the news and managed to grasp that a recession was occurring and the dollar was weak (what??) so the government couldn't just print more money and increase spending to save us from the recession. It took a year of news and a lot of questions to my father to assemble this concept. I grew nervous because the more I watched the news the more it seemed there were no answers. I lost focus on the news and adjusted to being a kid in a ghost town. Then, the ECONOMY changed when I wasn't looking. The recession went away and a Japanese automaker bought the empty factory and the empty houses were filled. Since I had been ignoring the news, I asked my father if the situation was fixed. No, he replied. It may look better for now, but corrupt and demanding unions will continue to force the production of cars at prices that cannot compete in an increasingly global economy (what??). My father has several degrees and liked to read. The translation: the ECONOMY will attack again.
So, here it is. Another slaughter by the ECONOMY. It feels quite familiar for those of us who are lifetime residents of southeast Michigan. I am not surprised, but I am saddened and scared. And little confused. When Senator McCain suggested that we do what we should have done 25 years ago and try to recruit other types of jobs and industry to Michigan to replace the dying automotive industry (aka build stronger ECONOMY through education and diversity), why did my friends and neighbors freak out? I guess I'm not as scared by the ECONOMY as I am by the MENTALITY.

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