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Opinion

How’s this idea: In an effort to please an old-fashioned, shrinking industry, we outlaw efforts to sell a new product in an innovative way?

Instead, we’ll make anyone who wants this product drive to Chicago or Cleveland to buy it.

That ought to help Michigan become economically competitive again.


Textbooks
Danny Nicholson / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan students have fallen from the nation’s top tier to the bottom, in just one generation.

How’d this happen?

One reason: We have much less money, but we’re creating more schools.

Now that the teachers and students are back in school, I can’t resist turning my attention to school sports, one of my favorite subjects.

Auchter's Art
JOHN AUCHTER / AUCHTOON.COM

Listen, if you got yourself a big ol’ pot of roiling outrage going right now, I’m not the one to tell you to take it off the heat.

It’s election season and who am I to talk you out of the delicious indulgence of indignation? I’m an editorial cartoonist, for crying out loud!

There are bitter disputes over many aspects of education these days, but there is widespread agreement that how well children are reading by the time they finish the third grade is the best way we have of predicting their future success.

We also know this: In Michigan, things are bad and have been getting worse.

Thirteen years ago, this state ranked 28th in fourth grade reading proficiency. Now, we are 41st, and the Education Trust-Midwest estimates that soon we will be 48th.

You might think, some days, that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were actually running for president of Michigan.

Trump has been to the state repeatedly, and will be in nearby Toledo for the second time in the last few weeks today.

Chelsea Clinton, the candidate’s only child, will be campaigning and fundraising in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Flint Thursday and Friday. You might think they are paying a lot of attention to one medium-sized state that has only 16 of the 270 needed electoral votes.

Years ago, I heard a young reporter ask an old editorial writer what the difference was between Republicans and Democrats.

The old guy said, “Democrats love big government, preferably controlled by and run from Washington. Republicans are in favor of smaller, less intrusive government, and local control,” he said, and then paused.

“Except, that is, when they’re not.”

The young reporter asked when that was. “Whenever local government does something they don’t want it to do,” the old cynic said. That was long before the Tea Party or Rick Snyder.

If you’ve been living in Michigan for a while, chances are that you have noticed a drop in the quality of services you are getting from local government. I’m not just talking about distressed cities like Detroit or Pontiac, I’m talking about everywhere.

Well, guess what. You think you are getting less because you are. Some of that has to do with the mentality that all taxes are bad, even when not levying them costs us more than the tax would, as is the case with the roads.


Donald Trump gets it wrong about Ford's Mexico move

Sep 17, 2016

Facts detailing how the global auto industry operates shouldn’t muck up the campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Nor should they slow the candidates’ flailing efforts to score cheap political points in the industrial Midwest, right?

Yet, this week, Trump predicted the Dearborn automaker will “fire all of their employees in the United States” because it’s ending small car production in Michigan. And a CNN anchor actually asked Ford CEO Mark Fields whether the allegation is true.

Today, Detroit still has a lot of problems. But the city is out of bankruptcy. It is no longer crippled by huge debts and unfunded pension and benefit mandates.

The population loss has slowed to a trickle, the streetlights are on again, and Midtown is booming. But 11 years ago, Detroit was an entirely different place. White flight had been succeeded by black middle-class flight that was almost a stampede.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Who else thought when you first heard Basket of Deplorables: "That's the perfect name for a punk rock band"?

Well I definitely did, and it got me thinking.

Punk rock was in general a reaction to what rock and roll had become by the mid-1970s.

It had more or less bypassed its original audience: the young and the disaffected. Radio stations had become categorized, playlists were standardized, and established acts were given every advantage over the new and different.

Politically, the easy thing for the State Board of Education would have been to postpone a vote on guidelines for protecting transgender students until after November 8th.

State Board President John Austin, who has led the way on this issue, had every reason not to want this vote now.

He is up for reelection this year, he’s had some thoughts about running for higher office, and there’s a real threat that social and religious conservatives will try to put a target on his back because of his courageous stand against bullying.  

When news came yesterday morning that State Representative Peter Pettalia had died in a motorcycle crash, the first question everybody I knew asked was: Was he wearing a helmet?

Pettalia was a key player in the successful drive four years ago to repeal the law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. Turns out that he was wearing a helmet at the time of the tragedy, which evidently was not his fault. The brutal fact is that if you are going to collide with a heavy, vast-moving vehicle, a motorcycle, unlike a car, offers almost no protection.

There’s a fascinating intellectual property rights war going on that may have big implications for anyone who has a business and is thinking about using a symbol in the public domain. 

If you drive around much, you’ve likely seen bumper stickers and T-shirts bearing the familiar diamond-shaped M-22 logo that designated a scenic highway in the Leelanau Peninsula.

I was a little surprised when Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette appealed the decision striking down the ban on straight-ticket voting to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I knew, of course, that the attorney general wanted straight-ticket voting outlawed.

He is a fiercely partisan Republican, and the GOP thinks with some reason that allowing straight-ticket voting hurts their candidates.

Flint paying price for red tape, politicking

Sep 10, 2016
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The water crisis in Flint is giving the troubled city renewed attention and a jolt of economic opportunity. But two things are standing in the way: bureaucracy and politics.

Just ask Michael McDaniel. He’s the retired brigadier general in the Michigan National Guard who Mayor Karen Weaver hired last February to head the city’s Flint Action and Stability Team. He’s still waiting to be paid for the work he’s doing.

I am a little overweight. Not grossly fat, but I could certainly lose a few pounds. I could say this is because I was bullied as a child, because I heroically work too hard and don’t have time to eat properly, or because of my existential angst.

Actually, existential angst sounds like a good, all-purpose excuse for everything, especially given the current climate, political and otherwise. But the fact is that I am overweight because I eat too much and don’t exercise enough.

Auchter's Art: Crushing student debt

Sep 9, 2016
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

My first instinct was to draw the weighty Student Loan Debt object as an anvil.

You guys know what an anvil is, right?

An anvil is a block with a hard surface on which another object is struck. The block is as massive as it is practical, because the higher the inertia of the anvil, the more efficiently it causes the energy of the striking tool to be transferred to the work piece.

Yeah, that's not very helpful for me, either. How about this:

So is this now summer, or fall?

I know that by the calendar, we officially have two more weeks of summer. But the kids are back in school, the days are starting to get noticeably shorter, and Labor Day marks the traditional dividing line between the seasons.

Psychologically, anyway.

Many of today’s news items still seem like summer stories, with headlines like “naked man charged in homicide,” and “legal deal in the works for killers of pet guinea pig.”

Our national obsession with all Trump, all the time has blocked out most other political news, but there is one item that to me illustrates everything wrong with term limits.

This may strike you as silly, but a little, relatively insignificant thing happened today that put a lump in my throat.

It has to do with The Newspaper Association of America, the group that has represented major newspaper publishers since Grover Cleveland was in the White House.

I was never part of that group, which is mainly for newspaper owners, not ink-stained writers and editors, my tribe back in the day. We moaned and complained about publishers, often because we saw them as skinflints who wouldn’t pay us what we thought we were worth.

I am sorry I didn’t go to downtown Detroit yesterday morning for the annual Labor Day parade. Bill Clinton showed up in a casual shirt, and walked for a mile mingling with regular folks as well as politicians.

I didn’t need to see the former president, however; been there; done that.

Now, I wish I had gone to pay tribute to the men and women who struggled, suffered and sometimes died to give us the weekend, not to mention, paid vacations.


Trump’s dark take on Detroit, Michigan is wrong

Sep 3, 2016

Donald Trump says Michigan manufacturing is “a disaster.” He predicts Mexico soon will replace the United States as the heart of the North American auto industry.

He’s wrong.

You’d think a guy described as a quick study would do a little of it before opening his mouth. But no.

That’s why Governor Rick Snyder is correcting Trump’s dark take on Detroit and manufacturing. 

Update 1:55 p.m.:

Attorney General BIll Schuette has filed an emergency application for a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court to stop straight-ticket voting from being allowed in Michigan.

Original post:

Well, it now seems almost certain that on November 8th, Michigan voters will be able to fill in one little oval and cast what’s called a straight-ticket vote for a political party’s entire list of candidates for all offices.


John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Telling the wife of your boss at a dinner party that she is a racist is not a career enhancing move. Turns out, people don't like to be called racist — even if they are.

Let me explain.

Perhaps the most horrific story of the summer was the Detroit News’s revelations of unsanitary conditions at the now for-profit group of hospitals known as the Detroit Medical Center.

These included dirty instruments, old blood and bone fragments in tubes that were being used for a baby’s operation and other similar horrors.

That was more than bad enough. But a group of mental health advocates are now concerned that the Snyder Administration wants to partly or totally privatize mental health services.


The greatest scandal in American political history was, of course, Watergate. Reporters began investigating corruption in the Nixon Administration.

Congressional committees and the courts got involved, and the existence of a secret White House taping system was eventually discovered. Finally, the tapes provided absolute proof of Richard Nixon’s criminality.

There are those who think that Governor Rick Snyder has been made to bear too much of the blame for the mess in Flint.

There may be some truth in that.

The governor certainly didn’t set out to poison the water, though, as Harry Truman said the buck stops on the desk of the top man.

But there is an area where the governor may not have gotten enough criticism – and that is some of his policy choices in public education. The worst of these may be the Education Achievement Authority, or the EAA.

It was supposed to “fix” Detroit’s worst-performing schools.

Michigan Democrats and Republicans held their state conventions last weekend, mainly to nominate candidates for the education boards.

That includes the state board of education, plus two seats each for the three major universities – Wayne State, Michigan State, and the University of Michigan.

When I was three years old, a little girl in my neighborhood was snatched off the street, raped and murdered. Her body was found a week later in a garbage dump, and the crime never solved.

This traumatized my mother, who instilled in me a lifelong fear of child molesters. It took about half a century before I stopped being frightened whenever a car pulled up next to me.

AUCHTOONS.COM

CARTOONIST'S POV:

If you spend more than a few moments with my wife's family, there is a pretty good chance you're going to hear a Caddyshack reference. A quote from the 1980 film will work its way into the conversation — sometimes in context, always funny.

So coming off a week's vacation with them, it's not hard to find the inspiration for the punch line in panel three of the cartoon.

Donald Trump is coming to Michigan again early next month, this time specifically to court black voters in Detroit. My guess is that the Clinton campaign is thrilled by this.

In fact, they probably wish Trump would spend every day until November 8 in Detroit. If he did so, and managed to make some connections with black Detroiters, he might manage to lift his level of support in that community to maybe four percent.

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