Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Exploratory surgery...
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Exploratory surgery 4/4/11

Robert Downes - April 4th, 2011
Exploratory Surgery
Remember the days of exploratory surgery? Probably not if you’re under the
age of 40, but in the days before the CT scan came into wide use back in
the ’70s, and certainly long before MRIs, surgeons had little choice but
to open you up and peek around at your innards if something like a tumor,
hernia, or internal bleeding was suspected.
Of course, this was a dangerous and uncertain form of diagnosis, fraught
with the risk of infection and sure to leave you with a painful surgical
wound with no guarantee that the surgeon would even find anything.
Perhaps it’s a misplaced metaphor, but I can’t help thinking that our new
Governor Rick Snyder is wearing those same bloody shoe covers in the
operating room of the state capital, trying to find out why his patient is
hemorrhaging and how to pump life back into Michigan before our state dies
on the table.
The difference of course, is that we don’t need exploratory surgery to
tell us why Michigan is in trouble: we have unfunded mandates with no
money to pay for them; we’ve suffered the loss of much of our
manufacturing base, along with their tax revenues; we’ve got too many
prisoners in our corrections system to house and feed; and most recently,
we’ve got a declining census, to name a few.
So personally, I’ve withheld judgement on some of the things Gov. Snyder
has proposed, because this is the point in the show where Drs. Kildare,
Grey and Ross are screaming for more crash carts, clamps and tourniquets
in what can only be a dangerous operation with an uncertain outcome.
If nothing else, our new governor has people talking. Between the flood of
letters to newspapers across the state and the protests in Lansing, we’re
discussing Michigan’s direction as we’ve never done before.
Some of what Gov. Snyder has proposed strikes me as ill-advised. Recently,
for instance, George Clooney was in Ann Arbor and Clawson filming his
latest, The Ides of March. The film employed 1,000 extras in Ann Arbor and
surely pumped some dollars into the state economy, as did the new release,
Cedar Rapids, which was also filmed in Michigan. So is it wise to cap the
tax credits on Michigan’s film industry just when it’s starting to show
promise? We need more glamour in our state, not less, and that’s an
intangible benefit that should be considered.
Then there’s his idea for licensing more coal plants in Michigan. That’s
not very forward-looking, and Snyder campaigned in part on his “green”
On the other hand, it’s hard to believe that ending the earned income tax
credit for “the poor” will actually make much of a difference to people in
that situation, as protesters claim. And taxing pensions at the much
reduced state rate (compared to the federal tax on pensions) sounds like a
sensible idea, considering that other states are doing the same. After
all, as guest opinion writer Michael Estes notes elsewhere in this issue,
the 401k’s of those of us who don’t have pensions are taxed.
As for Snyder’s idea of Emergency Financial Managers taking over
municipalities and school systems that are train wrecks, that’s a
dictatorship plain and simple.
But how do you fix something like the Detroit Public Schools, which had a
budget deficit of $363 million last year and a dropout rate of 75% of its
students, despite all of the tax dollars we shovel in its direction?
What about Detroit and Flint, which have degenerated into third world
cities, notorious for their political stagnation? Will their suffering
residents protest if an Emergency Financial Manager steps in to improve
their lives?
The funny thing about Gov. Snyder is that he’s a Republican and claims to
be a conservative, yet some of his solutions would be blasted as being
radically liberal -- even Marxist -- if they had been proposed by a
Democrat. Can you imagine the grief that Republicans would have rained
down if Gov. Granholm had suggested taxing pensions as a way out of
Michigan’s problems?
Each election cycle, many of us promise that we’ll vote for “change.” We
toss out the old, ineffectual governors and legislators and vote for the
person who convinces us that he or she has that “change” thing down in
But as with surgery, “change” can be a synonym for “pain.” Change doesn’t
mean we get promised a rose garden -- it means we get promised the thorns.
Gov. Snyder is the change we voted for; right or wrong, he’s shown us that
healing Michigan will be a painful process.

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