Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When is bad really bad?

It's almost zero degrees outside. That's natural but bad. The Lions were 0-16 this season. That's pretty bad. Market instability. Bad. Unemployment in Michigan was at 9.8% in November of 2008 ( That's bad. Someone inevitably chimes in that, "it could be worse." I suppose. The unemployment rate during the Great Depression was approximately 25%. So by comparison, the general feeling of most people, including many in Michigan, is that we're not even half-way to bad yet.

On a recent trip to Somerset mall, I couldn't help notice the large number of people shopping. Economists say that's good. Retailers have seen better. The irony being that adjacent to the mall in Automation Alley, there is much unrest. Even with bailout money and the North American International Auto Show at Cobo, futures are very uncertain and that's bad. At the library the other day, I couldn't help but overhear high school seniors one-upping each other about Spring Break. After all, Spring Break is only about 65 days away. I'm sure they'll have plenty of fun.

But when is bad really bad? When do we recognize what's coming? Will bad be a lantern hung from a bell tower and two if its worse? Even though we're about 45% of the way to Depression era numbers, people are waiting for the feeling and it doesn't feel like it's that bad. Ask someone in the mortgage business if they have the feeling yet. They might. Maybe people just want a sign. Start looking in the front yards of your neighborhood. There are signs.

We have to accept what's happening but we don't have to like it or even take it. There is an economic crisis occurring in the state of Michigan. I'm encouraging each one of us to take back our state. Take it back one dollar at a time. Over the next year, I urge each and every citizen to start putting Michigan first. Stay in Michigan this year. Watch the sun set from the dunes overlooking Lake Michigan. Have some fudge. Catch some jazz down at Hart Plaza or visit the Detroit Institute of Arts. Have a weenie over a campfire somewhere in da' UP, eh. Pick your own strawberries or visit the orchards. Start spending your money wisely. Start living within your means and target your dollars to stay in Michigan by buying Michigan made products. The entire premise of the Made in Michigan movement is to provide you with the education and the resources to make that happen. We will make sure you have those items necessary to make change both for the state and for yourself.

It's not over. It's just time for a new beginning and a renewal of our thinking. We fell down but we're right back up. It's not if we change but rather when we change. Our work ethic, as a collective, simply will not allow that. We refuse to be a footnote in an Economics book. We will change. When we do, the nation will be inspired and follow Michigan's lead once again.

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