Sunday, April 22, 2007

Our Michigan versus My Michigan

If Michigan were a person, she'd be unable to get a mortgage or car loan. She's the only state with a negative credit outlook, according to Jim Weimken of Standard and Poor's. Next month, she may be shutting down government offices, due to lack of funds. Her children are shoeless and hungry. If only she could increase her income. Relocating to find more lucrative work is out of the question.

If she were a person, she could get a second job or ask for a raise. She isn't one person, though. She is ten million; we are all Michigan. The Republicans, the Democrats, the unions, the car companies, the prisoners, the police, the teachers and students, the Walmart greeters, the intellectuals and the wrestling fans, the artists, the tool and die makers, the banks and the homeowners facing foreclosure, the political activists and the couch potatoes--we are all in this thing, everyone of us complicit. There is no "them" only "us."

Even so, there are people in Michigan who despise government. Schools should be privatized, artists should find market support, poor people should quit complaining and get jobs. And the homeless? Well, faith-based initiatives can help them find redemption in a bowl of soup with a side of scripture. According to this model, government enables those too lazy to help themselves. Michigan is filled with hapless slobs unwilling to do an honest day's work and looking for a hand out. (Well, except for the people who hold this opinion!)

Such we/they thinking is the fallacy that created our present mess. Our state police, our schools, our social services, our natural resources, our infrastructure, our arts, our economic development--all hang in the balance. For the sake of Our Michigan, reach out to your legislators and urge them to get mature, look across the aisle and see "us" in each other.