Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reinventing Michigan

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By Guest Writer Mr. Paul

I was recently walking through the town of Eastport, Maine. The claim to fame of Eastport is that it is the easternmost city in the United States. Eastport is a semi-touristy town that prospered under the sardine industry. When I was visiting with my wife there wasn’t much more than gift shops, antique shops, art shops, and a fantastic lobster restaurantish place. Up before the crack of dawn and in Eastport before the town woke up we had nothing to do but provide business to a local breakfast place which we were looking for anyways.

We wandered the streets as things started to get going. The shops started to open up and as they did we entered. The second shop that we went into was an art gallery operated by Jim Levendosky. Jim happened to be the first person we talked to that morning. Surprisingly he was from Pittsburgh. We made conversation about Pittsburgh as my wife’s parents had just moved there. Within our conversation I made the comment that Pittsburgh had reinvented itself. He took no time disagreeing with that statement. What he did say was very interesting. He mentioned that it was not a matter of reinvention, but that the old generation was dying out and replaced by new blood. It is this new blood that the city stands on now. Old traditional buildings remain but are filled with new tenants. Pittsburgh didn’t decide to change, it simply changed.

As a former Michigander, Jim’s statement struck a chord with me. There is plenty of talk about reinventing the state. We are going to be a mecca of higher education, green energy, entertainment, etc. In addition we are going to retain the title of automobile capital of the world. GM, Ford, and Chrysler will all thrive once this reinvention is complete. This is a bunch of hogwash. What is in our control is not the reinvention of Michigan, but the demise of Michigan. Michigan can be great, but it can’t be engineered to greatness.

Fixing Michigan requires eliminating industry specific tax incentives, laws, and regulations and return to uniform policies. We then have to sit back on our easy chairs and watch the state restructure. The old blood needs to get out of the way and let the new blood move in. Old tradition rich industries need to either become viable on their own or get out of the way. We need to move away from the mentality of control and simply let things happen. Cities and states aren’t invented. They form on their own based on the resources available. Boundaries can be drawn but that is all that we can do. Just as cities and states are not invented they cannot be reinvented. If we control the possibilities then the possibilities have an end. Without control the possibilities are endless as the flow of resources to and from the state would be unobstructed.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Michigan Corps is at it again

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By Mr Sig

NYT - Michigan Corps

The link above proves that they have a pretty good PR machine. It looks like the Jailty's called up one of their friends in the New York Times to put together a puff piece on the Michigan Corps. This time the article compares Michigan to a couple of third world countries such as India, Ethiopia and Armenia. Ok, maybe India is a developing country, but something just doesn't sit well. Michigan is a depressed economy, but we are not a third-world country. And Michiganders do have quite a bit of pride. Do you remember the feeling you had inside when the Detroit Pistons stomped all over the LA Lakers in the NBA finals in 2004? It was feeling that expensive superstars, the big city, and celebrity were just goofy distractions. The Pistons were about business that year, and they went in and kicked the Lakers out of town.

I think Jaitly is underestimating the pride that Michiganders have. I think that Michigan is a little too blue collar and hard nosed to get excited about an Ivy League Princeton guy experimenting with third world development strategies in our state. It reminds me of the movie Zoolander where Derek, the fruity male model returns home to visit his father who is a tough-guy coal miner.

However, this guy could be successful if he does manage to generate a few hundred million dollars to invest in Michigan businesses. A pile of money can certainly convince the public to put their roots and pride on hold... at least briefly.

I don't think the Jaitly's are bad people, but I think they don't really understand the Michigan culture. Am I off the mark here? Shoot me a comment or two and let me know what you think.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Internet Lives!

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By John Galt

As my colleague Mr Sig pointed out in an earlier post, the future of Michigan’s economy may very well be in online telecommuting. Unfortunately, there are still huge swaths of Michigan without high speed internet service. Well, I think I have a solution.

First, let me say that I am completely addicted to the internet. It is one of those indispensable luxuries which I think would be a deal-breaker if high speed internet was not available at a prospective place of residence. That is why I have such a personal investment in this post and I am so excited to share it with you.

Twice this past year I have heard sad tales of internet barrenness in Michigan. First, my wife’s family is from a small town just outside Ann Arbor. At only 20 minutes from the UM campus, it is certainly not what I would consider particularly rural. That’s why it is a bit puzzling to me that Comcast is unavailable there, and they cannot get DSL because “all the circuits are full”. So, when all other options failed, they had no choice but to continue to use the old standby of AOL dialup. To me, that is just unacceptable.

Another example is a family friend who lives in a rural part of Northern Michigan. In this case, I am not surprised that no wired utilities are able to provide internet service. So, being a tech nerd like myself, this man has taken to installing the only high speed internet option available to huge portions of the country: satellite. In his case, he is using Wild Blue, which he claims is better than Hughes Net, but still not very good. In both cases, the installation costs can be steep and the contract is long. Neither are very good options.

Now, there is a better way.

About a week ago, the wireless company Virgin Mobile (a subsidiary of Sprint) announced that they are offering an UNLIMITED 3G cellular data plan, WITHOUT a contract for $40 a month. This means that anyone who is in their coverage area can easily get DSL-type speeds for a very affordable price, and moreover the service can be turned on and off as needed without penalty (great for seasonal cabins).  No more worrying about overage fees or contracts like other carriers; it can be used just like a regular home internet connection.

Now, here is the best part, and this is something you are not likeVMly to hear anywhere else. While it is true that their coverage area is limited in some areas, someone with a bit of technical knowledge can add a medium range or long range antenna to one of their internet devices, which if done properly, can reach a tower nearly 100 miles away. Now, people even on the edge of the service area have  access to high speed internet in their home at a great price. [Note: Sorry U.P., there isn’t any Sprint/Virgin service up there, so you are still stuck with dialup or satellite.]

I couldn’t be happier about this. I can tell you that if I were to move to a more rural area where cable or DSL are not available, this would be the first thing I would install. Let me know what you think of this in the comments below. And, if this information helped you save money and make your life better, consider donating to help us keep this site going.