Monday, August 4, 2008

A moment in TIME

I will probably take a closer look at TIME magazine's "Special Report" on "The Economy" later in the week (if I can stop laughing about the idea that Henry Paulson is the only thing standing between us and destruction - maybe he'll even have to work a few weekends). My laughter mixes with disgust that TIME gives their idol Bill Gates, the ultimate SHAGH, six pages (well, one is a huge picture of Father Bill, suitable for framing) to spout off about a new method of capitalism.

Today I just want to mention something that is awe-inspiringly insulting, and it's right on the cover. One of the stories is tagged, "Michigan's blues and why they could decide the election." The story inside is titled simply, "Michigan Blues." (It's conceivable that this story is about umpires in Michigan; alas, it's not.)

The story itself does mention the very real economic challenges that Michigan is facing, challenges that have no obvious solutions. But the title is indicative, I think. The impression is that Michigan is suffering from a case of the blues, that it is a state that feels down, depressed.

How is this different from Phil Gramm's "mental recession," "nation of whiners" diatribe? As long as the media persists in giving the impression that economic troubles are largely a function of attitude, the door is left open for the nimrods who insist that there are no problems, that we just need to continue enriching the oil companies and flocking to the docks to wave goodbye to our jobs and educating our kids for careers that no one will pay anything for.

TIME, it's not "blues" when you lose your house, or your career, or your savings. It's not "blues" when you have done everything right, earned the proper degrees, worked hard, only to lose everything in a massive experiment which consists of seeing if rich people can remain rich in an increasingly poor country. It's not "blues" at all, it's pain, and it's doubt, and it's uncertainty, and it's fear. It may seem like an abstract numbers game to you, media nabobs, but it's real Americans enduring real agony, and we don't appreciate it being passed off as "one of our little spells."


Citizen Carrie said...

Oddly enough, I thought the Time magazine article was one of the better stories that have been published about the state of Michigan, though that's faint praise.

Perhaps a bit off-topic, oddly enough, I'm not seeing as many For Sale signs as I did last year. (I'm an Oakland County resident.) To be honest, there were a lot more For Sale in the Roaring 90's, because SE Michigan has a substantial corporate transient population, and because people were selling their starter homes and moving into their brand new monster homes.

Starting about three years, people started having problems selling their homes around here. I honestly think people are now holding onto their homes until the real estate market improves. (And I do know a lot of families that are split apart where one spouse works out of state while the other stays home.) Although foreclosures are hitting all types of neighborhoods, the vast majority of foreclosures seem to be occurring in poorer neighborhoods where anyone who could rub a couple of dollar bills together were getting mortgage loans.

I am STILL waiting for the definitive research study on the exact chain of events homeowners are going through that cause them to lose their homes. All I see is sweeping generalizations where "speculation in Florida" and "job loss in Michigan" is being blamed.

Androcass said...

Actually, I agree, which I may not have made entirely clear; the article itself is fine (though not exactly startlingly new), it's just the tag line which I found inappropriate.

Something that I've seen around here (west suburban Chicago) is that there seem to be more houses to rent. I would guess that's a consequence of people having to leave (this suburb is pretty transient too, more so since the demise of companies like Bell Labs), but wanting to hold on to their homes when they come back in price. That's a big guess, however.

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