I’m a total loss as to what else to say tonight. I’ve said it all before, a million times.
The Republicans are better at this that we are. They’re tireless, and the don’t give a fuck about how they’re perceived. Winning is everything. I’m tempted to say that we should be more like them, but I know that’s not the answer. I’m just pissed that we’re going to have to fight all of the same battles over again that our grandparents already fought and won.
I agree. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve clicked on your page and FB and Twitter just because I want to know I’m not alone in feeling completely defeated. I know this can all be undone but I don’t think I want to stick around to wait for it and that is what I am most angry about–I feel like I am being driven out of my own homestate by a bunch of greedy, soulless ass holes who don’t even care that some of us really love this state and honestly care about other people (and myself, of course) making a good living. Totally crushed and defeated…going to beddy bye now.
It’s not where you live, but how, that makes life exhausting.
Life takes from you … unless you live somewhere where you don’t really give a flying fuck about life.
May we be wrong.
Anyone want to buy a house in Michigan? I hear things are about to get great here. Lots of jobs. Lots of prosperity.
I like the quote from a Richard Bach book… “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”
For all the complaining that people have done over the past several years, my sense is that this might finally be the point where people actually start making plans to leave Michigan. Friends I’ve joked around with in the past, I think are now serious. They aren’t saying, “This sucks, and I need to get out of here.” They’re saying, “Can you help me work on my resume.” Brain drain was already an issue. I’m afraid that it’s going to get that much worse after this lame-duck session. More chicken processing plants. Fewer R&D companies. This is Snyder’s reinvented Michigan.
welcome to Michissippi
Wobblie, I assume you’re referring that article in Salon yesterday entitled “Michigan just gives up”.
If you want to understand why Michigan is going to pass a right-to-work law this week, go to the Grand River Bar & Grill, a tavern on the north side of Chicago. It’s one of a half-dozen Chicago bars designed to appeal to graduates of Michigan State University. Green and white flags hang on the walls, the MSU fight song blares during Spartan basketball games, and there’s even a euchre league, for fans of the countrified form of bridge played in Michigan college dorms.
Fifty percent of Michigan State students now leave the state immediately after graduation. That ratio doubled in the 2000s, which is known in Michigan as “The Lost Decade.” In those 10 years, Michigan dropped from 30th to 35th in the percentage of college graduates, and from 18th to 37th in per capita income. (Michigan was also the only state to lose population in the last census.) The university system’s main function is giving Michigan’s brightest students a credential to get the hell off that jobless peninsula.
Their No. 1 destination is Chicago, the drain where most of the brains in the Midwest end up. (Every Big Ten school is represented by at least one bar there.)
Joe Lambert, who graduated from MSU in 2004, tried to stay in Michigan, but the only job he could find was at Enterprise Rent-a-Car. A faculty adviser told him about an opening at a consulting firm in Chicago. He rode Amtrak’s Blue Water line for the interview, and got a phone call the next day.
Today, Lambert is working at an accounting firm, and married to a woman from Boston. There’s a rule of thumb in the Rust Belt states: Once kids are gone for five years, they’re gone forever.
“Honestly, I love Chicago,” he said. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather live. It’s one of those things that the more time I spend here, the more I love about it. For everything that Michigan has going for it, they’ve squandered a lot of their resources. When the auto industry moved out, they had nothing to fall back on. I get calls from alumni, saying, ‘I’m thinking about moving to Chicago.’ I say, ‘By all means, come here. It’s been great to me.’”
What does this have to do with the right-to-work law? Michigan has lost so many educated workers that the state’s leadership seems to feel it has no choice but to become a low-wage haven. The kind of place that attracts chicken processors, not software engineers. (There is a Google office in Ann Arbor. It was set up there by Google founder and University of Michigan graduate Larry Page, as a sop to the state he abandoned for Silicon Valley, which is to the 21st century economy what Detroit was to the 20th.) Unable to adjust to the 21st century, Michigan is going back to the 19th.
Gov. Rick Snyder, who came into office as an opponent of changing the state’s labor laws, changed his mind after Indiana — another state suffering from an out-migration of college degrees — became the first right-to-work state in the Rust Belt earlier this year. That put pressure on Michigan to compete with its neighbor for unskilled jobs.
Twenty years ago, I made the same journey as Joe Lambert: I was a Michigan State grad who couldn’t find a full-time job in my hometown of Lansing. All my friends were moving to Chicago, so I loaded everything I owned into the back of my Ford F150 pickup truck and made the four-hour drive. Most of us are still here. Six years ago, I tried to move home, but my only job offer paid $25,000 a year — with no vacation. Economic emigration is such a rite of passage for young Michiganders that a college humor magazine dubbed Michigan “The Get Packin’ State,” and I once heard a bookstore clerk in Lansing sigh, “We’re all going to end up in Chicago.”
It’s another consequence of globalization, the same force that contributed to the decimation of the American auto industry, and along with it, the decimation of the union movement: Just as money and education have become concentrated among fewer people, they’ve become concentrated among fewer cities, too. Chicago is one of the winners. Detroit, Flint, Lansing and Saginaw are among the losers. Michigan leads the nation in urban poverty, violence and decrepitude. Detroit is such an international symbol of post-industrial decay that artists fly all the way from Europe just to photograph its ruins.
Former Chicago Tribune reporter Richard C. Longworth, author of “Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism,” often speaks to civic clubs in such towns as Davenport, Peoria, Terre Haute and Grand Rapids. When he asks, “What can Chicago do for you?” the small-town burghers always have the same response: “Give us back our children.”
They’re not coming back, and neither are Michigan’s days as a land of economic opportunity. It’s been pointed out that Michigan is birthplace of the modern union movement, which began during the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1936-37. But Michigan was also, for two generations in the middle of the 20th century, the destination for Southern sharecroppers looking to escape their penurious peasantry. The Hillbilly Highway ran from Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas — three right-to-work states — to Flint and Detroit. At its end were decent wages and middle-class dignity, guaranteed by the United Auto Workers.
Now, Michigan has decided to become the kind of state that Michiganders’ grandparents escaped. When it does, even more of their grandchildren will make the trek along their own Wolverine Highway, to Chicago, to New York or to Silicon Valley.
Welcome to Michissippi.
Michigan still has a lot going for it — abundant fresh water; ample farmland and a temperate climate; salvageable infrastructure, including many human-scale cities and towns; and, believe it or not, a rich progressive tradition — being the cradle of the American labor movement, and including, here and there, communities like Ypsilanti where incredibly talented, visionary people are creating new models for a healthier and more sustainable future.
But unless we fix our rampant political dysfunction, and get people organized behind some kind of unified, progressive vision, I agree that Michigan IS destined to become “Michissippi,” a backward-looking, low-skill, low-wage state, perpetually under the thumb of a relatively tiny, 1%-sponsored political elite.
I’m definitely angry at Michigan Republicans for what happened yesterday. But I’m also angry with Michigan Democrats …
What exactly is *their* compelling vision for a prosperous, diverse, and just Michigan? We all agree that Snyder and the state GOP are now pretty much taking their orders directly from the Koch Brothers and ALEC — but what have Michigan Democrats offered as a clear, compelling counter-narrative? What plan have they offered that large majorities of voters low- and middle-class voters could see, understand, and get behind — other than just being “against” whatever despicable thing the Republicans are doing … this week? In a state that just voted to re-elect President Obama by a nearly 10-point margin, how is it that Michigan Democrats always seem to be playing defense — like a Democratic Charlie Brown repeatedly having the football taken away at the last minute by Republican Lucy?
I fully understand Michigan’s legendary divisions with regard to class, race, religion, and even region, but I can’t understand why there isn’t more unity — and more organized opposition — to the Republicans’ blatantly anti-union, anti-worker, anti-education, anti-woman, anti-gay, and frankly anti-democratic reign.
I was in Lansing for yesterday’s protest, and I was struck by the incredible diversity of the crowd: People representing every conceivable size and type of union; white, black and brown; men and women; and from all across the state — from Monroe to Iron Mountain. There was also a sizable contingent there to support Planned Parenthood and abortion rights — easily recognizable in their hot pink t-shirts.
Yet, where were the non-union, “professional” workers (like me) whose wages and benefits are now threatened by the inevitable downward spiral brought on by RTW? Where were the farmers? Where were the university professors? Where were the environmentalists? Where were the bus-loads from cities like Benton Harbor, Detroit … and Ypsilanti … who are being continually threatened with takeover by unelected “emergency managers?”
Yesterday’s fight was not just about labor rights. Or about preserving reproductive rights. Or civil rights. Or saving public schools. Or the foreclosure crisis. Or maintaining a healthy environment. Or sustainable agriculture. Or public transportation. Or “emergency managers.”Or “Detroit.”
It was about *all* of these things. But until people begin to understand that, and begin to unite and organize to oppose those who continue to divide and exploit us, I agree with Mark that living in Michigan is likely to continue to be exhausting.
I’d consider moving back if living in Michigan was exhausting fucking.
This place gets worse by the day.
The comparisons to Mississippi are extreme, though. It will take a while for things to get that bad.
We can run, but we can’t hide. This isn’t just a Michigan thing. This is everywhere. This is cancer in the lymph nodes.
Edward is right. I am one of those who is now just waiting to vest in the pension system before I start looking . When my boyfriend and I first hooked up, he said he wanted to leave in about five years and I was all “No! I can’t leave Ann Arbor!” Now I know I probably have to. It breaks my heart.
@ Teacherpatti and Edward
On second thought, it occurs to me that this may be their master plan:
Once “they” drive away all the artists, intellectuals, environmentalists, union supporters, ethnic minorities, feminists and gays, as well as anyone else who is relatively well educated and/or liberal, Michigan can finally become the (conservative, white, Christian) paradise they’ve always dreamed about — with Dick DeVos as their “ruler for life,” the Michigan Constitution scrapped in favor of the ALEC policy manual manual (and the Bible, of course), and with “emergency managers” ruling over any lingering minority/dissident hot-spots.
demetrius, what exactly are you doing in your community, beyond penning these loquacious op-eds?
for the rest of you who are pissing and moaning about michigan being terrible: you think california or new york treat their working people any better? this is a global problem.
finally: instead of blaming “michigan,” how about you make today the day you’ll get off your fannies and get engaged in the difficult and messy work of re-imagining your local community?
Well, I was protesting in Lansing yesterday, for starters.
Yes, too exhausted to look for work elsewhere, or do the work on the house that I’d have to do if I wanted to sell it.
And I like your posts, Demetrius. Keep them coming.
Our mutual friend, Thom Elliott, took to Facebook yesterday to talk a friend into moving back to Michigan.
“Michigan is like America’s Romania, beautiful drear, industrial decay, and authentic human beings still live here. Michigan’s autism rate is only 1 out of 88 live births, which while alarmingly high, is still lower then California’s autism rate. The standard of living is still pretty high, and the cost of living exponentially lower then on the coasts, which due to planetary climate change, will most likely cease to exist before too long, so you’ll get to avoid the tragic havok of forced migration. Another side effect of the climate change is that MI & OH are having increasingly mild winters, somewhere in the 40s most of the time. Come back to a place where you can have your dog, go to top notch noise music shows, probably get an ok job, listen to hypernasal speaking, and avoid vapid valley girls, puffed up body builders, horrific entertianment industry leeches, and their shrill desperation.”
“you think california or new york treat their working people any better? this is a global problem.”
Yes and yes. For starters, CA and NY aren’t RTW.
Go West Middle Aged Man!
Thom is a genius.
We should print that note of Thom’s on leaflets and have them dropped (by drone) all over LA.
While he/she didn’t say it in the best way, anon does have a point. But personally I am way too depressed and demoralized right now.
Demetrius, I hope you are wrong but I fear you are right!
Part of the problem is that this is not just about our “local community”. I’m generally optimistic about Ypsilanti — or I would be if not for the garbage spewing from Lansing. And I agree with Demetrius that the Michigan Democratic Party has some responsibility here for their failure to step up and offer a positive vision.
“some” responsibility? almost complete responsibility, shared with the average citizens whose sole political action happens every two years. i’m equally disappointed in myself and my friends right now as i am with governor snyder. as eldridge said, “you either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.”
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