If anyone outside of Michigan wonders what the current set of proposals to lessen the national debt by “reducing the size of government” mean to their town, Detroit is a preview, and the coming attractions are not pretty. Now the State wants to take over Detroit, voiding our own right to determine our future.
Detroit has borne the brunt of deficit reduction plans from both the State and National levels. In an era of unprecedented national growth during the Clinton Administration, Michigan’s State government (dominated by conservative Republicans) created a budget deficit, primarily by lowering Corporate and property taxes. At the same time, the State reduced the “size of government” by reducing or eliminating State-run public health services, such as mental health institutions. Once the Clinton budget surplus (achieved with a combination of reducing expenditures and raising taxes) were wasted by Bush and conservative republicans in the US Congress, local governments were hit with a second round of revenue reductions.
The result of deliberate efforts to reduce the size of government by starving it of government revenue is that, in Michigan, on the local level, government is much smaller – and the quality of life is much worse. Schools are not only much less effective in teaching students, the buildings are literally falling apart. Roads, water and sewage lines and other forms of infrastructure are, in places, worse than third world countries. Whole Fire and Police Departments have been defunded and disappeared, although crime has not lessened significantly. The lack of State mental Health structures has caused the streets and local jails to become flooded with the homeless, costing local governments far more than government-funded hospitals. Oh, and all those tax breaks for Corporations and the so-called “job creators” has resulted in an unemployment rate among the highest in the Country.
Conservatives complain that Michigan is the victim of a terrible National economy because the Federal Government spends too much. The reality is that when the National economy was booming in the 80s, Michigan created its own deficit by giving away tax breaks and eliminating investments in infrastructure, R&D, etc.
I distrust government when it comes to regulating my personal liberties, but government has a real and important function when it comes to matters of public safety, infrastructure and education. I guess there is my difference with the Tea Party Conservatives: they want to take the government out of building the country and into regulating the bedroom; I think government should stay out of my lifestyle and repair a few bridges and roads (at least). Rachel Maddow has a commercial that makes the point: there was no compelling profit motive for a private company to build the Hoover Dam and, none would build one today. However, the Hoover Dam has resulted in an economic boom and health service that has benefits all of us greatly. That is the proper role of government.
“The result of deliberate efforts to reduce the size of government by starving it of government revenue is that, in Michigan, on the local level, government is much smaller – and the quality of life is much worse. Schools are not only much less effective in teaching students, the buildings are literally falling apart.”
Forgive me, but… sin, cosine, TANGENT!:
The more I hear, the more I want to… do what? Put my fist through a wall? Or, as actor Alan Arkin said in the 1960s when asked what he was doing to stop the Vietman War, sit home and curse a lot?
The other day someone was telling me that here in NYC if a school gets an “F” for three years in a row, then the school is shut down and the kids are sent to other schools– which are already overcrowded here! The other problem is that it is routine to blame the schools and the teachers for kids doing so badly. Yes, it’s true, sometimes there are god-awful teachers, but rarely is there an entire school full of them.
Scientific research has shown that the best predictor of how well kids do in school is whether or not they were read to at home as little children alongside the attitude their parents have towards education. This is strongly correlated with economic class. Often, the kids that do so badly and come from low-income families who don’t emphasize education are minorities. And this is where the discussion become contentious. People immediately interpret this observation (not just made by me but by others) as, “Minorities are stupid and have no values.” No, that’s not it at all. Rather, it’s more like this: “Minorities, blacks in particular, have been crapped on for centuries and only in the past 50 years or so are we Americans coming to our senses. As a result, only very recently are minorities getting the same opportunities as whites.” Well, change comes slowly. We’re still recovering from slavery and from the more recent separate but equal bullshit.
So what it comes down to is political correctness: How dare we tell a single black woman on welfare working two crappy jobs that her kid is doing badly in school because she didn’t read to him? Well, okay, that’s fair. We can’t point blank blame the mother for a situation our ancestors helped create. But blaming the teachers (for the ultra politically correct people, to spare a few feelings; for the Republicans, to just have another excuse to cut more funds and redirect them to the military and other crap) and shutting down schools ain’t the answer either! These kids who already have a slim chance are going to have a next to zero chance by being crammed into classrooms where they’ll have to compete for attention.
The story of Ben Carson, a black Detroit native comes to mind. He was black, poor, and disadvantaged. He was doing terribly in school. His mother, who had a third grade education, finally put her foot down and forced him and his brother to start reading two books per week from the library. His grades in everything shot up and he was number 3 (I think) in his high school graduating class. The brother became an engineer, and Ben became a brilliant neurosurgeon (unfortunately also a young-earth creationist, which I really don’t get, but …) who separated conjoined twins joined at the head, and was the first doctor to perform such an operation. His success happened not because of his teachers, but because of his MOTHER.
What is the answer then? Maybe to direct some funds toward outreach programs to help these parents help their kids? I don’t know. I’m sure the military doesn’t need as much funding as it has. But what I do know is shutting schools and libraries down and advocating more and more tests while cutting out recess and gym (both which are also correlated with doing well in school because of increased oxygen flow to the brain and increased dopamine production) are NOT the answer!!
“Conservatives complain that Michigan is the victim of a terrible National economy because the Federal Government spends too much. The reality is that when the National economy was booming in the 80s, Michigan created its own deficit by giving away tax breaks and eliminating investments in infrastructure, R&D, etc.”
Why Republicans don’t see that is beyond me. It reeks more of social Darwinism to me, survival of the fittest, elevated social status, an extra scoop of whipped cream on that 1500-calorie slice of fudge cake.
“I guess there is my difference with the Tea Party Conservatives: they want to take the government out of building the country and into regulating the bedroom…”
Stupidity at its finest. As Richard Dawkins said about the Monica Lewinsky bullshit, “Where a man puts his penis is none of Congress’s damned business.” Europe laughed at us. Sadly, it is indirectly because Americans cared so much about that that Bush got elected and the economy went to hell. Our economy is in ruins, largely because we couldn’t handle the fact that Monica Lewinsky gave Clinton a blow job. Yeah, I think it was sleazy, but he didn’t rape anybody, and it’s up to he and his wife to work things out. It’s between them and is none of our business.
“Rachel Maddow has a commercial that makes the point: there was no compelling profit motive for a private company to build the Hoover Dam and, none would build one today. However, the Hoover Dam has resulted in an economic boom and health service that has benefits all of us greatly. That is the proper role of government.”
There you go. You just nailed it. Caring about THE END RESULT. The LONG TERM. Not the IMMEDIATE. Republicans just care about the IMMEDIATE without regard to long term…
Sorry this was so long…
What do you mean you distrust the government, what about civil liberties. What happens if your rights are violated, but then again what acceptable rights to freedom can any government infringe your right to a degree due to the fact your civil rights has not been defined by the highest court of the land for example the supreme court. The United States has track record along with many other countries prior to the American Civil War, until someone defied it in court of law, or passed an act in the house of lords or congress, not to discriminate, or prohibited by law. The biggest act passed was the abolishment of slavery in the late nineteenth century, the American civil war followed as result. Hundred years later, the civil rights movement completed something that should have passed in the late nineteenth century. The replubictards invaded without any physical evidence of weapons of mass destruction, and yet is Iraq any better than it was. How did Iraq play any part with the destruction of the World Trade Centre, never understood the Bush Legacy. Giving out large bailouts to banks, who then turned around and gave big bonuses on bailout money. Where is the accountability with congress, with a huge debt if fifteen trillion dollars. Most of American work is leaving everyday and no law maker can comprehend, it is passing of free trade agreements who put most of America is recession, destroy literary the town of Flint. If there were strong tariffs on goods coming from third world countries like Mexico, many American companies like General Motors would not have set up shop in Mexico, sending most jobs in favour of profit. Twenty years, General Motors could not comprehend why no one would but their auto mobiles because many could not afford them and can afford cheaper imports. The booming fifties for Michigan was a result, most of half the world was in ruins from World War Two, and trying to rebuild their damaged infrastructure. So the bottom line, fat greedy cats make a profit on many Americans misery, who donate money to elect many into office who passed laws which literary destroyed the American Dream, is where does this stop I ask you.