Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · We‘re moving to...
. . . .

We‘re moving to Europe...

Robert Downes - December 1st, 2008
We‘re moving to Europe...
Has anyone noticed that America is starting to look more like Europe lately?
Not that we’re sprouting castles or seeing women going topless at the beach, but there are some trends toward the Europeanization of America that are worth watching. Some good, and some ennh...
Ten years from now, you may wake up and find that you have all of the advantages of a citizen of Paris or Budapest -- and all of the disadvantages too. Consider the following:

Micro cars: You’d swear that most of the cars in Europe aren’t much bigger than shopping carts. And no wonder, because gas hit $12 a gallon in England last summer. Plus, those small cars are more practical in Europe’s congested cities.
Closer to home, Northern Michigan is still the land of giant SUVs and pickup trucks. But the trend is toward smaller cars, especially with the new electric models coming in 2010. Perhaps 10 years from now, European-style Mini Coopers and Smart Cars will be the norm.

Home ownership: America is famous the world over as a land of 75 million homeowners. According to realtor.org, more than two out of three households own their own home -- a rate of more than 67 percent. Home ownership hit 60 percent for minorities in America in 2005 -- an admirable record anywhere in the world.
The 490 million people who live in the European Union, however, are more likely to be renters living in apartments. Even in the prosperous Netherlands, only 48 percent of households own their homes; in Greece, it’s 30 percent.
Unfortunately, the mortgage crisis and job losses are pushing more Americans in that direction, especially for young adults who are already strapped with college loans. Will we become a nation of renters like our European cousins?

Health Care: Sweden has had nationalized health care for most of the 20th century and they’re a healthy bunch, with men living an average of 78 years and women 82. The Swedes tend to exercise, eat healthy, and avoid smoking.
President-elect Barack Obama has promised that we too will have national health care, as is the case for the citizens of most of the 27 countries that make up the European Union.
That’s the good news. The bad news is there’s a high price to pay. The Swedes laid out the equivalent of $25 billion for health care in 2005. How? Their system is funded through local taxation, with county councils having the right to collect an income tax of around 11 percent on top of all the other taxes the Swedes pay -- the highest taxes in the world.
Imagine Emmet or Grand Traverse County sending you an income tax bill of 11 percent to pay for your health care... Then imagine your average American being half as healthy as your average Swede and the extra health care costs for all of our homegrown couch potatoes.

Mass Transit: In Europe, you can go to virtually any village on a train or a bus. If we were to transpose their transit systems to America, then even trips to small towns such as Suttons Bay, Northport, Wolverine and Alanson would be by train, as was the case in the 19th century.
Will those days come again? Possibly. If Obama is able to jump-start the economy, it will be with a $500 billion plan that calls for heavy investment in alternative energy and mass transit among other “green” initiatives.
Northern Michigan would be wise to begin lobbying for some of that public works investment money now. But unlike the clueless Big 3, we need a plan to present... how about a regional train system?

Alternative Power: Denmark produces nearly 20 percent of its electricity from windmills and has cut its carbon emissions by 22 percent since 1988. Increasingly, there are plans to blow Michigan down that same path with the abundance of wind power on the Great Lakes. One plan calls for as many as 100,000 windmills in the state.
In France, however, the alternative is nuclear power. France gets 80 percent of its power from 58 reactors and has made a robust industry out of exporting its nuclear know-how.
Prediction: America will follow suit with both nuclear and wind power schemes as climate change becomes more dire.

Other stuff: You have to “pay to pee” everywhere you go in Europe, with bathroom attendants collecting a coin in every public john. Would anyone be surprised if the same trend took root in America as overburdened municipalities find they can no longer afford public rest-rooms?
Also, like the Europeans, soon, we may find ourselves with more weeks of vacation (albeit unpaid). A citizen of Western Europe gets four-to-six weeks off each year, with the French getting as much as eight weeks of vacation, including the entire month of August.
Unfortunately, our extended vacations are more likely to come in the form of companies and municipalities that are forcing employees to take time off without pay to cope with shrinking budgets...
 
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