Sunday, February 25, 2007

Memes and Cheap Goods

Today, I went to the BIG Kmart for garbage bags, but came back with something else.

While the Michigan economy struggles, "we" are at war. "We" are asked to make sacrifices. Some of us have lost jobs; others have lost family members to the "war" in Iraq.

Some of us are able to shop for household goods and clothing at malls like the Somerset Collection, browsing Lucky Brand Jeans, Luis Vuitton, Saks, Pottery Barn Kids, Nordstrom, or Gucci. We who can do this are probably not feeling too much hurt from the war. No rationing of resources or hunger. No wondering if "we" should enlist to help support the family or as a step toward citizenship.

Fashion at the BIG Kmart today included desert camo for teenage girls, children and even newborn infants. This cute little set is sized "boys 0-3 months."

The Whitehouse has warned on more than one occasion that "this war" (sometimes the one on terrorism, sometimes the one in Iraq) will last decades. So getting this meme out into the psyches of the little ones makes sense. Desensitize early and often. War is hell, but camo in pink is very cool this spring, especially on one-year-old girls. See the darling capris below sized "girls 12 months."

These sweet outfits will become baby shower gifts and birthday presents, the stuff of pleasant memories for mothers and fathers and children.

We are at war.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Prisons, People, Problems

1911 postcard from the Michigan State Prison in Jackson -- Message handwritten front and back: "This is where I'm taking my meals--but don't you tell I told you. Here today--but gone tomorrow--so cheer up. Took the wrong car and landed here. Tell Tim 'hello' for me. This is the card I got in Jackson."

Last week, 60 Minutes broadcast a piece about a mentally-ill Jackson inmate who lost his life to dehydration and hypothermia after 17 hours in restraints. (South Bend Tribune, Report on Mentally Ill in US Prisons)

This week, Governor Granholm proposed a balanced budget plan that includes the release of certain prisoners to reduce expenditures. (Granholm takes heat for plan to release prisoners, Lansing State Journal ) Her plan would release 3400 "low-risk" inmates. These include elderly, non-violent inmates, medically unfit inmates, and inmates likely to be deported. Legislators would also be asked to change sentencing guidelines for offenders committing nonviolent crimes to reduce the inmate population of embezzlers, thieves, and drug users from 40% to 20%. And the idea is receiving predictable responses from many sides. The Senate Majority Leader has dismissed the proposal as "fiscally irresponsible." A prisoner advocate is pleased with the proposal. Lobbyists for privatizing see another lucrative option. As usual, there is no easy answer here, but there is room for a bi-partisan collaboration on behalf of the future of Michigan. All that's needed is some vision and thinking beyond the usual partisan scripts. And perhaps, a prayer.

Monday, February 12, 2007

1.9 million Michigan residents receiving food aid

According to the Detroit News, today, 1.9 million Michigan residents are receiving food assistance from the government. I can't get my head around that without some context. According to the US Census Bureau, the estimated 2005 population for our state was 10,120,860. So, by my reckoning 18.7% of Michigan's residents are receiving food aid. Please someone tell me my math is wrong!