Archive for September, 2007

Leaving Detroit

The other day I stopped by a friend and colleagues place to pick something up. We don’t talk all that often, and when we do, he’s generally pretty upbeat about Detroit, and the Metro area. This time he mentioned several times that he was considering moving to some other place. He didn’t really know where at this point, but he didn’t see a lot of benefit in staying either.

I’ve always wanted to leave Detroit, and have done so several times. Yeah, I’m here now, but, I’m always thinking about the next place to move to, so it’s not surprising for someone like myself to be talking about moving. But it’s actually a little sad, and scary, to hear someone who’s spoken up for Detroit for so long suddenly talking about moving away.

Personally, I often feel torn. It’s not that I have a great love for the area, but most of my family and friends are here. I make a living here too, though, I’m confident that if I can make it here, I certainly can make it in a more economically robust area as well. The discussion the other evening did what so many things do lately. It made me seriously think about trying to sell the house (I know…me and half the population of area home owners…), and getting the heck out of here. If I wait, is the situation only going to get worse? Will I be able to find some kind of opportunity in the wreckage to make sticking it out worth it?

To stay or to go? I’ve got to listen to the little voice in my head. It’s usually right…

Smokers suck

Alright two posts in one day. Why? Because I’m pissed off!

One big difference between Metro Detroit and other areas I like better is the attitude of smokers. Here, it’s a God given right to blow your smoke in others faces. And when you’re done doing that, you can throw your cigarette butt on the ground. Apparently in Metro Detroit a cigarette butt is not garbage. Hey idiots, have you ever heard of an ash tray? They come in every car. No need to throw your butts out the window.

We went to Denver, one of our favorite cities, for vacation, and spent time walking around downtown. The whole day we only came across one smoker. As she walked by she finished up her cigarette. Instead of the usual Detroiter action of throwing the butt on the ground, she bent over (a series of joints that collectively make up the waist that allows this function in advanced human beings) and put her cigarette out on the pavement. Then she stood up straight again, and put the cigarette in the garbage ( which by the way wasn’t overflowing into the street like the ones in Royal Oak usually are)! It was like the clouds broke, heavenly music began playing, and sun beams shown down on us. I couldn’t believe that a smoker could actually act civilized! I’d rarely seen such behavior, and certainly never in Detroit. Next time you stop at a light on Woodward (or any street for that matter), take a look down at the street. Does it look like sh*t? Probably. Do you see thousands of cigarette butts? Probably.

Why don’t people like it here? Yeah, that’s real hard to figure out. Robert Merton wrote about the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy once. Metro Detroiters, by making the area they live in so crappy that no one wants to be here (other than themselves), are creating there own self-fulfilling prophecy where no one wants to live here, and they’ll be able to blame it all on those who have left, while they sit and stew in their burned out shell of a city.

The other night I went for a run. As I ran near Beaumont Hospital, I ran through three clouds of smoke from hospital employees who had to leave the premises to smoke. While I applaud Beaumont’s smoke free policy, I can’t imagine Beaumont putting up with other addictions that interfere with worker productivity. Imagine a sex addict having to take four breaks a day to go have sex for half an hour at a time. The argument that it’s “my right” is complete B.S. There are plenty of things that are your right to do, as long as they don’t interfere with your job, don’t take place during work hours, don’t harm the health of others, and don’t make the employer look bad. Smoking in the surrounding neighborhood does all of these things. If Beaumont’s smokers can’t keep their smoking to before and after work, they should be fired. There are plenty of non-smoking workers who can get more work done in a day, have lower health costs, and need the work just as badly. Hire them. If a smoker wants their job badly, they’ll quit smoking, which Beaumont should be happy to help fund, or they’ll use a nicotine patch during the day, or they’ll manage to make it through a full work day without indulging they’re addiction.

Metro Detroit bars and restaurants are fighting a smoking ban that is already in affect in places such as California, New York, Ireland, and Italy. New York and California, at least, have reported that business is up. As a former smoking relative from California told me, “it allowed non-smokers to actually go to the bar, and enjoy it, and it didn’t stop smokers like myself from going.” Get in the game Detroit. Don’t be an ass backward, backwater, down and out, stick in the mud, ignorant outpost. Please…

VW is leaving Detroit

I heard that on the news last night. I haven’t gone and looked it up yet, because I’m betting that the first report I find about VW leaving, will be followed by loads of angry comments blaming Gov. Granholm for it. Just a moment. I’ll go look now.

Wow, talk about angry rhetoric. Seriously, this is what one comment said:

Michigan is economically dead last.
Extreme liberalism and Bolshevism has failed this state.
Imprison the leaders of the left. Cut all Detroiters off the welfare rolls.
Dismantle the UAW.

Thanks, “stinkpig” (yes that’s what he calls himself). So insightful. One blamed Granholm for not regulating the companies enough, though most say Michigan regulates companies too much. What’s so pathetic is those who want to blame one person for all of Michigan’s problems would never blame George Bush for all of the country’s problems. Blaming Jennifer Granholm for all of the area’s problems is not only stupid and wrong, it’s also unhelpful, and probably actually harmful to the area. So what’s the problem? The problem is YOU! Well o.k., not you, you, but the other “yous”, who are probably not even reading this (as if anyone does). The problem is this area sucks, and has sucked for as long as I can remember. It doesn’t suck because of the geography, or even the climate, (though many would argue those two points), it’s the people. Of course it’s not all the people, just the average person who finger point, yet don’t contribute, and don’t want to change (yes, getting a college degree really is a good idea). This area is conservative, and I’m not talking about values. Look up the definition of conservative, and re-read the part about seeking to preserve the status-quo. VW is not the problem. VW is progressive, and progress is not welcome in such a conservative area.

Why does the area suck so much? As I’ve said many times, it’s not the “area”, it’s the people. I just read this on The writer talks about getting out of your “seat”, in a figurative manner, and trying something new, experiencing something new, meeting new people, and in general seeing things from a new perspective. It reminded me of Detroit. Every time I talk about how great other places I’ve been to or live are, I get someone interjecting how much they love Detroit, and how great it is. “Well, o.k., so the crime’s bad, but you know, there’s good sports teams, and the people are friendly.” What they mean is, “I’m comfortable here, and change scares me. Usually the person saying this is someone who hasn’t had a different job in years, goes on vacation only to places that they know, eat at the same restaurants every time, and have most likely never lived anywhere else. So of course they don’t know what they’re talking about. Here’s a newsflash. People are friendly everywhere! In fact friends from New York asked me why everyone was so unfriendly here. I said people are bitter. They had a good thing going, and they didn’t really have to do anything, and now they’ve had their good thing taken away, and they don’t have a clue as to what to do. They won’t try a new “seat.” The unknown is scarier to them then the shi*ty situation they’re already in.

This is why VW, and anyone who is slightly progressive, is getting the heck out of town. Michigan’s in trouble because we rely on one industry, and three companies to provide the entire economy of the area. Without the Big Three, were would Detroit be? Where are the entrepreneurs? Sure you can find a few, but a thriving area has thousands. And I’m not talking about someone who started a lawn care company, I’m talking about progressive entrepreneurial-ism. We just don’t have it, period. Anyone who feels the way I do is itching to get out. Those who liked Detroit the way it was can stay. They can blame all those who are leaving for there problems, or they can do something about it. My guess is they’ll blame those who leave, and won’t fix it.

Oh yeah, one more thing. It’s not the taxes you idiots! Michigan ranks right in the middle as far as business taxes go, and it ranks pretty darn well as far as individual taxes go. There are two states in particular that have great economies, but rank way below Michigan. They would be New York, and California. If it was taxes, those two states would be in our situation, and they’re not.