Sunday, January 13, 2008


So I was reading the New York Times today (this is another form of torture that I regularly inflict on myself). They had an article on there about the state of Michigan and the voters there. You know, what they're looking for in a candidate -- towards whom they are gravitating, etc... And I was struck by the people they chose to quote for this article. Either America is in worse shape than I thought it was, or the people in Michigan are not very bright (no, I don't think this is the case - I have relatives in Michigan... sorry guys!), or the New York Times is trying to promote a specific agenda with this particular article. (Say it isn't so!!!)

Ah, but I'm afraid so it is. Monica Davey, reporting for the NYT from Standish, Michigan, talked a lot about the people there and what dire straits they are in. The people in Michigan relied heavily on the automobile industry for their economy and a lot of people have lost their jobs there. I am not denying this as fact or stating that they are not facing some difficult times. I'm sure that there is some serious nail-biting going on in some households across that state. But the article was written as if there is nothing that the people themselves can do to make their lives better... and that the government needed to step in and help. 

And I quote, "As they looked to Tuesday's primary, nearly all of about two dozen people interviewed here in recent days said they were relieved to see the presidential candidates finally speaking of the financial issues that worried them every day. But many said they were also deeply skeptical of all the new economic promises: the sudden release of candidates' revitalization packages, talk of retraining programs, television commercials pledging help."

Well, thank goodness they're skeptical anyway! But why are they wanting these things to be done for them? The candidates came up with some revitalization package for Michigan? Presidential candidates? And they are talking about retraining programs? Heavens to Betsy... there are retraining programs all over the place already!! Community College is a program for retraining. The Tech schools are retraining programs. The workforce itself is a great program for retraining. What are these people waiting and hoping for, someone to tell them what they should be training for? 

The article talked about how people used to read the foreclosure notices in the newspaper for gossip (nice, huh?), but now that the section has "grown to several pages," they can no longer "bear to look." (I guess even gossip has its limits). 

I live in North Carolina. The area here is somewhat depressed... NC used to rely heavily on textiles, but those jobs went overseas. Mooresville, NC was very hard hit and people were wondering what to do several years ago. Well, the city planners got together and offered tax incentives for businesses to move into the area and they attracted large business headquarters, which helped the area immensely. Suddenly, there were jobs and even so many jobs that there were people moving into the area again. And then the fact that people moved into the area made more businesses look at the area as a "growing area" and more business came. The only unfortunate side effect to all of this is that the roadways have not kept up with growth and traffic is horrendous. 

We now live further out than Mooresville -- and don't have to deal with the traffic (YES!!), but I was very impressed with the "can-do" attitude of the city planners of Mooresville. 

I also met a gentleman in Statesville who used to work in textiles... and then one day he found that he didn't have a job in that industry anymore. Instead of folding up and crying, he decided to look around to see what was needed -- and he found that building in the area was flourishing and there was a shortage of tile and stone stores. So he decided to sell that instead. 

I guess the point of my rant today is that people can be creative and rise above troubles. But when we look to government to be the calm for our storm, we're bound to make things worse for ourselves instead of better. Not only can government not get it right, but we've also once again managed to convince ourselves that WE can't get it right, either. And next time, instead of rising up and using our own ingenuity to solve a problem, we're going to assume that how we got it wrong last time was just by electing the wrong person or the wrong party. Unfortunately, there is no political party who can get it right when it comes to fixing our woes. Government inevitably makes a monumental red-tape mess out of everything it touches, regardless of whether the plan was hatched by a Republican or a Democrat (No Child Left Behind, anyone?). We need to step up to the plate and be ready to take responsibility for ourselves -- no matter if we live in Michigan or North Carolina. 

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