Well What About Michigan?

I have received some interesting responses to my “10 Things” post. When I wrote it my personal feeling was that there would be a massive “piling on” because things seem to be so bad here, and that I would be taken to task because I went so easy on the area.

To my surprise quite the opposite occurred.

The responses were overwhelmingly positive. Not only that, but they were upbeat and optimistic about the future of the area, which I think is a tremendous (albeit an anecdotal) indicator of future. And this got me to thinking about this area a little differently, and definitely validated my belief that this area will mount a strong resurgence soon. (as it always does)

My personal perspective is obviously shaped by my experiences, and my experiences have included traveling extensively around this country, to the extent that I have visited 45 states by car over the years. Now I can’t say that I spent a great deal of time in many of the places because I was just driving through, so in turn I can’t say that I have truly experienced the way of life in each of the places that I have visited.

But all of this driving around did give me some basis for comparing them to Michigan; and I have to say that this area stacks up quite nicely. In fact, I would say that life here is even superior to that in the other places that I have lived and traveled to.

To illustrate this point, I’d like to quote part of a letter to the editor to the Detroit Free Press from this past Sunday:

 . . . reminded me of things Michiganders often take for granted. We’ve been beaten down with so much bad news and criticism that it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves why we love this state.

Have you tasted Florida water lately? We have an abundance of “sweet” water that is the envy of the world.

How about the Phoenix furnace in the summer? Our summers feature benign days, cool nights, plenty of sun, and usually ample rain.

Our spectacular wilderness can be enjoyed without the hordes of people that inundate places like Yosemite and Yellowstone.

Even though our infrastructure needs repair, much of it is already in place; we’re not starting from scratch.

One-season or two-season (warm and hot) states are boring; we have four distinct seasons, each with its own beauty and charm.

We touch four Great Lakes and thousands of others, with no sharks, alligators or poisonous snakes to beat back.

We have a wealth of institutions of higher learning: U-M, MSU, Michigan Tech, Hillsdale, and so many others.

We have four pro sports teams and many competitive college teams in a diversity of sports.

As for pests, I prefer our mosquitoes and flies to Florida’s black widows, Arizona’s scorpions, and the Carolinas’ cottonmouths.

And while we encounter the occasional tornado and snowstorm, hurricanes, earthquakes, catastrophic floods and drought-driven wildfires are absent.

I think the real key to all of this is that we get most everything in moderation here. Weather, traffic, food and gas prices, housing prices, cost of living, and most importantly, economic growth. Since we operate in a relatively narrow range in all of these areas, though, a change or impact that might be minor in another area, like say California, ends up having a major impact here

So, like the last time, and the time before, and the time before, we’ll deal with it and move forward. Yes you hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the empty heads in the media about the coming of the apocalypse. But is it really any different this time? I don’t think so. In fact, I don’t think that this is even the worst that this area has been hit, and quite frankly I remember the days when this state would have killed for an unemployment rate as low as the 7.5% that we have now.

What it boils down to is that the one thing that this downturn has in common with the last one and the one before is that it’s temporary. Sure people will leave the state. Yes, jobs will be lost, yes foreclosures will rise, and yes, the city of Detroit will continue to function as the same mismanaged kindergarten.

But this area will bounce back. It always does. And that’s why I like it here.

You see, I lived in Lake Tahoe for two years, Los Angeles for another two during grad school at USC, and the San Francisco Bay Area for almost eight more. And there’s no amount of money nor any opportunity that could get me to go back. None.

And that is no indictment on California. Far from it actually. Lake Tahoe is one of the most singularly beautiful places that I have seen in this country or out; Los Angeles, aside from the traffic and smog, is a vibrant and alive place, and the Bay Area, as I mentioned before, has Silicon Valley. California is called the land of opportunity for good reason.

But there’s something that most people don’t realize, including a lot that live here. They don’t realize that this is another land of opportunity. It’s all around us and the funny thing is, you don’t have to look too far to find it. And do you know something else? There are less people looking for it here than there are in California.

That’s why I wouldn’t trade it.

And what about the sunsets on Mackinac Island, sledding in your back yard on a snow day, camping by a river with the cub scouts, knowing 80% of the people in your neighborhood, your kids living a block away from their best friends, and donuts and cider at the Franklin Cider Mill every fall?

Just icing on the cake.

Life here is truly extraordinary.