What are you willing to pay for?

April 4, 2018

Every now than then I can’t help but make a post here about the current state of affairs in my Village, state and the nation.This is one such post. I’ve gotten it out of my system pot hoilesans will return to my normal focus on faith-based inspirational messages with my next post. One cannot ignore the crumbling infrastructure all around and not see the root causes of that deterioration.

“In this world, you get what you pay for.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

That quote has been used in commercials and elsewhere, but seldom in politics, where some apparently believe that you can still get, even if you ae unwilling to pay for it.

The recent rise into power of the conservative political party has resulted in numerous tax cuts that have left state and local governments destitute and unable to pay for basic infrastructure services or education – two of their primary roles. Many local governments are barely able to continue to provide police and fire protections, with some even having to abandon those services, too.

Voters seem happy to see tax cuts and then can’t figure out why their roads and bridges are crumbling or the teachers in their schools are striking. Yet, when election time rolls around, these same politicians will still be blaming their political opponents of being “tax and spend” liberals. Well, duh; how do you think things get fixed if you don’t raise fund through taxation and then spend it to make the needed repairs or to reward the educators and public safety officials in our communities?

There is certainly a valid argument that too much of the money raised through taxation goes to waste through corruption or out of control administrative expenses. Those are issues that need to be tackled in order to get the most out of our tax dollars; however, the conservative’s approach of starving those problems out of the system by reducing the amount available doesn’t seem to be working either.

Certainly, government work rules that have evolved over time that support a large management and supervision overhead need to be reviewed and reworked. Anyone who has ever watched a city street or sewer crew at work can see that there appear to be more people standing around supervising that there are actually doing the work. There is room for great improvement and savings there. Currently, those same workers are sitting back in the Department of Public Services garage because there’s no money to pay for the materials for them to use to do the repair jobs.

Another phenomenon is the “kick the can on down the road” approach to tackling the tough decisions and jobs that need to be resolved. Politicians are always looking ahead to the next election and are more concerned about staying ion power than doing the right things now. They fear being called a tax and spend liberal more than they are concerned about being considered to be a do-nothing politician. In Michigan term limits were supposed to do away with the perceived evils of career politicians; but, instead just resulted in a legislature where no one has any experience and still the people in the office for their shorter terms are more concerned with the next election than solving the current problems. That has resulted in partisan gridlock, since none of the legislators knows how to work towards the compromises that are required to govern.

More recently, a lopsided conservative majority at the state government level has resulted in ill-advised tax cuts that have left the State unable to carry out many of its primary functions, especially where infrastructure repairs and replacements are concerned. A recent local newscast covered the cost of the pothole filled roads in Michigan and concluded that the costs far exceeded the money returned to taxpayers by the latest round of tax cuts. Decrepit bridges falling down and killing or injuring people will be the next thing that we start to see. People will complain, “Why aren’t they doing something about this?” The answer that will never come out of the politicians’ mouths is that there is no money for those repairs or replacement because we cut the taxes. They’ll find something or someone else to blame.

So, the question that made up the title for this post is, “What are you willing to pay for?” Are you more willing to drive on pothole filled road or cross dangerous bridges than to pay for their repairs? Are you OK with kids who fail the most basic educational assessment tests because they don’t have books or maybe heat or motivated and well -paid teachers at their schools? Maybe you are also OK with headlines that point out that – “Last on List: Michigan Ranks Worst Among State Governments for Integrity”. These are all things that can be turned around and fixed and the solutions start at the ballet box. We all need to demand more from the people who represent us and make the laws of our country, our states and our local governments. Being excellent at playing kick the can on down the road should not be a point of pride for those people, but a point of shame for which we hold them accountable.

There is a chance coming up later this year for you to make a difference. So, every time you hit a pothole this year, think about the politicians who made that possible and remember that when it’s time to vote. It’s time to remember that you get what you pay for. The lobbyists certainly understand that, since they paid for the politicians who are in office now. This time it’s your turn. Get out and vote for someone willing to do the right things, not just the politically expedient things. What are you willing to vote for?

Don’t make everyone unhappy…

November 8, 2016

“Unfortunately sometimes one can’t do what one thinks is right without making someone else unhappy.”  (W.Somerset Maugham) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Maugham might have gone on to say that not doing what you know is right may end up making everyone unhappy. Have you ever known someone who tried to make everyone happy all the time and ended up just making everyone unhappy? Those are people who straddle the fence and refuse to take a side or make a decision for fear of making someone unhappy.

What this type of person doesn’t realize most of the time worriesis that their waffling actually satisfies no one and can make things worse. They have a tendency to say to both sides in any disagreement whatever it is that they think they want to hear. Both sides temporarily think they have the support of that person for their point of view, until there is a showdown and they realize that the waffler doesn’t really support either side. Then everyone is unhappy.

People who waffle all of the time can seldom make firm decisions on just about anything. turtleThey always have doubts and are torn by FUD – fear, uncertainty and doubt. Their real problem for most of these people is a lack of self-confidence. Since they don’t feel good about themselves, they can’t get comfortable with any of the decisions that they have to make. It is just easier for them to go along with whatever way the wind in blowing at the time and to agree with the position of whomever is standing in front of them.

Many of these people seem to be analytical types – people who tell themselves that they visualizationare looking at both sides of the argument and analyzing the arguments before making a decision. The problem is that they never get to the decision point. They spend all of their time analyzing and looking at both sides. There is certainly nothing wrong with being open minded enough to see both sides of an issue. After all the opposite is to become bull-headed andarrogant rigidly set in your beliefs, no matter how wrong they have proven to be.

The key for an analytical person is to set a deadline for them self to bring closure to the analysis and make a decision based upon the facts that they have in hand at the time. That’s hard for an analytical person, but necessary to avoid ticking off everyone. Being an analytical person myself, I find that stopping to make a little Franklin chart of the “facts” at hand helps. Sometimes that also forces the re-evaluation of whether a known “fact” is actually a fact at all or just a rumor or hearsay. Usually going through that little exercise makes the choice clear.

voteToday is Election Day in America and we all have to stop waffling and make a decision in the voting booth. About half of the country will not be happy at the end of the day. I can’t do anything about that. I have my little Franklin Chart done and have made my decision. Hopefully, tomorrow we can all at least be happy that this “Silly Season” is over. I can’t wait for ads about laxatives and erectile dysfunction to once again take over the diner time TV ads. I think we can agree on that.

Get out and vote!

Get ready to vote…

January 17, 2015

The polls open at 8 AM Monday morning, Jan 19, for voting on the grants that the Huron Valley History Initiative is vying for against four other communities. Voting continues until 5 PM on Jan 25th. As they like to say in Chicago politics “vote early and vote often”, only in this case it is perfectly OK to vote and many times as you wish.

There will be multiple ways to vote. One way is by clicking on the graphic below, which will take you to the Clarke History Library web site and the voting station that they have set up.

vote graphic

The second way to vote on-line is to post a Tweet or to Re-Tween a post that has the hashtag #DigMilford in it. That’s our unique hashtag for this competition. I’ll be posting a tweet Monday morning with a link to another blog post about this contest and with the hashtag embedded; so, you could just Re-Tweet that post.

postcardThe third way to vote is to send a postcard in to the Clarke Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI  48859. Postcards don’t necessarily have to come from within Michigan, but they do need to have a Michigan theme or picture on them and they should also have the hashtag #DigMilford written on them somewhere.  If you can’t find a Michigan-themed postcard, get a blank one and draw a left handed mitten on it and label it “Michigan”. That should work. Postcards count as 100 votes, so we’d love to get lots of them sent to Clarke Library.

As I’ve mentioned here before, the Huron Valley History Initiative is made up of about 8-9 museums, libraries and historical societies and groups. The goal is this group is to digitize and make available on–line the various collections of historic memorabilia that the historical societies and museums have collected. The project that will kick this off is the conversion of the microfilm libraries that the Milford Historical Museum and the Milford Library have of back issues of the Milford Times weekly newspaper. Those back issues go back to the beginning of the paper in 1871. The Clarke Library grant that we are vying for will facilitate that conversion from microfilm into a digital format and allow the indexing of the issues to create a searchable database.

Look for my kick-off post on Monday, but get ready to vote next week. Dig through your old boxes of pictures and stuff to see if you have an old postcard off something from Michigan that you could send; otherwise stand by to Tweet. Have a great weekend.