How do you convey to people the seriousness of what’s happening to Michigan’s working class?

Why is it that we allow the Republicans to refer to themselves as the anti-tax party, when they keep demonstrating that they clearly aren’t? Sure, they’re all for the cutting of business taxes, inheritance taxes, and other taxes that would threaten to decrease the wealth of their party’s high-net-worth donors, but, invariably, those shifts in tax policy lead to higher taxes for everyone else. Elsewhere around the United States, the shift may not be as plainly visible, but, here, in Michigan, it’s painfully obvious to all but the most delusional among us. As business taxes are being eliminated, and corporate taxes on capital assets are being phased out, the burden of maintaining public services is falling disproportionately on the shoulders of the non-wealthy, and we’re all feeling the increased financial pressure.

In Michigan, income taxes on the poor and middle class are rising, the pensions of our retirees are being taxed, tax credits for the working poor, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), are being slashed, and, with state assistance for higher education drying up, families are going into unprecedented debt in the hopes of securing stable futures for their children. The Republicans may not see all of these as tax increases, but they are. The increased insurance payments that many of us are forced to pay, because our local fire departments are being downsized, is essentially a tax. The same goes for the private school tuition that several of us are paying, rather than suffer through the constrictions of a public school system which is being systematically dismantled. And these few examples are just the tip of the iceberg. The truth is, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for regular working people in Michigan to merely sustain life. Fortunately for those in power, houses aren’t selling. If they were, I suspect that most of us would be gone.

And, as those of us in Ypsilanti can attest, it’s the folks who are living in Michigan’s aging cities that are feeling the brunt of this radical redistribution of wealth. With state revenue sharing for cities dropping precipitously, one-by-one communities are being asked to make the choice — either institute a personal income tax, and pay for our own city services, or submit to the rule of an unelected Emergency Financial Manager, who will be empowered to sell off our community assets at fire sale prices, dismiss our democratically elected officials, privatize city services, and break contracts with city employee unions, essentially stripping our carcass of what little meat there is left, and sealing our fate. As long as we don’t ask the wealthy in Michigan’s upscale gated communities to contribute toward the greater good, it’s all the same to the folks in Lansing. They’re allowing us to make the choice.

Speaking of Emergency Financial Mangers, and their emerging role as urban Rust Belt mortician, I found the following quote from Pontiac’s former Emergency Financial Manager, Michael Stampfler, to be quite telling:

“I do not believe EMs can be successful – they abrogate the civic structure of the community for a period of years then return it virtually dismantled for the community to attempt to somehow make a go of it… The program provides no structure for long-term recovery, and that is why most communities slide back into trouble, if they experience any relief at all.”

So, here we are, defunded to the point of collapse, with an ownership-class that has proven to be absolutely hostile to the idea of contributing toward the stability of struggling cities in which they do not live, the maintenance of public transportation that they do not use, and the education of children that they do not know, and I have to wonder just how long they can expect to remain untouched by the consequences of their actions.

In the meantime, though…

I don’t know that I have the time or energy for another project right now, but it really seems as though there’s a need for a concise, well-done multimedia piece, easily sharable by way of social media, that clearly lays out how, over the past several years, the tax burden in Michigan has steadily been shifting from the wealthy, business-owning class, to the middle class and working poor. I think that such a piece would be extremely useful, here, in Michigan, in the run-up to the next election, but I also think that folks around the country would find it to be a useful cautionary tale, as it looks as though every state in the union is following a similar trajectory, if a bit behind us. It’s complicated story to tell, but I have to believe that there’s a way to convey the facts in such a way that, at least the main points, are clear to everyone. Maybe, I’m thinking, this would be a good project for the progressive blogs of Michigan to undertake together. (I could see us launching a pretty effective Kickstarter campaign.)

As for solutions, I don’t know that we’d necessarily have to offer any in the video, but, in my opinion, there are three things that we need to do if we’re to turn things around — vote everyone out of office in Lansing, pass a progressive state income tax, and institute a rational system of revenue sharing, that strengthens Michigan’s aging cities, and provides a decent education to children across the state, regardless of how wealthy their parents might be. If we could just do that, I’d be happy.

And, for what it’w worth, I like the imagery of the voracious, blood-sucking octopus, but I could be persuaded to try different analogies.

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  1. Elf
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    Our ancestors fought this fight. Now it’s our turn. Here’s hoping we’re made of stronger stuff than we think.

  2. Demetrius
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 4:27 am | Permalink

    I’m with you, but becoming less hopeful, with time.

    Aside from the (enlightened – obviously) readers here on, what I mostly see instead is a failure by many to see how what they are personally experiencing relates to the “bigger picture.”

    Instead, I see $30,000/year blue-collar workers with little or no benefits openly resenting their neighbor down the street who makes $50,000/year and has benefits — while, at the same time, thinking that someone like Mitt Romney is somebody we should all admire for being an “entrepreneur.”

    I see this strange new dynamic where many people feel that anyone who works in the “public” sector — teachers, police officers, firefighters, etc., are now seen as lazy, greedy “takers” feeding off the toil of the hard-working private sector “producers” — while, at the same time, ignoring how incredibly rich multinational corporations continue to offshore jobs, and get government subsidies while simultaneously evading all taxes.

    And locally, I see some people getting out the tar-and feathers to go after their locally-elected, amateur (effectively volunteer) politicians, along with a handful of highly-dedicated, but seriously overworked City employees, because of Ypsilanti’s budget crisis — while, at the same time, ignoring the powerful array of forces that have contributed to our current situation — including federal tax and trade policies that have encouraged the flight of manufacturing jobs abroad; decades of disinvestment in education and infrastructure; state policies that actively discourage development in older, urban communities in favor of paving over cornfields; and Michigan’s completely broken system of funding local government services, etc.

    What’s even more disheartening is to see some presumably working- and middle-class people actually *clamoring* for a Snyder-appointed Emergency Manager to come to Ypsilanti to “straighten things out.”

    I know people are busy, and I know tracking on all these issues is complicated and time consuming … but more and more, it just seems to me that people find it easier to blame their neighbor, or that “government clerk” who lives across town, rather than connect the dots in order to understand the true source of the problem.

  3. Posted April 24, 2012 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    I’d help in any way I can from my work at Eclectablog for something like this. I think it’s a fine idea.

  4. Edward
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    And, let’s not forget, it’s not just that they’re paying less in taxes, the super-wealthy in America are also taking well over 90% of the new wealth created in this country.

    The following comes from Senator Bernie Sanders.

    One of the most interesting pieces of information that I’ve seen in the last few weeks comes from a recent study done by University of California economist Emmanuel Saez. This study, based on an analysis of American tax returns, showed that in 2010, 93 percent of all new income growth went to the top one percent of American households. Everyone else, the bottom ninety-nine percent, divided up the remaining seven percent.

    In other words, the outrageous income and wealth inequality in America continues to get worse. Almost all new income is going to the wealthiest people in our country, the people who need it the least, while the middle class continues to collapse and tens of millions of Americans struggle daily just to put food on the table, fill up their gas tanks to get to work and pay for their housing. We have not seen this level of greed from the people on top in the last hundred years.

  5. K2
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    I understand the pessimism, Demetrius, but we can’t give up. We have to keep trying to break through to people.

  6. Greg Pratt
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    I would support any efforts to help open our collective consciousness to the realities you describe, Mark. I think for something like this to work we would also need to connect our messages to conversations we are having with people in-person.

    What I am adding to your call for a coordinated media/social media campaign is a call for more *community member volunteer organizers.* We have already begun canvassing in Ypsilanti neighborhoods to organize for foreclosure defense. We could broaden the scope and objectives of those conversations. I can train people how to do this.

    As Cesar Chavez puts it:

    “The name of the game is to talk to people. If you don’t talk to people, you can’t get started…You knock on twenty doors or so, and twenty guys tell you to go to hell, or that they haven’t got time. But maybe at the fortieth or sixtieth house you find the one guy who is all you need. You’re not going to organize everything; you’re just going to get it started.”

    “…A good organizer has to work hard and long. There are no shortcuts. You just keep talking to people, working with them, sharing, exchanging and they come along.”

  7. Thom Elliott
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Who would you communicate that to? The frothy mouthed 60ish middle class white whose behavour is totally consistent with the industrial nihilism of the 20th century? The very people who carried out that which brought the truth-of-being to this looming brink of everlasting forgotteness? Or shall we tell the ostrich headed evangelical protestant whose kingdom is not of this earth who fervently despises human existance? Or should we tell the technology worshipping contemporary middle class youth who are like scooter riding, Mountin Dew addicted veal? Or the Ron Paul fanatic, risking life and limb to place unnoticed ads for their saviour on the freeway? Who is there to tell?

  8. stupid hick
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    IMHO, for it to be successful I think it would have to be able to address criticism of the type Boy O Boy made in the comments to your ‘i-cant-help-but-think-the-rich-will-regret’ post (linked above) from last year.

  9. Greg Pratt
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink


    These are all excellent questions (methinks there is a philosopher among us).

    The important thing is not what we are *telling* “THEM,” but what *questions* are we asking “THEM.”

    If we get into an individual conversation with someone, the first step is to ask open-ended questions, just like you did with your post. Excellent work.

  10. SparkleMotion
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    “So, here we are, defunded to the point of collapse, with a ownership-class that has proven to be absolutely hostile to the idea of contributing toward the stability of cities in which they do not live, the maintenance of public transportation that they do not use, and the education of children that they do not know, and I have to wonder just how long they can expect to remain untouched by the consequences of their actions.”

    Once again, the end result of the me-first-and-me-only baby boomer generation. Keep feeding them processed foods and Bud Light – it will hasten their demise. Like the pig moving through the snake, we cannot truly go forward until them and their mentality is gone.

  11. Kris Kaul
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I agree; I’ve thought we needed much better, easily accessible, VISUAL representations of the dry statistics that are ruining millions of people’s lives in slow motion. Only in hindsight does it seem we’re able to realize we were part of an historical event. What we need it a TED talk about this with really telling visuals… and a Matt Taibbi article… but the idea of doing something locally is excellent. I’d certainly be willing to try to amass data for such an undertaking.

  12. Demetrius
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

  13. Maria
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”
    – Margaret Mead

    A good model might be the animated short: the story of stuff.
    You can see it here:
    I’ve used this resource in the classroom before, when teaching about why overheated consumerism is a bad thing. People really respond to it.
    Apparently, they’ve made other movies (the Story of Broke). Perhaps we can each watch one and come back with some ideas for the format’s application to our purposes…

  14. Adam W W
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I think this could do the job –

    But yeah, let’s build viable and lasting local community organizations by pooling our many individual talents and committing ourselves to a shared vision. I’ve been around the community for a year or so and it seems utterly possible to do this. Oldtimers tell me it has been at least 30 years since there has been this level of activity. Let’s take the next step, sisters and brothers.

  15. Mr. X
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking about this, and it occurs to me that it could be really simple, if we just followed the White House’s whiteboard model, as seen in this YouTube video:

    We’d just need a good script, camera and lighting.

    So, I don’t know that Kickstarter would be necessary. It would be cool, however, to have a budget to do it right, pay people something for their labor, rent the equipment necessary, have graphics made, etc. Still, though, it could be done pretty easily.

    The other route would be to shoot people around Michigan, talking about the cuts that have impacted them. This could be incredibly powerful. But, it’s more time, work and budget. Maybe the idea is to start with graphics, and a white board, and then add to the campaign later with other pieces.

  16. Meta
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Relevant article at Common Dreams:

    The Middle Class Hasn’t Disappeared. It’s Just Sliding Toward the Bottom: “There’s no ‘average’ anymore, in the sense of a normal curve with most of the people and most of the money in the middle. Today, 400 individuals have as much wealth as an entire HALF of America.”

  17. anonymous
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    “like a pig moving through a snake”

    Best analogy ever. Thanks.

  18. anonymous
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    “Mountain Dew addicted veal” is also good.

    This thread is awesome.

    And, Mr. Hick, I’m mad at you for making me go back and read those comments from Boy O Boy.

  19. John Galt
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    You laugh, but the most tender and succulent veal in the world is raised on Mountain Dew.

  20. mark k
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    “Why is it that we allow the Republicans to refer to themselves as the anti-tax party, when they keep demonstrating that they clearly aren’t?”

    Hey I have an idea instead of bad mouthing Republicans why don’t you show the following video of what happens when Democrats are in charge for a couple decades. How could you go wrong? Just show them the end result.

  21. Posted April 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    People really still believe in trickle down economics. It’s quite amazing.

  22. Posted April 24, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    I feel like being the turd in the punchbowl, so here we go. I feel Demetrius’ pessimism (that was a great comment, btw) to the nth degree. Somehow, people have been convinced that teachers are the greedy ones, and not the for-profit CEOs in charter schools or the testing administration folks or the tutoring companies or anyone else. Somewhere along the lines, unions became the bad guys. And yes, I know unions are not perfect, but as I always say–I’d rather have one than not.

    I really think the problem stems from a few places…first, too many people think that they will be rich one day. They take offense when anyone suggests that the rich pay their fair share because, for some ungodly reason, they either see these rich assholes as their soon-to-be peers or else because they are so afraid of them that they don’t dare ask anything of them. Some of those folks seem to think that if not for the government and affirmative action/women/blacks/gays/immigrants, they already WOULD be rich. I think the honestly think that if all government regulation, they’d be rich. Never mind that they are so dumb that they make flowers wilt…no, if the big, bad government would just go away, THEY’D BE RICH!

    There is also the problem of envy. Before I became a teacher, I was *extremely* envious of the pay scale, the schedule, the lifestyle. I never actively worked against them but rather, asked myself how I could get my life to be like that. Now, you have people who have crappy pay and no benefits getting envious, but being dickheads about it and wanting to take it away…kind of like, “Well if I can’t have it, neither can you motherfucker.” I think the question should still be, “How can I get that for myself WITHOUT taking it from someone else?” Or at least, “Okay, so I can’t get that for myself, but I’m not going to hate on those who have it.”

    Yet another problem is religion. I am fairly religious myself, or at least I try to be, but too many people vote Republican because they want women back in the kitchen or are against legalized abortion or whatever else lines up with their particular religious beliefs. They are blinded to all else, including financial realities.

    So now that I’ve identified three of the problems that I see, how do you get the message through to those people? Here is where I become a major turd and say, I don’t think you can. I appreciate the Margaret Mead quote (LOVE her; she is a Chi Omega just like me!!) and I appreciate websites and links and You Tube and whatever else but I just don’t think that’ll do it. I’m not saying to stop trying, but I don’t know what to do anymore.

    Going to bed to dream turdfull dreams.

  23. Simple
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    In spirit of Elf’s comment:

    Our ancestors fought this fight. Now it’s our turn. Here’s hoping we’re made of stronger stuff than we think.

    And many that followed, here’s real suggestion:

    While I don’t want to surrender to the fight for fair share taxation, I, frankly, don’t think we need the 1% to fund our city. We also don’t need their services.

    Simple solution. Cable deals are approved by city council (theoretically, us). Let’s be a cable free city. Let’s devote the $50 a month most of us spend on cable to education, police and fire, pensions and parks.

    If our home entertainment dollars were diverted into public services, we’d be solvent.

    Are we asking the rich to pay for our police and public schools or asking them to pay for our cable?

    Until we decide which is more valuable to us, what we’re more willing to pay for, all the rich vs. poor noise is a waste.

    We don’t need the rich to pay for our roads. They need us to watch their shows. We finance them. With every cable bill and bottle of cola water.

    Easy question: what do you value more? Cable or education? Cable or police/fire protection?

    Less easy: what are you willing to pay for? how does that reflect your stated values?

    We’re not poor. We can self fund. We just have to figure out what we value.

  24. j
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s too late; our problems too severe, too fundamental to be correctable. I don’t believe we can restore the balance we once had in our political economy. Our ruling class has committed fully to Thanatos. There is no turning back, only systemic collapse.

  25. j
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Also, this isn’t a Michigan thing or 21st century thing. This is capitalism as designed:

  26. EOS
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    Collecting increased tax dollars from the working class in the rest of the state in order to pay for the higher level of services desired by “aging cities”, whose populations are dwindling, does not contribute to the greater good.

    The citizen’s of the majority of communities in our state don’t have bus service that stops at their corner and runs every 10 minutes. Most don’t have full time firefighters. Most don’t have curbside recycling. Most don’t have such an exorbitantly high cost police department. Most don’t have such extensive public parks with an outdoor community pool. Most don’t get the economic stimulus of having a major State University located in their community. Why should they subsidize Ypsi?

    I think many of you are just greedy. You covet the lifestyles of the very few who can afford to live in upscale, gated communities. Go ahead and rally the masses to Occupy Water Street and produce You Tube videos to demand confiscatory tax rates on the wealthy and higher taxes on us all. And in the end, if you are successful, you’ll end up with an even worse economic climate.

    I’m not rich and I have no desire or hope to ever be rich. I’m motivated by a desire to never be dependent. I want to keep government small, to limit taxes, and to earn a sufficient amount of money to provide for my family and help others, of my own choosing, along the way. To be frank, providing a higher standard of living to the residents of the city of Ypsilanti, is not my personal choice for spending my hard earned dollars.

  27. Mr. X
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Yes, we are just greedy for wanting fire fighters and decent public schools for our children. And we deserve to be penalized because the wealthy have pulled up stakes, left our community, and secluded themselves in gated compounds. Thank you for clarifying, EOS.

  28. Thom Elliott
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    Shocking, EOS thinks poor people are greedy, resents Ypsilanti, and seeks the same tried and failed, cynical anti-social policies of the far right. What a luxury to never be dependant, weird how the faux xtian conforms with the antixtian Ayn Rand’s brutal “philosophy” of isolation, seeing as rigid autonomy is the only ideal, I wonder what we should do with all these cognitively impaired or POHI individuals who can’t help being dependant? Should the cognitively impaired be eliminated to spare our morally superior wealthy the excess burden of having to drag the dead weight? Also the cost/benefit analysis of the “greater good” what could a miserly hate monger libel spewing monster like yourself give a fuck about the greater good? You don’t even know what that means.

  29. Mr. X
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    One question for you, EOS. Is it true that the wealthy now pay significantly less in taxes than they did under the administration of conservative hero Ronald Reagan? People often talk of the prosperity we experienced under his administration, and I’m wondering why we wouldn’t want to explore the possibility of recreating that magic by raising taxes.

  30. Thom Elliott
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    I would never actually wish it on my worst enemy, but it would be great if EOS had a global hemmoragic stroke, which he probably will from his deplorable eating habits and lifestyle, and end up totally dependant on the goodwill of others and state funding to live out a meager existence without language or the ability to see in 3D or in color. I would just love to hear his tune then if he could communicate through his spastic dysarthria about the moral imperative of financial autonomy, and the blood sucking poor who need their services cut off so the rich can eat whale steaks and drive Escalades.

  31. EOS
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    I’m not saying that government should not help the truly needy. The average resident in the city of Ypsilanti enjoys a higher SES and standard of living than the majority who live in the rest of the communities in the State. They should be paying for the services in their city and helping those less fortunate across our state rather than demanding a greater share of the State’s revenue. I don’t know of a single community that doesn’t want police and fire protection and good schools for their children. You cross the line and become greedy when you expect people who don’t live in the city to pay for your services.

  32. EOS
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Mr X,

    The wealthy today pay more tax dollars than when Reagan was president, albeit at a lower percentage of their income. When the tax rates are decreased, the tax revenues increase, because lower tax rates stimulate business and increase employment. During a time of high unemployment, raising business taxes will lead to greater unemployment. The economic climate today is much different than when Reagan was president.

  33. Demetrius
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    One thing I find fascinating about this discussion is just how much people have a tendency to adapt to the changing conditions over time — so much so, that they begin to accept as “normal” things that would have been unthinkable only a short time ago.

    For instance when I was a kid, my dad, who was a blue-collar guy (with no formal education), worked one job (40 hours per week, occasional overtime), and was able to provide our family with a basic, yet comfortable life — basic house, basic groceries, trips to the doctor if you were sick, a vacation spent tent-camping “Up North” once a year, etc. Today, most “working poor” families would need to have both parents working 1 or more jobs to get close to that standard of living — provided they are not hopelessly in debt, or are struggling to pay medical bills, etc.

    25 years ago, most working people (even most “working class” people) expected that basic (free, or very low-cost) health insurance would come as “standard” with their employment. Today — many people feel they have “scored big,” if they land a job that offers any kind of benefits at all, even shitty insurance for which they to pay high deductibles and co-pays.

    And, not that long ago, anybody who lived in a town with more than a blinker-light expected that, if you called the police, they would show up … and if a building in your neighborhood caught fire, that firefighters would show up to try to put it out. People didn’t think too much about it, it was “was.” Today — we seem to accept the steady erosion of basic public services as the new “normal.”

    As evidence, think about this: There was a story yesterday on about how Detroit may now be considering a policy of allowing fires in “vacant” structures to simply burn away — rather than spend precious dollars putting them out.

    50 years ago, Detroit was considered by many to be the “Paris of the Midwest.” Today — we are considering letting whole swaths of Michigan’s largest city burn for lack of the will or resources to do anything about it … and yet even this news seems to be met with a collective shrug …

  34. Thom Elliott
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Why should the govt help the “truely needy”? Are vicious libel spewing hate mongers like you the ones to determine who is truely needy? What about cognitively impaired children? Are they truely needy? Now with our far right state govt Special Ed is totally destroyed, from total lack of desire to fund it. Can we trust heartless antixtians who live to hate (like you EOS) to determine who is actually truely needy? Or is it merely an empty word game to you fascists use to discriminate against gays, blacks, handicapped under the tyrranical lie of “fiscal” “responsability”?

  35. Dan
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink


    Your medieval hipster utopia sounds very appealing. Take away people’s entertainment and freedom to choose how to be entertained, so that you can enact a stronger police state. Amazing solution!

    Here’s another solution: move to North Korea.

  36. Posted April 25, 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Well we know where Dan stands on entertainment. I find cable (with the exception of the Tigers) to be totally worthless. 25 years ago every Tiger game was broadcast free. The Randian future is becoming the present. With all of us paying a capitalist a “toll” for services and resources that were once owned by the commons or were freely available. One possible solution is a private for profit corporation in which ownership is restricted (or at least the voting preferential stock) to citizens of Ypsilanti. The city could for example “privatize” all of our services and outsource them to YPSICORP. As a private corp. they could charge every vehicle that uses the roads directly adjacent to EMU, the charge is not for the road, but for snow removal and repairs. As others have pointed out, EMU is our cities “primary asset. Like all good “capitalist” we should strip mine it (or at least the students, faculty and staff) of all the wealth we can. In addition, we would not need to care about higher taxes because of the profits from YPSICORP that would be distributed to the owners (ie. the citizens of Ypsi). Here is our chance to truly embrace the future. As the country gets turned into one great toll way, where would you rather be stuck, in a city where you can walk to accomplish most of daily life, or a township where you might have to pay 10 or 20 tolls just to go to the store?

  37. kjc
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    i’m sorta with Dan on this one. if you think an income tax will run people off, trying taking away their cable!

  38. Bob
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I just finished reading a new book by Gary Weiss called “Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle For America’s Soul.” I found it pretty fascinating. It has basic biographical information on Rand and her philosophies and conveys how her influence is really on the rise among a range of people from educators to politicians to tea party groups and Libertarians. It addresses the crumbling middle-class and helps explain why many working people are supporting these interests that only hurt themselves.

    I had no idea how influential she really was with key people like Alan Greenspan.
    I always viewed her as sort of a marginal flake but clearly that isn’t the case. The Greenspan stuff in particular is fascinating and his continued allegiance to her agenda remains strong and largely unchecked by the mainstream media. His testimony before Congress regarding the financial crisis had direct quotes from Rand’s writing and went completely unnoticed at the time.

    The Ayn Rand Institute also gives away a million free copies of her books every year to high schools and colleges who agree to teach them. Yikes.

  39. kjc
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the info Bob. Sounds like a good read. I learned about AG’s AR love at the same time I found out Brooksley Born was a hero.

  40. anonymous
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Can’t read about Ayn Rand without thinking about her crush on serial killer William Edward Hickman. (And the fact that she collected social security, despite her diatribes against it.) Here are the details on her love affair with Hickman.

    The best way to get to the bottom of Ayn Rand’s beliefs is to take a look at how she developed the superhero of her novel, Atlas Shrugged, John Galt. Back in the late 1920s, as Ayn Rand was working out her philosophy, she became enthralled by a real-life American serial killer, William Edward Hickman, whose gruesome, sadistic dismemberment of 12-year-old girl named Marion Parker in 1927 shocked the nation. Rand filled her early notebooks with worshipful praise of Hickman. According to biographer Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market, Rand was so smitten with Hickman that she modeled her first literary creation — Danny Renahan, the protagonist of her unfinished first novel, The Little Street — on him.

    What did Rand admire so much about Hickman? His sociopathic qualities: “Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should,” she wrote, gushing that Hickman had “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.'”

    This echoes almost word for word Rand’s later description of her character Howard Roark, the hero of her novel The Fountainhead: “He was born without the ability to consider others.” (The Fountainhead is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ favorite book — he even requires his clerks to read it.)

    I’ll get to where Rand picked up her silly superman blather later — but first, let’s meet William Hickman, the “genuinely beautiful soul” and inspiration to Ayn Rand. What you will read below — the real story, details included, of what made Hickman a “superman” in Ayn Rand’s eyes — is extremely gory and upsetting, even if you’re well acquainted with true crime stories — so prepare yourself. But it’s necessary to read this to understand Rand, and to repeat this over and over until all of America understands what made her tick, because Rand’s influence over the very people leading the fight to kill social programs, and her ideological influence on so many powerful bankers, regulators and businessmen who brought the financial markets crashing down, means her ideas are affecting all of our lives in the worst way imaginable.,_hugely_popular_author_and_inspiration_to_right-wing_leaders,_was_a_big_admirer_of_serial_killers

  41. Observation
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    94 people “like” this. I think that means you should move forward with the idea.

  42. Dan
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink


    “25 years ago every Tiger game was broadcast free.” This is patently false. A good number of their games were on the pay station PASS back in the day. And before that (and after it crumbled) many games simply weren’t televised.

    Why do you think people loved Ernie Harwell so much? Even with cable, EVERY Tigers game has only been televised a few seasons and these years were just recently during their resurgence.

    Also, to your YpsiCorp idea. Go for it! It’s not really much different than the ridiculous tax rates imposed on the citizens of ypsi. The market will just force the areas serviced by YpsiCorp to become barren empty lots. People will simply choose better alternatives.

  43. Simple
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Put more simply: If you had to choose:

    Cable TV or Public Schools?

  44. Dan
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 6:04 am | Permalink


    The problem you’re missing is that Ypsi City is the only one that is hypothetically posing that ultimatum. Why would someone move or stay in the city of they are to choose between funding police or enjoying some entertainment? When all of the surrounding communities offer the ability to more cheaply have both.

    Enforcing a competitive disadvantage for people to live and work in the city makes no sense.

  45. Demetrius
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    @ Simple

    “Cable TV or Public Schools?”

    At the rate we are going, in a few more years this will no longer be a problem, since the former will have taken the place of the later.

  46. Posted April 26, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Your right Dan, I meant 30 years ago and its true I exaggerated, only a hundred plus games were broadcast free. PASS didn’t exist, and channel 50 had the broadcast rights, and almost every night (that there was not a day game) I sat down and watched the Tigers for free. And Dan, you seem to forget that for 5 years in the 90’s, (which is 20 years ago now) Ernie broadcast on TV, and before that he was frequently a TV guest announcer. I thought my free enterprise solution would have appealed to you Dan, but I guess you are only in favor of “free enterprise” for the rich. I think that if we privatize our roads (much like Indiana has done with the Tri-state Toll way), the new privatized company could charge road maintenance fees (some thing the city is prohibited from doing). A privatized security force could contract with neighbors of the city to provide security.
    By way of contrast, my wife works in Ohio, and the city she works in (Mansfield) charges a 2% income tax (resident/non-resident doesn’t matter). In addition, she has to pay for garbage disposal (privatized non-city service–extra for recycling). Here is a link to cities in Ohio that charge an income tax

    I didn’t count, but it sure looks very pervasive.

  47. Dan
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Comparing Ohio taxes is irrelevant. They have a progressive state income tax. Michigan has a flat state income tax. Most cities in Ohio have an income tax, only a handful in Michigan do.

    The issue is competition. Why would someone choose to live and work in the city of Ypsi, when they can live and work a 1/2 mile away and not pay the ridiculous tax rates.

    Again, it’s a competitive disadvantage for the city.

  48. Dan
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    and your assumptions about me are incorrect. I am a huge proponent of progressive tax rates, and think the “rich” should be paying much more than they do now. And I think the capital gains tax rates should be the same as income.

    my issue with Ypsi’s taxes are about competition with surrounding communities and the lack of accountability of the leaders of the city. The city already takes a ridiculous amount of your money in taxes, and it can’t seem to “live” off of it no matter how much they keep increasing the taxes. As a wise man said “act your wage.” Ypsi doesnt seem to get that, the city think it should continue to ask for “raises” when it continues to provide worse and worse environments for business and residents.

  49. kjc
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    as to emergency managers, holy font size.

  50. Citywatch
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Someone has to say this so here goes. Although I know, and am friends with, some of the people I am speaking about, even the Ypsilanti tax debate has, by my observation, the multi property owners and more affluent on the side of no taxes. This is a generalization of course, but the Mauers, the Beals, the Steve Pierces, the Finks, the Peter Fletcher’s, the French’s of our town are on that side. In my humble opinion these are people who have gained financially from being in Ypsilanti for one reason or another and who might be interested in giving back, but are not in favor of increasing revenue through an income tax or paying off the Water Street debt. There is compelling evidence to show that the ballot measures would not create population flight, or restrict migration into the city, but it would help retain police and fire protection as well as help to maintain a livable city…..all things that would help these folks it seems, but still a “no” vote from them. I respect their right to vote as they please, but I hope it isn’t the usual kind of class warfare we are seeing elsewhere. Perhaps they await the time when Ypsilanti reaches the same point as Detroit (where a murder a day keeps the people and business away) and then, like the Karmanos and Illych families they purchase
    everything of potential value in sight and await a rebirth.

  51. anonymous
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Rich people don’t want to pay taxes. What else is new?

  52. Meta
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of wealth distribution, NY Magazine has an interesting piece on Paul Ryan and his budget. Here’s a taste.

    The basic elements of Ryan’s plan are this: The tax code would be collapsed into two rates, with the top rate dropping to 25 percent, but eliminating unspecified tax deductions would keep tax revenues at the current level, as set by the Bush tax cuts. Medicare would remain untouched for those 55 years old and older, but those under would be given vouchers at a capped rate. Given that the Medicare savings would not begin to take effect for more than a decade, that taxes would stay level (at best), and that military spending would increase, Ryan would achieve his short-term deficit reduction by focusing overwhelmingly on programs targeted to the poor (which account for about a fifth of the federal budget, but absorb 62 percent of Ryan’s cuts over the next decade). The budget repeals Obamacare, thereby uninsuring some 30 million Americans about to become insured. It would then take insurance away from another 14 to 27 million people, by cutting Medicaid and children’s health-insurance funding.

    This is not a moderate plan. As Robert Greenstein, a liberal budget analyst, summed up the proposal, “It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history.” And yet, Ryan has managed to sell it as something admirable, and something else entirely: a deficit-reduction plan. This is very clever. The centrist political Establishment, heavily represented among business leaders and the political media, considers it almost self-evident that the budget deficit (and not, say, mass unemployment or climate change) represents the singular policy threat of our time, and that bipartisan cooperation offers the sole avenue to address it. By casting his program as a solution to the debt crisis, by frequently conceding that Republicans as well as Democrats had failed in the past, and by inveighing against “demagoguery,” Ryan has presented himself as the acceptable Republican suitor the moderates had been longing for.

    Whether Ryan’s plan even is a “deficit-reduction plan” is highly debatable. Ryan promises to eliminate trillions of dollars’ worth of tax deductions, but won’t identify which ones. He proposes to sharply reduce government spending that isn’t defense, Medicare (for the next decade, anyway), or Social Security, but much of that reduction is unspecified, and when Obama named some possible casualties, Ryan complained that those hypotheticals weren’t necessarily in his plan. Ryan is specific about two policies: massive cuts to income-tax rates, and very large cuts to government programs that aid the poor and medically vulnerable. You could call all this a “deficit-reduction plan,” but it would be more accurate to call it “a plan to cut tax rates and spending on the poor and sick.” Aside from a handful of exasperated commentators, like Paul Krugman, nobody does.

    The persistent belief in the existence of an authentic, deficit hawk Ryan not only sweeps aside the ugly particulars of his agenda, it also ignores, well, pretty much everything he has done in his entire career, and pretty much everything he has said until about two years ago.

    In 2005, Ryan spoke at a gathering of Ayn Rand enthusiasts, where he declared, “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.” Ryan has listed Rand’s manifesto, Atlas Shrugged, as one of his three most often reread books, and in 2003, he told The Weekly Standard he tries to make his interns read it. Rand is a useful touchstone to understand Ryan’s public philosophy. She centered libertarian philosophy around a defense of capitalism in general and, in particular, a conception of politics as a class war pitting virtuous producers against parasites who illegitimately use the power of the state to seize their wealth. Ludwig von Mises, whom Ryan has also cited as an influence, once summed up Rand’s philosophy in a letter to her: “You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: You are inferior and all the improvements in your condition which you simply take for granted you owe to the effort of men who are better than you.”

    Ryan now frequently casts his opposition to Obama in technocratic terms, but he hasn’t always done so. “It is not enough to say that President Obama’s taxes are too big or the health-care plan doesn’t work for this or that policy reason,” Ryan said in 2009. “It is the morality of what is occurring right now, and how it offends the morality of individuals working toward their own free will to produce, to achieve, to succeed, that is under attack, and it is that what I think Ayn Rand would be commenting on.” Ryan’s philosophical opposition to a government that forces the “makers” to subsidize the “takers”—terms he still employs—is foundational; the policy details are secondary.

    Read More:

  53. Meta
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Stampfler was featured on Rachel Maddow’s program last night.

  54. pozy
    Posted June 21, 2013 at 4:14 am | Permalink

    Like the frog in the pan of gradually heated water, we won’t realize until it’s too late I fear.

7 Trackbacks

  1. […]… Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. […] Act… Here, with a little more background, is something I wrote earlier this year about these urban Rust Belt morticians we call Emergency Managers. …(H)ere, in Michigan, it’s painfully obvious to all but the […]

  3. […] about how taxes are going up precipitously on working class Michiganders, I’m reminded of something that I wrote about a year ago for this site. Here’s how my post began. Why is it that we allow the Republicans to refer to […]

  4. By State of the City 2013: Shaping Ypsilanti on March 6, 2013 at 9:50 am

    […] community to push back against a state which seems determined to see its aging cities destroyed and shift the tax burden to the working class. I don’t think it’s possible to have a discussion about where we are as a city without […]

  5. […] campaign to decimate Michigan’s middle class. Here, with more on that, is a little something that I wrote a year or so ago. I think it’s as appropriate today as it was back then. …Why is it that we allow the […]

  6. By What’s up with the Ypsilanti street light fee? on August 2, 2013 at 5:03 am

    […] but, seeing as how we haven’t talked about the shifting of the tax burden in Michigan onto the backs of the poor and middle class in a while, I thought that I’d take this suggestion for a post that was sent in last night, […]

  7. […] attack. Reproductive rights are being curtailed. And those of us who aren’t in the top 1% are sliding ever more rapidly toward poverty, working harder for less, just to stay alive. And, on top of all of this, I’m sure we all […]

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