Thursday, May 18, 2006

Welcome to New Appalachia

During our national golden age, between WWII and around 1970, there were still pockets of hard poverty in various places, including Indian reservations, southern blacks dealing with Jim Crow, and Appalachia. Poverty remained strong in these areas despite a national hyper-prosperity.

Today it seems that Michigan has gained that distinction.

While we are not in a national golden age by any means, the country as a whole has a pretty good economy. Michigan sadly does not. According to an article in the Detroit News today, Michigan has an unemployment rate that 2.5% more than America as a whole. Simply put, a working class person in Michigan is half again as likely to be unemployed as a typical US worker. Even scarier is that Michigan could lose 10% of its remaining manufacturing jobs by the end 07.

I would like to see a County-by-county breakdown of Michigan and see how truly bad it is in Auto-country, as opposed to the western counties (furniture country), the farming areas, and the northern counties (mining, tourism, agriculture and lumber). When I get the time I could probably do that myself. Some time ago Detroit had a staggering 15% unemployment rate but I don't know what it is today. Flint and Saginaw are also being hit very hard. (Lansing has a bit more diversity in its economy but is still feeling quite an impact.) It does not hurt only auto-workers, but service and retail jobs that serve them. A Walmart in an economic ghost town is not going to need a lot of workers.

As has been said before, Michigan, especially the Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw area, depends too much on one industry and both GM and Ford made very bad decisions a number of years ago and it is devastating this state. As I have also said before, I consider it more of a cultural problem (the belief that one is automatically entitled to a good paying job) than a political one (though there is a political element.)

What can Michigan do? First off the people need to change their attitudes about work and their work ethic. People who worked for "Generous Motors" have told stories of laziness and worker fraud that just astounds me. We need to make Michigan more business friendly in terms of regulation and taxes. We need to concentrate more on education. There is a lot we can do. We have a lot going for us including natural resources like few other states have but we are not using them to full advantage. (We have abundant water, petroleum and natural gas, minerals and metals, wood, and agriculture like you wouldn't believe.)

Now there are a few bright spots, but they are not nearly big enough to offset the trends here in Michigan.

We are still in for more rough times. Welcome to New Appalachia, the old one is now much better off.


Blogger ABFreedom said...

It sounds like you have a lot of potential. Hopefully the initiative and will is there to turn it around. The time to start pursuing new avenues is now, and I now with the spirit and drive in America, you'll succeed.

12:44 AM  
Blogger Lone Pony said...

Shoprat, you should run for office. No kidding.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Our state is not as bad off as everybody says. If you go to the states where the economy is "thriving", working class wages and benefits are sub par when compared with our state. The conservative approach is alawys to take their cut out of the little guy's hide. We will get through these problems, and we don't have to lower our expectations to do it.
As far as union guys goofing off, Sloth is one of the 7 deadly sins, and so is Greed.

10:18 AM  
Blogger shoprat said...

ABF We do have potential but will it be fulfilled?

LP I don't think too many would vote for me. I do not look, act or dress the part of politician and have no desire to.

tim There is no moral difference between corporate and union greed. In my opinion there is an absolute moral equivalance between the two. I generally say "A pox on both thine houses."

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very sad what has happened. That is why we have GM XEmployee. A free job posting board where hopefully unemployed autoworkers from any company can find the job they need. There also articles to help write a resume’ and go on interviews.

10:09 PM  

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