Thursday, April 2, 2009


Today's edition of The Detroit News includes another obligatory article about the departure of young, smart, talented individuals and families from Michigan to perceived greener pastures. We've been hearing this for years, and I fought the instinct to click on the link and read this revision of the same story because there is absolutely nothing that it can add to my life or my understanding/appreciation of the problems. Yup, jobs are sadly scarce and I don't want anyone to have to leave family, friends, or home, but in our shrinking portion of the economy, this is an inevitable (though highly undesired) outcome.

As the domestic automobile industry shrinks and Michigan claws to find additional jobs to bring in to the state, the only natural outcome is that the population will undergo a downsizing much like the employment forces of the companies contained within our borders. To me, while disappointing and sad, Michigan became bloated to a completely unsustainable point, and there is simply no way that in the absence of new work, the same amount of people will be able to live here. The key is not to focus on people leaving, but to identify the point at which Michigan and its residents can hit the not-seen-in-a-long-time break even point and to work toward that size. Once you hit break even, you can look more effectively and successfully at how to grow. It is just another component of the painful changes required before success can again return. This is a sucky but necessary component of the road to possible recovery.

There is no point in trying to regain past glory or to realistically bring back the same quantity of high-paid manufacturing jobs, because that is not a path forward. People are going to leave and I am going to quietly mourn for every single one, but unfortunately, this may be the best option for these people and for the state. It could be me, it could be you. Perhaps with some planning and substantial luck, Michigan will have the opportunity to lure back its lost children because those children left. I don't want it to be this way and am open to different options, but I also realize that this may need to be the way.


Lynn Digirolamo said...

I saw that article Ken. Sadly, I am one of those people that left. I live with "Michigan Abandonment Guilt Syndrome" daily lately (sigh).

Daniel J. said...

In the not-so-distant future, I foresee Michigan being the most sought after place to live. Fresh Water surrounds us. The great lakes are the moat that keeps our castle secure. The monetary system will surely fail, and people will begin to realize that living somewhere is based more on resources and proximity to those resources than on a frivolous pursuit of a false power known as money. A resource-based economy is what is necessary. Unfortunately, the monetary economy will have to fail for this to even be a remote possibility. I could go on for days, but for the sake of getting published I'll culminate here. Yea, I'm still reading, Ken.