It’s a depressing time to be a Michigander.
It’s an even more depressing time to be a Detroiter.
Our illustrious former mayor went down in a blaze of sex scandal glory and is now sitting in a jail cell while the former city council president serves as interim mayor until a special election is held in which no less than 14 candidates are planning to run.
If it was just that, it’d be cool. We’d be a laughing stock, but we’re used to that ’round these parts.
But, as you probably know, our main industry is going down in a blaze of pray-for-a-bailout glory. So that adds a much more depressing note to the life and times of an ordinary Detroiter.
A couple weeks ago, the Big Three auto execs headed to D.C. to advocate (read: beg) for government help. To the tune of $25 billion to help them avoid crumbling under their financial obligations until the economy rights itself and they can get sales back on track. Before all that happened, GM and Chrysler were in talks to merge, which would cost a direct loss of around 40,000 jobs. That figure jumps into the hundreds of thousands when you start looking at the collateral damage of 2 automakers instead of 3.
The country’s been focused on a swiftly declining economy for the past few months. But in Michigan? It’s been years of this. Unemployment in Michigan has been at an all-time high for as many recent years as I can remember. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I sat in true “rush hour” traffic during my commute, which is a testament to the number of people who are no longer working/jamming up our expressways.
The word “layoff” is a normal part of our vocabulary. It has enveloped us in a cloak of fear, but it’s a cloak we’ve sadly gotten used to and the stress and the fear have just become a normal part of our daily lives. Those that couldn’t keep up have just up and left their homes and families, hoping for a better future in another state. This of course hasn’t helped our other big problem: foreclosure rates. It’s a buyer’s market in Metro Detroit these days, but no one wants to buy because we’re all afraid we might lose our jobs and have to turn around and move as well. Who wants to take the chance on buying a house under conditions like this?
So now, Detroit’s only industry, the one that fuels all the other business in this town, has finally learned the word of the day: bailout. They’re on the brink and if they don’t get help, the guy on the line will lose his job. Then the supplier that supplies the parts to the auto company will lose her job. Then the accountant (a.k.a. DD) that audits the supplier that supplys parts to the auto company will lose his job. Then people will stop giving money to important causes like my nonprofit, and I’ll lose my job.
There’s a part of me that wants to scream at these companies and their requests for bailouts. Don’t they get that if the government bails them out, it can’t do equally important things, like improve healthcare or education? But in the same breath, I know the companies can’t do it on their own anymore, and that by helping them, the government is really helping me and my family stay above water.
And to top it all off, the City of Detroit is also jumping on the bandwagon, asking the state and federal government for a $10 billion bailout to help it get out of the hole that it’s dug over the past few years, most recently under the texting sex-master former mayor. I have no effing clue what that $10 billion would go toward, but it’s just one more cry for help.
It all kind of makes me want to crawl under my covers and start wearing earmuffs to muffle out all the cries. Denial is an excellent coping mechanism, after all.