Letters

Letters 11-28-2016

Trump should avoid self-dealing President-elect Donald Trump plans to turn over running of The Trump Organization to his children, who are also involved in the transition and will probably be informal advisers during his administration. This is not a “blind trust.” In this scenario Trump and family could make decisions based on what’s best for them rather than what’s best for the country...

Trump the change we need?  I have had a couple of weeks to digest the results of this election and reflect. There is no way the selection of Trump as POTUS could ever come close to being normal. It is not normal to have a president-elect settle a fraud case for millions a couple of months before the inauguration. It is not normal to have racists considered for cabinet posts. It is not normal for a president-elect tweet outrageous comments on his Twitter feed to respond to supposed insults at all hours of the early morning...

Health care system should benefit all It is no secret that the health insurance situation in our country is controversial. Some say the Affordable Care Act is “the most terrible thing that has happened to our country in years”; others are thrilled that, “for the first time in years I can get and afford health insurance.” Those who have not been closely involved in the medical field cannot be expected to understand how precarious the previous medical insurance structure was...

Christmas tradition needs change The Christmas light we need most is the divine, and to receive it we do not need electricity, probably only prayers and good deeds. But not everyone has this understanding, as we see in the energy waste that follows with the Christmas decorations...

CORRECTIONS & CLARIFICATIONS 

A story in last week’s edition about parasailing businesses on East Grand Traverse Bay mistakenly described Grand Traverse Parasail as a business that is affiliated with the ParkShore Resort. It operates from a beach club two doors down from the resort. The story also should have noted that prior to the filing of a civil lawsuit in federal court by Saburi Boyer and Traverse Bay Parasail against Bryan Punturo and the ParkShore Resort, a similar lawsuit was dismissed from 13th Circuit Court in Traverse City upon a motion from the defendant’s attorney. Express regrets the error and omission.

A story in last week’s edition about The Fillmore restaurant in Manistee misstated Jacob Slonecki’s job at Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course. He was a cook. Express regrets the error.

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · College & the middle...
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College & the middle class

Robert Downes - August 9th, 2010
College & the Middle Class
Several years ago, I hurt a reader’s feelings by reporting on the
amount of income it takes to be considered “middle class” in America
these days.
I can’t remember the amount now -- it was probably some arbitrary
figure cooked up by an economics professor.
But I do remember the crushed look on her face as she said, “If that’s
how much money you need to earn, then I’m no longer in the middle
class.”
To a single mom trying to get by on two part-time jobs, the income
level I reported in my column was a barrier to hope and the American
dream.
Being in the middle class is a very big deal in America because it
means you’re “okay.” You haven’t slipped or been left behind. You’re
still a contender for the American dream of owning a home in a nice
part of town and providing for your family. Being middle class means
having enough money to have no worries for retirement -- something
that is increasingly a fleeting dream.
The reader’s words left an impression, and inspired me to revise my
definition of what it is to be middle class in America. You see,
although she had a limited income barely above the minimum wage, she
was somehow figuring out a way to send her daughter through college.
Perhaps that was with the help of grants, loans, and urging her kid to
take up the slack with part-time work and summer jobs, but somehow,
she was making it happen.
So I’m no economist, but that has since become my measure of whether a
person is in the middle class: if they have the wherewithal to somehow
get their kid through college by hook or by crook.
What is money anyway? Many of us know people making six figures who
are house poor from three mortgages and neck-deep in credit card and
auto debt. Ironically, in America, you can be “rich” and widely
considered to be a member of the “upper” middle class and still be
poverty-stricken -- a slave to your Lexus payment and your six-bedroom
mansionnette.
But to get a kid through college -- that takes good old-fashioned
middle-class values of hard work and gumption, brass-tacked to your
workboots (or high heels, as the case may be).
And these days, getting a kid through school is brutal. In addition
to the recession, there are factors such as rising tuition, housing
and food costs, and fewer student jobs to go around.
It lends credence to the calls from some sectors of academia to end
the traditional 4-year college undergrad education in favor of a
3-year degree. Why? Because many middle class parents and students
can no longer afford to go the distance for a 4-year degree.
Especially when today’s 4-year degrees are packed with dubious
elective courses, the need for which defies the economic realities of
our times.
I can’t imagine what sacrifices parents are going through to send
their kids to schools where the annual bill is $30,000 or more. My
wife and I were determined to spare our daughter the serfdom of
student loans when she graduates and we’ve paid the equivalent of a
nice starter home to her business college so far, just for a two-year
degree.
Obviously, as any college grad or parent knows, the money we’ve
spent and the years of learning won’t guarantee a job in our
daughter’s hoped-for profession. What we’ve paid for runs more along
the lines of an experience, memories, and a chance at a good career.
Just a chance.
A chance, perhaps, to remain in the middle class, and someday pass on
the opportunity to a child of her own.

Carp Diem
Over the past few months, sportsmen, environmentalists and political
leaders have warned of the threat of the Asian carp making its way
into Lake Michigan via the waterways from the Mississippi River.
But no one’s been watching Lake Michigan’s “back door.”
Weighing up to 100 lbs., the carp are aquatic eating machines,
scooping up algae and plankton. The fear is that if they make their
way into the Great Lakes, they‘ll consume the lower end of the food
chain, starving trout and other fish species out of existence.
“They’re like the locusts of the river,” says David Ullrich, executive
director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.
While attempts are (slowly) underway to block passage of the carp
through the canals and waterways of Chicago, a new threat has arisen
far to the east.
The Wildlife Volunteer, a publication of the Michigan Wildlife
Conservancy, notes that Asian carp have been found in Lake Erie as far
back as 1995. A carp was also captured in a commercial net off Point
Pelee in
Ontario in 2000.
It’s believed that the carp were released from private ponds in Ohio,
or released by individuals in Toronto, where a large China town
provides a market for the fish.
This is sort of like getting flattened by a misguided driver on a
one-way street while you’re watching for traffic coming from the right
direction. We need to start looking both ways if we’re going to send
the Asian carp packing.

 
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