Letters 10-17-2016

Here’s The Truth The group Save our Downtown (SOD), which put Proposal 3 on the ballot, is ignoring the negative consequences that would result if the proposal passes. Despite the group’s name, the proposal impacts the entire city, not just downtown. Munson Medical Center, NMC, and the Grand Traverse Commons are also zoned for buildings over 60’ tall...

Keep TC As-Is In response to Lynda Prior’s letter, no one is asking the people to vote every time someone wants to build a building; Prop. 3 asks that people vote if a building is to be built over 60 feet. Traverse City will not die but will grow at a pace that keeps it the city people want to visit and/or reside; a place to raise a family. It seems people in high-density cities with tall buildings are the ones who flock to TC...

A Right To Vote I cannot understand how people living in a democracy would willingly give up the right to vote on an impactful and important issue. But that is exactly what the people who oppose Proposal 3 are advocating. They call the right to vote a “burden.” Really? Since when does voting on an important issue become a “burden?” The heart of any democracy is the right of the people to have their voice heard...

Reasons For NoI have great respect for the Prop. 3 proponents and consider them friends but in this case they’re wrong. A “yes” vote on Prop. 3 is really a “no” vote on..

Republican Observations When the Republican party sends its presidential candidates, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people with a lot of problems. They’re sending criminals, they’re sending deviate rapists. They’re sending drug addicts. They’re sending mentally ill. And some, I assume, are good people...

Stormy Vote Florida Governor Scott warns people on his coast to evacuate because “this storm will kill you! But in response to Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that Florida’s voter registration deadline be extended because a massive evacuation could compromise voter registration and turnout, Republican Governor Scott’s response was that this storm does not necessitate any such extension...

Third Party Benefits It has been proven over and over again that electing Democrat or Republican presidents and representatives only guarantees that dysfunction, corruption and greed will prevail throughout our government. It also I believe that a fair and democratic electoral process, a simple and fair tax structure, quality health care, good education, good paying jobs, adequate affordable housing, an abundance of healthy affordable food, a solid, well maintained infrastructure, a secure social, civil and public service system, an ecologically sustainable outlook for the future and much more is obtainable for all of us...

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Random Thoughts/ Tough choices for Michigan

Robert Downes - September 21st, 2009
Random Thoughts
Robert Downes 9/21/09

Tough Choices for Michigan

We’re very lucky here in Michigan that we still have something of a social safety net to care for the poor and people who are down on their luck. About 450,000 jobless residents are riding out the recession on
unemployment insurance at present, with tens of thousands of others getting by on
disability payments.
By contrast, I recall giving a coin to a leper sitting on a street corner in one of the most prosperous cities in India. The old man didn’t have any fingers on either hand -- just white stubs at the end of his palms -- and he sat all day long on the filthy pavement, begging in the 95-degree sun as thousands brushed past.
That’s India’s social safety net: beg or die. And that’s the reality in much of our world, where the very idea of a ‘social safety net’ is an inconceivable luxury.
One can’t help but wonder if Michigan is heading in that same dog-eat-dog direction as a result of the ‘Great Recession.’ Particularly in some of our towns: Flint, Muskegon Heights, Detroit... that have come to resemble Third World cities.
Michigan faces its budget deadline on September 30 with a deficit of $1.8 billion, and about the best one can say about it is thank God we’re not California, where their budget shortfall is at least 10 times worse.
Unfortunately, many of the budget cuts needed to keep Michigan solvent will come at the expense of the poor, with cutbacks in many social programs. Some feel that the state’s social safety net is in tatters.
In August, the Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) was one of 27 social service organizations that sent a letter to Gov. Granholm and the Legislature stating that the “shared pain” approach to handling the shortfall in this year’s budget is a “moral and legislative failure.”
An executive order by Granholm cut $304 million from Michigan’s budget, half of which was from the departments of Community Health and Human Services, both of which provide basic support for low-income children and their families.
“Our message to the public and the Legislature is ‘enough is enough’, the state can no longer continue to tear apart the state’s social safety net to resolve the budget deficit,” said MCC Vice President for Public Policy Paul A. Long in a statement on the cuts.
Anyone who’s ever benefited from the Father Fred Foundation in the Grand Traverse area can appreciate the heroic outpouring of sharing, love and volunteerism by this Catholic relief organization. Father Fred is often the last best hope for thousands of people who are down on their luck in Northern Michigan when help is needed with a utility bill, a home, or obtaining food. The organization was strained to the limit long before the current recession kicked in.
So when the Michigan Catholic Conference says things are in a bad way, we have a solid assurance that they are on the front line of providing aid to the poor and know whereof they speak.
Currently, the MCC claims that “10 percent of all families in Michigan and nearly one in five children are in poverty.” Many others are in a risky economic situation.
Cutbacks in early childhood education, school aid and child care are particularly disturbing because many studies show that children need to be reached early and often to guarantee their success as adults.
According to the Early Childhood Investment Corporation, 85 percent of a child’s brain is formed by the age of three. Malnutrition, along with lack of love and stimulus, can cause lifelong problems. Yet, 45 percent of births in Michigan are to single women below the poverty line who are ill-equipped to educate or care for their kids. It’s estimated that 10,000 young children suffered from neglect in 2006 and that 60 percent of kids entering kindergarten in Michigan “don’t have appropriate social and emotional skills.”
Thus, a child’s success or failure may be dependent upon programs such as Head Start or day care. This is a concern for us all, because the child who grows up illiterate and drops out of school today becomes the dysfunctional, unemployable adult of tomorrow with all of the social problems that come with that baggage.
Similarly, a proposal to cut between 20-57 percent in the State’s general budget would have a devastating effect on mental health programs across Michigan.
“The proposed cuts will force Community Mental Health boards to eliminate services and turn away people who have nowhere else to go,” said Mike Vizena, executive director of the boards’ association. “Thousands of persons across the state will not receive the type of mental health and substance use disorder treatment services they need and the state will see increased costs in facilities, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, homelessness and criminal justice settings.”
Of note, Michigan will be cutting its budget for mental health at a time when our agencies are reporting increases of 15-20 percent for services such as depression “due to job losses, loss of private health insurance coverage, home foreclosures and other stressors caused by the current economy in Michigan.”
Needless to say, there are many other concerns relating to the budget cuts: prison closures and cutbacks in law enforcement; the closure of the State Library; cuts in
What’s the solution? Easy answer there: a nation or state has to generate sufficient resources as the result of a robust economy to afford the kind of social programs that would be considered a luxury in lands such as India.
On the other hand, they certainly don‘t have 45 percent of births to single, impoverished women in India -- as is the claim for Michigan -- so maybe they know something that we don‘t about social programs.
For now, Michigan still has a whistle and a prayer for providing some vestige of a social safety net, but unless we get our economy fired up again, we’re likely to see beggars on the streets and the kind of social problems that can’t even be imagined today.
For starters, that means buying American, and especially buying products made in Michigan.

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