Archive for the 'rants' Category

The Big Three: A case study on the reluctance to change

09150204_09.jpgNot too long ago, I heard The End Of The Line For GM-Toyota Joint Venture on NPR. I had already heard about the closure of the plant, but knew very little (actually, nothing) about the history of the plant and what it represented for the American automotive industry. This paragraph pretty much sums up the whole piece:

“In the mid-1980s, Toyota took over the Fremont plant, one of GM’s worst, a factory known for sex, drugs and defective vehicles. And as part of an historic joint venture, Toyota turned the plant into one of GM’s best, practically overnight.”

NPR reported on the history of the plant. At one point the assembly line output cars with engines in backwards, missing steering wheels or brakes, and cars with with front ends from other cars. Booze was common on the line, and nobody dared stop the line for anything. Eventually Toyota and GM partnered up to run the plant. But first they sent employees to Japan to learn Toyota’s way of doing things. Of course Toyota’s way was very different. It was pretty much the complete opposite of how GM had been run the plant. Upon reopening, the plant began producing some of the highest quality cars in America. So what did GM do next? Did they take what they had learned and apply it elsewhere? Ahh…no. In fact one of the NUMMI “Commandos” quit in frustration.

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A year later GM did try to apply what they had learned at NUMMI to other plants.  At a plant in Van Nuys nobody wanted to change.  I wasn’t shocked by the resistance to change from rank and file workers.  After all, the initial reaction by most people to criticism is defensiveness. Most do not want to be told they are doing something wrong, or even that they could be doing something better. I wasn’t even shocked to hear how one plant manager asked a NUMMI Cammando to leave the plant after a presentation on doing things the NUMMI way. Even after plants across the country began closing and GM began losing market share quickly, the resistance remained. What did shock me was the fact that upper management at GM allowed management at the plants to not change. “Who was in charge?”, one might be inclined to ask. According to the NPR story, the “plant managers were king.” I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, as this is the kind of dysfunctional leadership I’d experienced for decades in the metro Detroit area, and to be truthful, in my corporate experience elsewhere. The Big Three were just bigger and perhaps more dysfunctional than most. And unfortunately they were this dysfunctional during a profound shift in the world economy. It’s bad enough when the average person refuses to pay attention to the writing on the wall, but downright idiotic and shortsighted when leadership ignores it.

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Unfortunately this seems to be a common theme in American corporate culture. I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked about any of this. The shareholders at public companies frequently reward pathetic leadership. There is rarely any incentive lead a company toward a long term course of profitability. Instead they give big bonuses for short term profitability. Any sports fan knows that teams go through periods of mediocracy as they build toward long term competitiveness, yet in the world of high paid corporate cronyism, no one seems to give any thought to a few years down the road.  In corporate culture almost any cut seems to be rewarded. Even cuts that will harm company for years to come seem to be rewarded. Seemingly, as long as a company beats the next quarterly projection the stock goes up. And if stock goes up, shareholders are happy. And if shareholders are happy, execs get big bonuses.

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Is it any wonder my confidence in our corporate leadership ranks right down near that of our political leadership?  Now that the Big Three have possibly hit rock bottom, do they have the leadership in place, and the will to make the necessary changes? It seems that perhaps the threat of extinction has shaken enough people, in at least two of the three, that perhaps things are headed in the right direction. Too little, too late for so many. Sad that the ship has to begin sinking before the will is there to fix  the problems.

Who understands how Detroit needs to change?

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After living and working for the past two years in D.C., and Denver, Colorado, coming back to the Detroit area is a real eye opener. What was once a maddening and frustrating place to live is now just plain depressing. With the real unemployment rate estimated to be near 20% for the state, and a ridiculously high 50% for the city of Detroit, still falling real estate values (down 40% in my area, and including our house), a crumbling infrastructure, financially strapped municipalities and school districts, and a apparent 50% commercial vacancy rate (just judging by what I can see..), the metro area seems to continually worsen. Each time I come back it seems that things couldn’t get worse (even though I don’t believe the area’s hit bottom yet), yet it always does.

Living in the area, one becomes accustomed to things residents in most other areas would never imagine. Roads that get complaints in other areas, metro Detroiters can only dream about. The public transit that others complain about being crowded or expensive, doesn’t even exist here. Same with the practically non-existent bike lanes. In Denver I ride my bike everywhere, only getting in the car to make longer distance trips. It’s something that I found to be unacceptably difficult here in southeastern Michigan. When I did make a trip by bicycle here, I was that strange person riding their bike on the road carrying grocery bags; presumably some poor sap who’d had his license taken away, or who didn’t have enough money for a car. In Denver, I’m just one of many using a bicycle for, believe it or not, transportation. Imagine that… Our neighbor here in metro Detroit would drive one block to buy cigarettes.

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Driving around metro Detroit, it’s rare to see more than one or two people out getting exercise of any kind. In Denver it would be rare to see less than a dozen people exercising on my two mile ride to work. The weekly Wednesday night cruiser ride in Denver attracted up to 850 riders on a single night this past summer. Of course one has considering how many other options there are for socializing, entertainment, and outdoor activities. On any given week there will be rides, runs, creative Meetups, art openings, and just about anything else an active person under the age of 95 might enjoy. I know some of these things exist in metro Detroit, but the often long distance between them isn’t just inconvenient, but a huge waste of time, and dangerous when you consider all of the different highways one would have to travel to get from, say, Royal Oak to Ann Arbor on a weekday evening.

I have a point, beyond yet one more rant about the area. And the point is this: does anyone, who hasn’t left, or doesn’t want to leave, understand what needs to change about the metro area? Everyone knows that Michigan needs jobs. But I get the feeling that many who remain believe that those who left were weak, or quitters, or don’t like hard work. Those “quitters” who left the state, left because they had other opportunities…better opportunities, and most likely a chance at a better lifestyle. They didn’t leave because they weren’t up for a challenge. If an area offers jobs, and “opportunities” rooted in the past, and another area is embracing the future, why would I choose that challenge? If you can be on a better team, who wouldn’t choose it? Sure, some would rather be a big fish in a small pond, but this particular pond keeps getting smaller, and dirtier.

The point is often made that the area needs to bring back manufacturing jobs. I wouldn’t argue that manufacturing jobs…heck any jobs, would be good for the area. But maybe what the area really needs is to face reality. Metro Detroiters need to adapt to changing times. An education may be a good place for many to start. The claim is often made that metro Detroiters are scrappy, gritty, and hard working survivors. What mid-west city doesn’t believe that? The question is, what do survivors do when there old way of doing things doesn’t work anymore? They change their way of doing things. What did metro Detroit do when it was obvious the ways of the past were going to end soon? Nothing. Detroit made pretty much all of the same mistakes Pittsburgh has made, but unfortunately, unlike Pittsburgh, Detroit’s had very little of the fortuitous investments in other industries.

The question that should be asked, that often isn’t, is why have our young and highly educated citizens been leaving for decades? If the question was asked of every one of them, that has left the state, one would get a variety of answers from jobs to lifestyle. If you were to ask what it would take to get them to come back to metro Detroit, the answers would be equally varied, but I doubt many want to come back for traditional manufacturing jobs. Nor did many of them leave because of a lack of traditional manufacturing jobs. As a friend said the other night, “the state is a storefront. Why would anyone want to come in?”

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When time Magazine offered advertising space for a campaign designed to draw this very demographic to southeastern Michigan, they asked five large agencies to answer the question, “If I’m young, talented and creative, and open to all kinds of opportunities, why Detroit?” Take a look at the ads… My personal opinion is that these ads do a better job of answering, “if I’m young, talented and creative, and open to all kinds of opportunities, why leave Detroit?” The ads do a great job of pointing out the disconnect that exists between those who have lived here a long time, and made lots of money here, and those of a younger more mobile generation. Outside of the suburbs of Detroit, who cares about Kid Rock? It really makes me wonder, if these people even understand what types of music the target demographic listens to? I can tell you, it’s not Kid Rock. Not a single one touched on any compelling reason for someone from outside of the area, to relocated here. Why are we even asking the old guard how to attract a new generation of creative, enthusiastic, and highly motivated entrepreneurs and creatives? L. Brooks Patterson still wants to stake metro Detroit’s future on the widening of I-75 from 8 Mile to M-59. MDOT and SEMCOG still seem to believe all transportation should be done in an automobile. No bikes, no trains, no walking…again that’s for the Third World poor, such as those in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Portland, Denver, London, Brussels, and Toronto.

The morning after I arrived back in metro Detroit, we watched part of a round-table discussion on a local news show. The topic was, of course, about the area’s future. It appeared that not one of the participants was under the age of 60. Not that those over 60 have nothing to contribute. But asking only those who lived through a very different time period how we should proceed into the future misses the point entirely. We are in this situation because we (they) thought that what worked in the past would surely work in the future. If it was good enough then, it’s good enough now. Needless to say, watching did not make me feel very encouraged about the future of metro Detroit. Does anybody here, in any leadership position, with any power, or with money, get it yet? Do they understand the real issues? Do they know what it’s going to take to bring people back, or to make them stay?

Causality, fear, independent thought, and abandoned houses

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The final topic of misconception is causality. I see assumptions of cause being used far too frequently as proof of an ideology or belief, when in fact no such causal relationship exists. Two things may exist at the same time, and yet neither caused the other. You would think, with all that we know, and the all that we have achieved, as a society, that we’d be able to move beyond ridiculous assumptions due to an assumed cause and effect relationship. But, of course, such discussions and beliefs would require reasoning, facts, proof, and testing. All of which are time consuming, and may very well prove the opposite of what we feel comfortable in believing.

Causality

From Merriam-Webster’s dictionary:

1 : a causal quality or agency
2 : the relation between a cause and its effect or between regularly correlated events or phenomena

You also have to define causal, of course:

1 : expressing or indicating cause : causative <a causal clause introduced by since>
2 : of, relating to, or constituting a cause <the causal agent of a disease>
3 : involving causation or a cause <the relationship…was not one of causal antecedence so much as one of analogous growth — H. O. Taylor>
4 : arising from a cause <a causal development>

One common statement in arguments, and online forums goes something like this: “Detroit is a shit hole, therefore liberals create shit holes,” or “Republicans give tax breaks to the rich, therefore Republicans hate the poor and middle class.” Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending on whether you’re using causality in your argument), “correlation does not imply causation.” In other words, yes, Detroit is a shit hole, but claiming it’s as simple as the political persuasion of it’s citizens or leaders, is nearly as baseless as saying flies are always on meat, therefore flies come from meat. This was once a belief (spontaneous generation), along with the earth being flat, and the sun revolving around the earth. Detroit’s big problem was, and is, a reliance on one gigantic industry to provide for all, as well as an avoidance of education, broken families, poverty, and a host of other things that reside just as often in Republican run states (see Mississippi and Louisiana).

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In relation to causality, I’ve noticed a lot of blame for Michigan’s, and Detroit’s, current problems placed on one person. That person, of course, is Jennifer Granholm. I’m not here to defend our governor, but blaming more than 40 years worth of problems on one person? That’s dumb.

Jennifer Granholm may be the worst leader in the history of Michigan…or the best. It doesn’t really matter. Our current governor is not the cause of Michigan’s problems, and she won’t be the solution either. If anyone thinks Detroit’s problems began with Jennifer Granholm in 2003, they really haven’t been paying attention in the any of the last four decades. Instead of trying to find one person to blame, think about yourself. What have you done to prepare for the future?

The kind of simple causal argument that is often thrown about reminds me of this quote: “For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.” - H. L. Mencken

Along the same lines, I came across an article about creationism in Scientific American, and found this excellent response in the comments section:

“Causation and purpose are not rational subjects, neither is who what when where or why. The psychological imperative of memory creates a pattern of linear time experienced as reality, but limited by the perceptive abilities of the observer.
The result is that a human has an imagination, an ability to associate all memories, emotions, and sense perceptions with possible future consequences. This frees the cognate mind to choose potential results. It also causes the great majority of individuals to adapt whatever cultural behavior provides the most comfort and supports the identity, the personality of the individual.
The result is a social commitment to a virtual reality, in effect a reality of belief supported by communal ritual and agreement.
The belief process itself explains the ability to remain objective or to require dependence on family, tribe. or cultural ideas of reality, or virtual reality.”

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I found this comment to be especially applicable to not only religious or scientific beliefs, but political, economic, and social beliefs as well. It’s more comforting to believe that those who don’t have what you have, don’t deserve to have what you have. “They don’t work hard”, we so often hear. “They want something for nothing”. In fact I think this was the feeling someone got from a previous post, where I talked about low skilled vs. high skilled labor. I’m sure I came off as sounding as though I felt anyone who hasn’t made the changes I’ve made deserves their plight. While I think that, yes, everyone needs to look out for their own well being, and if that means making large, difficult changes to their lives, than so be it. That’s life.

On the other hand, I’ve never said anything about the amount of hard work anyone puts into their own jobs, or lives, which brings me back to comments like, “they don’t work hard”, or “I work hard for my money”. Unfortunately, I don’t know many who don’t work hard for their money, and honestly, on some days, I’d like to work a little less hard for my own. But the point is that it’s, often, easier and more comforting to believe something with no evidence than it is to look for the truth. Particularly when your circle of influence holds the same beliefs. It’s easier to believe you don’t have a job, because of those damn immigrants, than to face the reality of our changing times. It’s easier to believe race is to blame for crime than it is to face up to racism, prejudice, limited opportunities, and general societal problems.

I don’t claim to not make assumptions myself, but I certainly try to keep an open mind, and to allow myself to change my mind when reasoned and factual arguments are presented. Unfortunately, I fear that our peers too often don’t like us to change our minds on certain topics. It’s not ok to decide that the political or economic belief you once held may not, in fact, be true. Our political, racial, ethnic, and religious allegiances require us to give up some of our independent thinking in order to fit in neatly. All we you have to do is look at politicians who have made compromises to get something they believe in done. What happened to John McCain when he crossed the aisle to work with several Democrats to pass bills he believed in? He was brandished a liberal, a label that stuck with him until he won his party’s nomination.

Nothing to do with Detroit…

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I keep getting emails from people asking me to write my representatives regarding supposed things they are going to do with my money. Fortunately, every time I investigate it turns out the worrying is all for naught. It turns out in almost every case that our politicians, while admittedly self-serving, aren’t stupid enough to do the crazy things they are accused of in said emails.

This isn’t a plea to stop the emails, it’s to bring up a point. And the point is this: Some people are ignorant, due to either a lack of IQ or common sense. This is sad, but not their fault. Others choose ignorance. This is much worse.

Thank you. That is all.

Too little, too late?

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U.S. automakers agree to new fuel efficiency standards. U.S. automakers cut costs. U.S. automakers make fuel efficient vehicles. That’s great. The problem isn’t necessarily with what Big Three execs agree to now, or what they say now, it’s what has happened over the last 35, or so, years. GM, and the other American automobile manufacturers have a really bad legacy. Any other companies that were as poorly managed would be out of business. Even with a massive taxpayer bailout, GM is still filing for bankruptcy. That alone speaks volumes.

While Toyota may be hurting, it doesn’t appear they will be filing for bankruptcy. And, Honda, while posting some recent losses appears to be well positioned for the future. It’s as if the American automotive industry is given a pass for failing to plan successfully for the future. And worse yet, for failures which are often admitted, even by Wagoner himself.

It’s sad. I am still paying on a house in metro Detroit, as are others I’m sure, even while having to leave the state to make a living. We are, in effect, paying the price for the short sightedness of our political and corporate leaders. The Big Three execs seem downright excited about new fuel efficiency standards, and electric vehicles. Too bad they didn’t seem remotely interested even ten years ago, and in fact banded together to fight new CAFE standards multiple times.

The argument, by Big Three defenders, is always, “they sold what the public wanted.” Of course the truth is usually not that simple, nor is the past performance proof of future results. Just because people bought Ford Excursions when gas was $1.25/gallon, doesn’t mean they’ll buy them when gas is $3/gallon. But if we are to believe upper management at the Big Three, no one could have seen this coming. Plenty of people did, and smaller companies with less funding, fewer employees, and much less experience in the automotive industry are now leading the way in electric vehicles. While GM has long since canceled the EV1 program, companies such as Tesla, Fisker, and Detroit Electric are now either already selling, or are close to selling everything from high performance sports cars to affordable family sedans.

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You’ll often hear, that it wasn’t short sightedness. That it must be the unions fault, or perhaps it’s just a bad economy. The Big Three have been losing market share and money for much longer than this current economic downturn. Not that I’m not going to defend the UAW. I believe the UAW leadership was self-serving and short sighted, just like management, and our political leaders. I also believe that while much of the union rank and file knew the good times wouldn’t last, most just decided to get it while the getting was good. That’s a pretty short sighted game plan as well. It seems no one could see beyond the end of their nose.

So now, with Chrysler and GM going through bankruptcy, the Big Three are suddenly excited about fuel efficiency standards, controlling costs, and alternative fuel vehicles. Is it too little, too late? And opinions range from Detroit’s too excited about green cars, to the Big Three’s not embracing green cars enough, to Rick Wagoner is a scapegoat, to Rick Wagoner is to blame, to GM has too many brands, to GM should hold to brands, to Obama is doing too much, to Obama is doing too little. Nobody knows exactly what will work, or even if anything will work. Writers from many media outlets including writers from both the Washington Post and Business Week are at odds as to the reasons for the fall of the Big Three, and how to save it.

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The only thing that seems certain is that whatever the fix is, it’s at least 20 years too late. Already the stumbles of the Big Three are opening the doors even wider for foreign manufacturers. I suppose it’s human nature to wait until the roof is collapsing to attempt to fix it, but with all of the money paid to almost everyone involved, you’d hope for a better outcome. When CEOs are paid millions, you expect them to fix inefficiencies, broken business models, and foresee possible future challenges. Gas prices may not stay at $1.25/gallon, consumers may not always want really large SUVs, and the economy may not always grow at record rates. It seems that the claims that no one could see these things coming are a bit disingenuous. It seems more likely that our leaders were simply blind or ignorant. Consumers didn’t always like SUVs. In fact Jeeps were at one point just for that off road enthusiast down the street. Pickup trucks were for construction workers and hunters. Gasoline is a limited resource. We have experienced rising fuel prices several times before. Consumers couldn’t really afford $50k automobiles, but an economy that seemed good led consumers to leverage themselves to buy Hummers and Escalades (among other things). Of course the economy would slow down. It had to. Anyone who couldn’t see that, simply didn’t want to.

The truth hurts…

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I wrote this a while ago, so many of the links go to older (well, weeks old anyway) articles, but this one article made me think about actually publishing this post. A quote from the 25 year old report called “Path to Prosperity” that caught my attention: “‘We said we had to either get smart, get out’ of manufacturing ‘or get poor,’ Ross said. ‘We got poor.’” I was considering a new tone at The Motor(less) City, but what the hell; I guess it’ll have to wait.

Sometimes I get angry comments and emails about the content I put on my blog. Often times the comments are very defensive about the Metro Detroit area, and hence angry at me. In the past my rantings were really just the online equivalent of screaming into the wind. Now that some people actually read the blog, I’m confronted with the fact that not only do people not agree with me, but some are really mad at me. Not sure if I’m really comfortable with this, but I guess it’s a little late now. Yeah, the truth hurts.

Speaking of the truth hurting, it seems that people from the area, even the defensive ones are going to have to deal with some uncomfortable facts about the state, and city…and the region. Everyone (I hope) knows that Michigan’s unemployment rate is 12.6%, and Detroit’s is 22.8% (and future estimates even worse), but of course that’s not surprising. I think many in the area want to pretend that Metro Detroit is better than it is, and in fact often point out only moderately unique aspects of the area as proof of greatness. “We’re a great sports town”, people often say, or, “we’ve got great architecture.” There are two really good professional sports teams in Metro Detroit (and two pretty bad ones), and there are some very nice buildings in Detroit (the Penobscot, the Guardian, etc), but so what. What major city doesn’t have a couple of good sports teams, and some good architecture? And, really, neither of those things makes the area a good place to live.

I think this is becoming exceedingly obvious as people flee the state at a record pace. As the article clearly points out, the “young and college-educated” demographic that is leaving, is exactly the demographic that is needed to save Metro Detroit. As the population becomes older, the costs that will burden those that actually work will go up. The fight will continue over taxation, investment, and education, but it’ll all be for naught if we can’t figure out a way to attract people who create jobs instead of just those who need jobs. We aren’t going to be able to convince enough companies to come to the area to make up for all of the manufacturing jobs that have been lost, but we can make the environment more inviting to those who are the job creators.

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Some other painful truths:

The Big Three are mostly to blame for their problems. It is not just a symptom of the recent economic crisis, that no one could have seen coming. And the people in charge have not been the right ones either.

The problems in Detroit are very complex and deep rooted. Our past still haunts us. Lowering taxes isn’t a magic bullet.

The entire state is hurting, not just Metro Detroit. A quote from the article: “Michigan’s dependence on low-skill, high-paying manufacturing jobs is driving the state to the poorhouse, a new study shows.” I was a “bad” person for saying this recently.

It’s still one of the most dangerous cities in the country.

The citizens of Detroit constantly elect crooks. This one is not often disagreed with.

Good news? Well, there may be. It depends on your political persuasion.

There are some young entrepreneurial types that are doing their part to keep their own demographic from leaving the state.

The large tax incentives given to film productions in the state appear to be attracting larger and larger productions, bringing some jobs with them.

Immigrants could be the area’s future if we are open and inviting.

Stimulus dollars may help with high speed transit between Detroit and Chicago.

A new kind of crazy?

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I recently received a comment that stated, “What Detroit needs is a Free Zone with absolutely no taxation for at least a decsde in the worst part of the city. No city, no state or federal taxes of any kind.The hardest hit area of Detroit would become the most vibrant area of the country in no time.”

I sometimes wonder if people really think things through before making comments like this. I do agree that absolutely no taxes would be quite a draw to the area. But who would it attract and what would the area be like? Does this commenter believe that it will be all God fearing Christian Republicans? It’s not just conservatives that don’t like to pay taxes. Just like it’s not only liberals who like to break the law.

A completely tax free haven in the center of Detroit. Just think about it for a second… Detroit is one of poorest cities in the country with sky high crime rates, 22% unemployment, and rampant vandalism and arson. Let’s just plop a bunch of enthusiastic hippies, libertarians, and a smattering of curious liberals and conservatives in the middle of said city. And since there would be no taxes, there would be no services. No water, no sewer system, no garbage pickup. Where are you going to get a clean source of water from? Where is your human waste going to go? Are we going to have a third world city with human waste flowing through the streets? No taxes, no police. Who do you call when the roving bands of criminals come to your house. The libertarians will claim they’ll defend themselves. I’m sure the wild west would be a big draw for visitors and potential businesses. People come to this country to escape that, not to be part of it.

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What happens when the arsonists set your house on fire? Who will you call? The fire department. There won’t be one. No taxes, no fire department. Maybe you can get a bucket brigade going with the non-existent water from the non-existent water supply. I suppose you could start your own police and fire departments, build your own water and sewer infrastructure, but then you’d have to collect taxes to pay for them. If you’re going to collect taxes, you’ll have to form a government.

The fact of the matter is, the wild west makes for good stories and movies, but probably wouldn’t be enjoyable for more than a very small and very anti-social segment of the population. Think of the uni-bomber, Timothy McVeigh, and Terry Nichols. Sounds like good company. I bet the block parties would be fun. Which one of the neighbors would you let your kids play with?

Maybe I’m making assumptions though. Maybe the commenter meant that there should be no taxes but that services should still be provided. I certainly hope not though, since the commenter is dead set against wealth redistribution, which is, of course socialism, and making the surrounding population pay for his social experiment would certainly violate his own principals. It’s okay though. I know people make these types of comments because they know they’ll never happen.

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I only got on this topic because of my recent use of Twitter in which I can view a bizarre stream of consciousness in which I see things like:

“Liberals believe anyone with a gun might go crazy at any minute..”

” The law is never settled when liberals are involved”

“vermont legalizes the redefine marriage. liberals need there own country. lets start today to divide the nation into 2 or 3 nations.”

“Hey liberals, You didn’t win the 2008 elections, the GOP lost them; there’s a VERY BIG DIFFERENCE in the two!!!”

“Will the conservatives of this country ever band together? Obama is setting up this country to be destroyed by our enemies!”

“Conservatives have VALUES, MORALS, PRINCIPLES Lefties don’t. “EVERYTHING GOES” SOCIETY! Losers, complainers”

I tried to find tweets where liberals were bashing conservatives, but couldn’t find any. Oops…correction. One just popped up:

“Conservatives had 8 years to destroy civil liberties & legislate morality. Now it’s our turn”

Maybe the overwhelming number of bitter political tweets comes from conservatives (at least from my very short experience), because they’ve lost what they perceived  as control of the political direction of the country. I suppose if I’d used Twitter while George W. Bush was president, the bitter comments may have been overwhelmingly liberal. Who knows. It’s easier to relax, when your party is in power.

My point was going to be the absolute political division that our country faces today. Maybe it’s always been this bad  but has become more obvious due to modern day communication. Now you can berate your neighbor on Twitter and never have to say it to their face. You can hate “them” virtually, and act civil while you are around them physically. Pretty sad when so many think that all of the problems they, or their country face has been caused wholly by someone else. One tweeter actually supposed that the stock market went down because
Barack Obama came back to the country. Uh…that’s just dumb.

Update - I had to add links to two videos that relate to this post. Both are very good.

Baracknophobia - Very funny. Did Michelle Bachman wear her aluminum foil cap on the campaign trail, or did she only become paranoid/delusional after winning election?

Jonathan Haidt: The real difference between liberals and conservatives -  Very interesting, and to be serious, I could probably take a lesson away from this talk.

The abandoned house of the week…and what’s with all of the crazies in Detroit?

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If you’ve ever been to Michigan and thought everyone sounded angry…well, they are. Just take a look at some comments randomly picked from the websites of the Detroit News and Free Press. If this is what the state’s left with when the young and educated move away,  Michigan is screwed. It would be entertaining to read the bizarre, angry, and erratic rants if it didn’t seem like these were common sentiments among many who live there.

‘Why do the “smoking Nazi’s” out there want to ban cigarette’s you ask? Because of that dreaded fantasy called “2nd hand smoke”. What a bunch of boloney.’  - Maybe you meant ‘baloney’, as in ‘phony baloney‘? And of course that second hand smoke thing is definitely phony baloney…it’s not paranoia if they’re really after you…

‘The new carpeting, paint, the glues in your furniture and new car, all should be banned. MOUTHWASH can cause mouth cancer, are they banning THAT? Politicians that sell their votes or are just stupid, and cause economic depressions that lead to shortened life spans, are they banning THEM!? DEPLETED URANIUM weapons that turn to dust, that is being blown around the world, and back onto US, are they banning them?’ - Damn politicians leading to shortened life spans…

‘Don’t these Socialist Idiot’s in Lansing have bigger things to worry about? They better start taxing and putting bans on fast food. I get sick to my stomach when I see someone inhaling a Bigmac or Whopper in two bites. This same person is wheel chair bound, or riding a “free” scooter because their legs can not support their own weight.’ - Wow…

‘Look out everyone the DO-GOODERS are after us again. Reading some of these comments just makes me wonder if I still live in America. Who cares if someone else is smoking? The argument that it won’t hurt business is bunk! Trust if bars could make more money by becoming non-smoking, they would become non-smoking in a NY minute. This is all part of a plot by the social elitist to DO-GOOD/control the uneducated simpletons. If we would just let the overeducated, civilized elitist who knows best for us to make all the “ Common Good” rules for society imagine how lousy this state will be? Look, only an idiot smokes. But a free Nation is built via all of us putting with each other’s idiotic actions. What will be next to be banned via the DO-GOODERS? A fast food TAX, A big car tax, A tax on adult movies? Maybe then a mandatory re-educational camps for smokers and fat people, political correctness training? The mind boggles. We are in more danger from the DO-GOODERS in this nation then a 100-osama bin ladens. Even if you don’t smoke remember the saga of the old Jewish rabbi who did complain when the Nazi’s took away the gays, handicapped, communist, and other outcasts. When it was time to take the Jews, there was no one left to complain to.’ - Possibly a definition of simpleton? A smoking ban is worse than a terrorist attack?

‘Unbelievable, that Democrats still get elected in Michigan. Of course, when radical-1984Obama gets done tearing up the rest of the country, Michigan will be like everyone else. . . and unemployed socialist utopia where everyone drives 1954 Chevs like Cuba. Free food. Free heallth care. Free of that nasty rich neighbor. Free, and happy at last.’ - I don’t even know where to find a ‘54 Chevy, but I’d like one!

‘Obama = “The Audacity of Hope”
BSDoggy = “Hope is a Bad Strategy”
OBAMA HAS NO STRATEGY!!
Obama = “Change you can Believe in”
BSDoggy = Your change is just what I thought it would be - spend our way into indebted socialism, that way we will alwyas be working for the “state” to keep it from bankruptcy. Thanks Hussein.’
- Yeah, thanks Hussein…I alwyas be working for the state…

‘I HOPE THESE TWO FAT PIGS, GET SOME WEIGHT LOSS PLANS IN THE POKEY!!!’ - ???

‘As if . . . . ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,’ - ???

‘Governor Scamholm,with all due respect, shut up. You have become, by the virtue of your lack of action over the past six years, totally irrelevant to the discussion.’ - Yeah…shut up…that’s good.

‘To the Governor. Please send this to the President it is for both of you

For the amount of 4 billion dollars I can solve several financial problems.

First there are about 400,000 tax paying employed workers in the U.S.

Number 1 give each person 1 million dollars tax free.

Each person must:

#1 quit his or her employment immediately, 400,000 new jobs Unemployment solved

#2 Each individual must purchase a new U.S. made vehicle Auto problems solved

#3 each individual mus purchase a home or pay off the mortgage on their existing home.
Home sales solved.

All of this for only 4 billion dollars. As large as this figure is, it is still a pittance of what has been given away to those who will never help the working person. If the Administration wants to help then give the money to us not AIG and the auto companies.’ - According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there were approximately 150 million workers in 2008. 150 million x $1 million = $150 trillion. Even using the screwed up numbers above, 400,000 x $1 million = $400 billion, not $4 billion.

Liberals are destroying everything!!!

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Since right wing blogs continue to link to The Motor(less) City as proof that liberals are destroying the country, I’ve decided I’d have to contribute some thoughts of my own. Claiming that Democrats are the cause of Detroit’s and Michigan’s woes, is simply as much without proof as claiming Republican’s are 100% responsible for our current National economic situation. Since Governor Granholm is responsible for the state of Michigan, former president George W. Bush is obviously responsible for the mess everyone else is in. Unfortunately, picking one particular piece of the equation, and tying all responsibility to it, is simply irresponsible in itself. Before Jennifer Granholm allowed Michigan to ignore pending doom, John Engler did the same. Almost all of Michigan’s politicians failed to position the State for the future. The generally Republican business leaders of the Big 3 and other industries failed to position their own companies for the future, and they were paid millions of dollars for such wonderful leadership.

I’m not a fan of high taxes. I don’t know anyone who is. Possibly the only people who like high taxes are those who don’t pay them. Responsible spending is what we all want (or none if you’re Libertarian). “No pork”, we say! Pork is bad…unless it benefits me. But then, of course it’s not pork. It’s a tax break, or a tax credit, or a stimulus bill. Whatever it is, it’s bad when it benefits others and good when it benefits us. Remember “the bridge to nowhere“? Yeah…me too. Who were the biggest proponents of that, almost undeniably pork, monstrosity?

I tend to fall into the camp that politicians generally fall into one category: self-serving. They don’t do things for you or me, unless we’re doing something for them…though come to think of it, that tends to be all job situations doesn’t it? I guess we all just like to think that politicians may be individuals who truly believe in public service, and I suppose it may be more true if we didn’t pay them so well (including benefits and post political career opportunities). The system works like this: I (or, more likely, a big company or other large donor) give money to a politician with the implicate agreement that the politician gives something in return. Conservatives, just as often as Liberals, play the game to large success. Think farm subsidies, or “clean coal” incentives.

Feel free to link to my site.  But if you simply want to use a photo as proof of some unsubstantiated belief, and you have no background information about the image, or the location it’s from…please, do some homework first. At least present your point of view with some facts. And my feelings on this are not limited to conservative blogs, but extend to any blog. Do yourself and your readers a favor. Do some of your own research. Then link to my site. And if I print a bunch of unsubstantiated b.s., please point it out. I may not agree, or change it, but I would appreciate it.