Saturday, August 14, 2010

The 20 Year Dilemma

Michigan Expats - Commentary - See All Commentary

By John Galt

As this author has stated previously, I am currently exploring all the available options to
move back home to Michigan. There are some barriers but also opportunities. Today, I
will not discuss those. Rather, I want to look at the bigger picture. And that isn’t always
a rosy one.

The dilemma is simple yet agonizing, with no clear answer. First, let me say that I feel
lucky to have been born and raised in Michigan, with the access to the outdoors, the
independent spirit, the freedom to explore, and the affordability to make it all accessible.
Yet, in other ways, Michigan is a disadvantage for one who calls it home. Clearly, the
economic situation is a disadvantage, thus my expatriation in order to find a decent job. I
think the economic situation has also created a sort of political and social malaise; a sort
of beaten puppy-dog look typical of a people who aren’t convinced things will get better.
For all its advantages and disadvantages, Michigan is nonetheless my home, and I think
everyone has a strong desire to want to be near one’s family, no matter where they are.

Therein lies my dilemma. The fact is, I too am one of those who do not think Michigan
will be getting better any time soon, and I am okay with that. I left Michigan, I saw a
few corners of the rest of the world, and now I have decided I want to come back. But,
what about my eventual children, and the generations beyond that? In 20 years, I may
have children looking to enter the job market. By returning, am I not forcing them to
expatriate like I had to in order to find success? Aren’t I, in some small way, setting
them up to fail? The truth is, I just don’t know.

When I consider this conundrum, I find myself more and more often identifying with the
immigrants who came to this country in search of a better life. Irish or Pakistani; Ellis
Island or San Francisco Airport, people have emigrated here for hundreds of years in
search of a better life. Until recently, I suppose I never really stopped to appreciate the
obvious: that many of those immigrants left their families and their livelihoods behind
when they came in search of a better life. What a huge and difficult decision it must be
to uproot your family in search of a better life. In some small way, I feel a bit like I am
pondering the same decision only in reverse. Do I want to return to Michigan, a place
with deep roots but few economic opportunities for myself and my family? Or, do I
strike out, in search of a better life, and set new roots in a new city (or country for that
matter)? I have already expatriated from Michigan once in search of opportunity. Is it
really fair to revert back to my comfort zone at the expense of my future and economic
opportunity for my posterity? Again, I just don’t know.

Tell me what you think in the comments below. Am I being too pessimistic about
the future of Michigan? Is it fair to take the easy road at the expense of one’s future
offspring? I’d love to hear your advice.


  1. In terms of the future of Michigan, the Detroit Free Press had an article today entitled "With jobs coming to Michigan, outlook is brighter for home sales" (

    Maybe things are looking up for Michigan?

  2. The process of rebuilding is slow, but this is a bright spot it seems.

    I'd like to see private, non-government related, non-subsidy related jobs return to Michigan. That's the real sign.