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My Dear Michigan

It’s been a while since my dear Michigan has been seen as a vibrant economy.  The failing auto industry, once seen as a American Icon, has been in steady decline for some time.  This loss of industry has fueled a downward spiral for Michigan’s metropolis of Detroit, who has seen a 60% reduction in population since its heyday in the postwar 1950’s economy.  Even though sparks of revitalization, such as the building of new stadiums downtown,  have given some hope for the Motorcity, for each spark there are 100’s of haunting reminders of what once was (as documented in numerous photojournals).

Detroit illustrates (and is partially the cause of) the problems that plaque the entire state of Michigan.  The mass exodus from Detroit isn’t just leaving the city, it’s leaving the state.  In 2010, Michigan was the only state that lost population.   There have  been numerous attempts to jump start the economy with forward thinking Green Initiatives from both state and federal levels.  Even native resident Jeff Daniels has lent a hand to drum up support for the state.  There is even some entrepreneurial will to keep fighting in Michigan.  But these attempts to move Michigan forward are currently being sold for scraps, as newly elected (and potential recall candidate) Gov. Rick Snyder is playing to the tea-partiers calls for radical spending cuts even when the state is desperate for investment.  His plan includes raising taxes on the poor and elderly in order to finance a corporate tax reduction, hoping that corporations, supported by citizen sacrifice, will be the savior of the state.  If the 80 years of economic experience since the Great Depression have given us great insight into dealing with economic downturns, the last 2 years of Tea-Party “anger” (what exactly are they angry about?) has taught us emotions outweigh rational thought.

But there is hope for the once great Detroit, and Michigan in general.  Other cities and states have faced economic despair from which they rose.  One of my favorite examples, and the one I find most fitting for Detroit, is the reemergence of Pittsburgh.  The once great Pittsburgh has endured its share of hardship following the collapse of the steel industry in the 1970’s.  Though it’s not an easy road, Pittsburgh has shown that cities can be rebuilt.  And it’s the industrial backbone that these two cities have in common, that gives hope for the rebound of Detroit and the rebound of Michigan.

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