Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We're Michigan and Most of Us Don't Deserve This

 Michigan, our wonderful, beautiful jewel of a state--the only state in the union that looks like a mitten reaching up to grab a leaping rabbit, the only state surrounded on three sides by three different really Great Lakes, the only state that can lay claim to both Vernor's Ginger Ale and Sanders Hot Fudge Sauce, has been in the news a lot lately.




 Not because we've finally been discovered and people are wondering how they could possibly have overlooked us (Weather Channel, I'm talking to you. Bad weather travels from the northern plains to NEW YORK CITY! via a route through Michigan.  There's no getting around it), but because on January 1, 2011 Richard Dale Snyder ("Rick", because, you know, he's just--aaaw--Rick) was sworn in as Governor.

Nothing unusual about a new governor being sworn in in early January, but this particular brand-new governor raised hackles in some circles (okay, in nearly ALL circles outside the corporate honchos and people still having Tea Parties in the midst of the rubble) by stepping off the podium and almost instantaneously barking orders to annihilate anyone outside his own elite space who thought they might be entitled to a taxpayer-funded public education, or wages beyond the truly laughable, or even a retirement free of toil and strife.

For most people bent on taking over an entire state that might have been enough, but some days later this man Rick found the Holy Grail.  An existing Financial Emergency Manager Law that he and his Republican-led legislature then got to work enhancing and extending until it no longer would only be used in--okay--emergencies, but could be tweaked to kill the unions, take over public education and. . .oh, let's say. . .fire duly elected officials in cities and towns that may or may not have potentially fatal fiscal wounds but do have too many poor people and thus can't keep the Gov and his court in the style to which they've become accustomed.

Robert Bobb (true name) has been the Emergency Financial Manager for the city of Detroit since 2009.  I don't know how well he was doing in that job before the EFM act gave him infinite powers, but he's apparently rubbing his hands in glorious anticipation of being able to do away with 53 Public Schools, either by outright closings or mergings or switching them to charter status.  (Rachel Maddow has been reporting on one of them--The Catherine Ferguson Academy, a school for teen mothers.  After learning their school was targeted for closing, the students staged a quiet sit-in and, for their efforts, were handcuffed and taken away by the police, causing enough commotion (not by the students) to make the story go national. Thank you, Rachel--and everyone else who picked up the story and ran with it.  Everything that happens in Michigan mustn't--must not--stay in Michigan.  We need to shout it to the mountaintops.  We're under attack and we can't pretend it's all pretend.  It's not.

As Todd A. Haywood reported in Michigan Messenger yesterday, The Mackinac Center for Public Policy,  home of Michigan's Randian Tea Party, really is a part of the Vast Right Wing Free Market Think Tank Conspiracy.  They've joined up with Sauron in the Dark Tower to seek out and destroy anything resembling entitlement programs, government-sponsored good works, university professors' emails in support of beleaguered Wisconsin, and more importantly, labor unions.  Their goal is small government and their method is to fire all municipal officials and put an "emergency financial manager"--one person--in their place.  One person will run everything, making every decision without fear of being fired or losing elections.  It's the Fascist version of "we're not a Democracy, we're a Republic".
  
This group, State Policy Network, is working at installing a host of compliant soldiers posing as Leaders of the People in all 50 states.  Their purpose:  to guarantee the complete and total privatization of these United States of America.  So far they've managed to enlist the governors of Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana, all of whom are not in the least shy about expressing their fascination with the mission they've chosen to accept.

In Michigan, Governor Ricky is in direct competition with Wisconsin's Governor Scotty to see who can take down whose state first.  At first glance you might be inclined to say "boys will be boys", but you mustn't forget the Eye of Sauron watching their every move.  (Here I'll repeat:  Vast Right Wing Conspiracy)

More to chew on:

If two members of the legislature get their way, Michigan's foster kids will have to get their back-to-school clothing from thrift stores because Michigan could save a lot of money that way.  I loved this part but you have to read the whole thing by Susan G. Demas:


So what's behind these moves by the Legislature? Well, the two DHS panel chairs both live in relatively homogeneous and very conservative enclaves in the state.

[Bruce] Caswell is a Calvinist who's never had to deal much with Democrats or people with other views on social issues, taxes or government services. He believes he's doing the right thing and rooting out inefficiencies in the budget.

[Dave] Agema ... well, his general philosophy can be summed up in his solution for overworked welfare caseworkers. Rather than hire more workers or work to speed up paperwork processing times, the goat killer suggested that DHS employees be armed with guns to subdue any unruly welfare queens.

Sen. Coleman Young II (D-Detroit) once flippantly described Republicans' attitude toward the poor and unemployed as: "Too bad. It sucks to be you." 

Who thinks like this?  What kind of person sits around thinking about poor, dispossessed kids and, instead of wondering what he/she can do to make things better for them, concludes that money could be saved if they wore second-hand Government-issue clothes?  And what kind of person is then surprised when reasonable people say, "Hold it right there. . .".   And who then would say in response, they probably don't spend it on clothing anyway, and "I think the hardship is negligible"?

(Newsflash:  They're rethinking this, after a really soul-satisfying (on my part), all-out blogospheric blast attack against it.  Looky here:

Senator Caswell initially proposed issuing a gift card for the clothing allowance for resale shops in order to ensure the money would actually go toward purchasing clothing. After a suggestion from a constituent, he plans to draft an amendment to the proposal that would direct the state to work with major retailers to create a gift card program that would ensure the clothing allowance money only purchases clothing and shoes at their stores. Furthermore, the amendment will direct DHS to negotiate with the retailers for a discount on those clothing items purchased with the allowance in order to get the best deal for the recipients.

Okay, I'm exhausted.  But one last thing.  You know how Gov. Ricky gave supreme power to one lone Emergency Financial Manager in poorest of the poor Benton Harbor?  Yes?  And how they fired everybody (see links above) and then poured salt in the wounds by demoting them to secretarial duties, like taking minutes at meetings?  Yes? Well, Gov. Ricky will be visiting Benton Harbor on May 7.  No, he won't be looking around to see how well his plan is working. Or to see what else he can do to lift that poor town out of its misery.  No. He'll be Grand Marshal of  Blossomtime's Grand Floral Parade.  The parade route will start in St. Joseph:


And end in Benton Harbor:



This is clueless to the absolute ultimate.  This is Nero fiddling while Rome burns.  This is the New America.

So the way I see it, we either get used to it or we fight like hell to end this onslaught.  I know us.  We don't plan on ever getting used to it.

Michigan Labor Legacy Landmark, "Transcending"

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2 comments:

Distortion not Noise said...

You have my sympathies and moral support in your efforts to reverse the damage, but please don't forget that some majority or plurality of your population elected him as Governor.

Kulkuri said...

Did "Rick" run any ads of his own after the primary or were they all by RGA and others on his behalf??

Good post. I am looking forward to signing a recall petition when I am back UP on the Tundra in a month or so.