Thursday, June 28, 2018

What is the winning Democratic philosophy to defeat the radical right?

The Democratic Party is not going to win the minds of Americans with a platform or philosophy that advocates for more government, pits corporations against people, or advocates greater redistribution of wealth.

While I agree that the billions in tax breaks given to corporations could be better spent on investing in the future economy and giving the tools to the next generation to succeed, if this philosophy drives the Democratic narrative exclusively, it will face an uphill battle against the Republican philosophy which connects better with the Founding Father's ideals around individual responsibility and the potential of every man and woman.

While I agree that investing that money in everyday Americans could result in the next genius that drives our economy and creates jobs, saves the environment, or cures an incurable disease, this will not win over a specific demographic Democrats need to convince.  This demographic includes those disgusted by the lies and character of our current President but recognizes the inherent differences between individual responsibility and expanding government.

So, here is where I come from.

I work for a corporation, mutually owned by our members.  I make a good salary.  Our company touts social responsibility.  We may not live it fully everyday, but we are certainly not without a conscience.

My parents worked hard as teachers to locate in a community the afforded me the best public education possible.  I am blessed.  My parents saved enough to pay for my college and graduate school.  I am very blessed.

I recognize the vast majority of those living next to me in Detroit have not been blessed with what I was provided by my parents.  I recognize there is a long history of institutional racism and discrimination that has acted to minimize the opportunities to Americans, my fellow citizens, who I consider my neighbors, yet I still believe in loving thy neighbor as thyself.

I realize there are many individuals that have not been treated fairly over time, particularly in a nation with great wealth.  We owe it to our fellow neighbors to ensure we respect one another, give opportunities to those born to less fortunate circumstances, and that the rich are not able to profit on the backs of the poor.  I believe that Corporations share an equal social responsibility to provide for the welfare of the community and their employees, and to not undermining the communities and environment they occupy.

I care about the environment and slowing climate change.  I feel blessed everyday to have the freedom to travel this earth, live in a beautiful part of the country, and enjoy nature when I am afforded the time to engage.  I am a creature of Mother Nature, and want to protect our earth for all those to come.  I feel we should invest more in initiatives that both preserve our environment and grow our economy sustainably.  I envision a day we don't have to continue to rob the earth of all of its resources to maintain a high quality of life.

I believe in individual rights.  The right of a woman to choose what to do with her body, the right for those in love to be together regardless of sex or gender, and the right for all Americans to live free of racism and discrimination.

As Democrats, there is mostly a universal agreement around this set of beliefs and philosophy, an din many ways, these beliefs reflect the fundamental religious teachings to love thy neighbor and the earth we have inherited.

Yet, basing our policies off of these core beliefs isn't going to win over the minds of moderate voters like myself who recognize that there is a balance between building an accountable, fair government and individual and social responsibility.

Instead, Democrats need to win over moderates and Republicans disgusted by the radical Right while exposing the fundamental hypocrisy and flaws of the GOP.

One thought is to turn the term "liberal" on the radical Right.

  • The Hateful Right is liberal when it comes to policies to destroy (not conserve) the environment.
  • The Hateful Right is liberal when it comes to allowing the President and Congress to run huge budget deficits which acts to devalue the money we call make.  
  • The Hateful Right is liberal when it comes to passing laws to infringe on the individual rights of Americans to live how they want, and that infringe on their privacy.
  • The Hateful Right is liberal in the way they change their mind based on whatever our President tells them to believe.
  • The Hateful Right is liberal when it comes to trampling on family values, allowing our President's immigration policy to conflict with the fundamental values of being a Christian.   
  • The Hateful Right is liberal in terms of lying and changing the dialogue to make their followers believe whatever the President wants them to believe.
  • The Hateful Right (media) is liberal in making people feel like disempowered victims of Democratic policies and fact based reporting instead of individuals with the ability to control their own destiny and think for themselves.
  • The Right is liberal when it comes to being complicit to the truth that our President's campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the democracy our parents, grandparents, and forefathers built.  True patriots should be disgusted with the truths that are to come, let alone the truths that have already been revealed.  
But that narrative is negative in nature.  You don't have to tell a person who voted for the President (just because they hated Hillary or thought that they would benefit financially) that the Hateful Right does not reflect the whole of the Republican Party.  Moderate Republicans know that by now, and they have either accepted they made a mistake and kept quiet, they became very public and defected from the party, or they are staying quiet out of fear of appearing weak.

Or they are just don't care as they got what they want through the tax cut and everything else the President does doesn't effect them while it may offend them and certainly offends others.  They are the silent majority of Republicans who say "I don't care.  Leave me alone.  Don't tell me how to think."  Those who keep quiet want to deny their accountability for the current President.   Their silence is a reflection of their shame, powerlessness, and apathy to attempt undo the past.  They know they voted for a person that they knew was horrible and reflected the worst of American greed and hate politics.  But they got their tax cut.  And accepting that they are complicit to his actions is asking them to take too much accountability.  

While this may sound condescending and harsh, this is something that democrats have to be able to let go, forgive, forget, and convince Moderate Republicans to rejoin the right side of history and the ongoing story of America's progress and success.

So, knowing Democrats will not win by calling out our disgraceful President, we instead need to win the narrative around values that will win over those that see beyond the hate and ignorance our President spews everyday.  

So what are those values?

1. Democrats have to accept that more government is not always the answer.  The notion of a utopia promoted through more government in a country founded upon revolution and the individual rights of man is not going to win.  We have to accept that government is expensive, terribly inefficient, and that simply adding to government isn't going to solve the fundamental challenges we all face.  Government deserves a better manager - not one who has declared bankruptcy several times - but rather a leader that can build a smarter government and find a way to continue to deliver value to the public with less tax dollars.  

2. Democrats have to speak less in ideals and concepts and more in tangible policies that appeal to all Americans.  Appealing to blanket policies around healthcare for all or free college for all isn't going to appeal to average families who have done their best to save for the education of their kids. Instead, focus on building infrastructure that supports all Americans and allows us to compete with Asia and Europe, and programs that result in giving those receiving social assistance the tools to get off social assistance.  Social programs for those of working age should be less about a safety net and more about empowering individual responsibility.  

3. Democrats have to recognize that we all hate taxes, but we can ask more responsibility out of Corporations and the business community for the welfare of society without penalizing those corporations and businesses that provide incomes for Americans.  That means those Corporations do more to support the social good through education, skill development, benefits, and by delivering on a social mission that provides direct benefit to the communities they occupy and support.

4. Government and business should be a partnership.  Both should be accountable to the people they serve and the people they employ.  

5. Democrats should focus more on building a sustainable economy here at home that rewards "Made in America."  Free trade may benefit emerging economies and simplify trade, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be concerned about investing in a lifecycle economy that promotes jobs at home.  Democrats should call out that the trade policies of our President are bad for the economy, will eliminate jobs, and will mean less income at the end of the day as prices rise on common goods.  Democrats have to do more to directly help communities left behind by globalization even if those communities continue to support our President.

6. While the treatment of immigrants trying to come to America is despicable and there is no excuse for their treatment, Democrats need to embrace the idea that we need to invest in Americans that are here now if we want to build a sustainable economy that can continue to support new immigration.  

7. Democrats cannot play victim or feel that these moderate policies are insensitive to those struggling to make ends meet in America.  Democrats need to show we can find common ground with Republicans and that we are able to compromise if it means moving all of American forward.  Let the voices and policies of the Hateful Rate bring doom upon themselves and continue to appeal to the sensible people on the other side of the aisle.  

8. While Democrats agree unions should act as a check on excess profiteering, those same hard-working union workers want to make sure their taxes are invested wisely here in America and not simply being redistributed to those who fail to put in the effort they do to support their families.  Democrats have been losing support in this regard by appealing to the old agenda of labor vs. management and erosion of the middle class instead of speaking to the notion of making sure you have more take home pay and that your taxes are spent to benefit all of us and not just to redistribute to others.  

Democrats need to promote rhetoric and a positive agenda that moderate Americans can get behind.  Let the Hateful Right destroy itself through it's own hate, and isolate them from a new narrative
around reconciliation, healing, unity, and bipartisan progress.   This strategy and philosophy has a better chance of winning over the hearts and minds of average Americans than suggesting more government or just attacking the President and the complicity of his Republican supporters to policies that are counter to their morals or belief in fiscal responsibility.  

The war against the Hateful Right will be won with unity and a return to the values that brought us together to defeat tyranny and injustice.  Democrats need to lead the charge and embrace a philosophy that appeals to rationale individuals.   

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Time to go big on Regional Cooperation

When I read that Brooks Patterson had pulled his support for a ballot proposal to raise property taxes to support mass transit, I was disappointed yet not surprised.  Sure, Brooks doesn't represent the views of all or even necessarily a majority of Oakland County voters.  Brooks was simply appealing to the fiscal rationality of property owners in his county, a majority of which do not leverage mass transit today nor would leverage it tomorrow with the expansion of bus service, the centerpiece of the proposals put forth by the RTA. 

It's not even clear that those voters would tax their own property to pay for better roads despite the fact that our roads and bridges continue to deteriorate.  Metro Detroiters won't bat an eye when given the opportunity to complain about potholes or the cost to repair their car or the threat poor road conditions pose to their personal safety, but when it comes to using property taxes to pay for better transportation, most voters want those tax dollars spent as close to their home as possible - on their local roads, their schools, and their police and fire.

Hundreds of thousands of Metro Detroiters drive across county lines each day for work.  Tens of thousands more travel across counties on the weekends to go to dinner and see a concert or sporting event in Detroit, to shop at Somerset in Oakland County or Partridge Creek in Macomb County, to see a concert at DTE Energy Music Center in Oakland County, to get on a plane at Detroit Metro Airport in Wayne County, or to go to a football game in Ann Arbor or Lansing.  Despite our tendency to identify ourselves by our actual city, most of us actually live regionally.  Most people don't think twice about the cost to access the market for restaurants, shopping, sporting events, concerts, or even to visit family and friends that live on the other side of town.  Even fewer think about the cost involved with delivering the food to that restaurant or the goods to the mall or the gas to the gas station we need to stop at to make sure we make it back home.  Even fewer think of the costs of transporting the goods that they order from

But there is a cost to accessing the people and things we want to consume, and unfortunately, the costs to access those things isn't being accounted for, resulting in deteriorating roads.  Worst is that we have allowed sprawl to go unchecked in our region, resulting in more roads and infrastructure to maintain and repair.  In some cases, we paid for major infrastructure to access a new shopping center only to see that strip mall close, leaving crumbling concrete boxes dotting our landscape.

To make matters worse, we happen to live along a major trade corridor between Canada and Mexico, and we allow overweight vehicles to pass through the state and degrade our roads without paying the full cost of using those roads. 

So, to put myself in the mindset of the average property owner and taxpayer, why would I want to pay higher taxes on my house to pay for roads I may never use?  The same argument can be made for transit by folks who live in Armeda or Clarkston who may never use that transit system they would being paying for through their property taxes. 

Yet, those same residents in Armeda or Clarkston might drive down to a few Tigers or Lions games a year in Detroit.  Some of them might even work in Detroit.  They might drive to Metro Airport to catch a flight and take their family to Florida during our gray, cold winters.

Residents of Detroit commute out of Detroit into Oakland County and Macomb County for shopping and jobs too.

As for me, I live in Grosse Pointe in Wayne County.  My closest Costco is in Macomb County.  The closest Apple Store is in Oakland County.  My favorite restaurants are in Detroit.  I split season tickets to Michigan football, so I find myself in Ann Arbor at least 3 or 4 times each fall.

So if you want folks to begin paying for the true cost of accessing the things they want, leverage a sales tax which doesn't penalize you for where you live, but does tax you for what it costs to access the goods you want.

Years ago, the voters in and around Denver voted to tax themselves .5% to build a modern transit system.  To make the math simpler, that's a quarter more (25 cents) on a $50 restaurant tab. 

In Michigan, cities and counties don't have the ability to raise a local option sales tax.  This is not allowed according to the Michigan constitution.  So even if we wanted to raise a regional sales tax to pay for transit or even roads, we couldn't.  For a region that is proud of its heritage, it's sad that we don't have all the tools at our disposal to build regional assets.

What may be worse, however, is that Michigan "home rule" has resulted in three county executives and a mayor that aren't even legally bound to work together with one another.  Whereas other regions like Minneapolis have leaders elected at a regional level to a regional body, we still allow geographic borders to determine our regional destiny.  Instead, we have SEMCOG, a body not elected by people, but by mayors and supervisors from governments that choose to participate and fight for the limited transportation resources we have.

This isn't to say that the ability to raise a regional sales tax or have a regionally elected transportation and planning body is the solution for our regional dysfunction.  Our auto companies are also vested in mobility and exporting the next generation of mobility options - autonomous vehicles and shuttles - to the market as well.  There is a grand opportunity in Metro Detroit to forge a truly public private partnership to deploy and export new transportation options to the U.S. and the world.  And this opportunity doesn't have to pit transit against auto mobility or Oakland and Macomb against Wayne and Washtenaw.  It can work for all residents of this region and other metro regions in our state.

What's clear is that the taxation and government model we have here is not working to serve regional interests, and the "big 4" getting together on a stage at a pancake breakfast to joke about our regional dysfunction is no longer funny. 

My proposal?  Create a regional elected entity with authority over transportation, infrastructure, and land use planning.  Levy a sales tax that goes not to just transit or roads but transportation sustainability that promotes efficiency and quality over sprawl and exclusive dependency on the automobile.   

It's time to change the conversation on transportation in Metro Detroit.  It's time to go big and revolutionize how we cooperate as a region and compete as a region against other regions for employers like Amazon.  It's time to quit fighting each other and scrapping for limited resources and instead build something together.  In a region with people known for their endurance and innovation, anything is possible if we work together. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A new fair deal for American democracy

As an American, and as a person who cares about giving their family a better life, we can all agree on one thing.  Taxes suck. 

Most of realize there is bare necessity to taxation because we are an interdependent society and someone has to build and maintain the road or bus or train or the sidewalk we take to get to work.  And most of us realize that since we are so big as a society, the yeoman ways espoused by our founding fathers isn’t going to work as our society grows, industrialization takes over, there is a scarcity of land, and we become more interdependent.  Put simply, the perfect balance capitalism and social and environmental sustainability (even with the espoused benevolence of society’s winners) isn’t going to manifest itself in a utopian society, leaving a vulnerable populace that must fend for themselves.  Hence, this thing called government, which provides goods that we all use, and some goods that only some of us use, but which, when executed fairly, should prevent the winners from exploiting the vulnerable and the vulnerable from rebelling against the exploiting capitalists. 

Thirdly, I think we can all agree that the vulnerable citizen populace deserves a fair deal and the resources to manifest their individual potential.  As long as you are a citizen and following the rules, you deserve a fair deal, regardless if your ancestors arrived 1,000 years ago, 400 years ago, 100 years ago, or became a citizen today.

In turn, those that are the recipients of government resources (whether that is redistribution of wealth to support social programs or government contracts to private entities to support defense) need to recognize their social responsibility to not abuse their public resources.  In other words, if you are receiving government benefits, you should be contributing to the common good (and not taking advantage of or exploiting the government for profits). 

So, if we can agree on these points, then maybe we can make one more leap.   Mainly, we can all agree that if you (the government) are going to take away my income, you better spend the money right.   More specifically, if the law is empowering you (the government) to do something that benefits all of us in the end, you better maximize the value to the population (the public who paid for it) impacted by that policy, and do it in the most fiscally efficient manner possible.

So ask yourself – are these democratic values, republican values, libertarian values, or green values?  Or is this just common sense?

(Ok, I know at some point there is something thinking that people should just fend for themselves completely and just screw government.  If you live on a farm and you produce and reproduce everything for yourself with no dependence on others and no negative externality on anyone else, you figured it out).

The problem is no party owns a monopoly over common sense government, but because we are a democracy (supposedly), we own the government, so we better find a way to execute the government in a way that maximizes both the common interest as well as our personal interests.   Let me repeat that – WE OWN THE GOVERNMENT and if we have to accept ownership in it, we better find a way to maximize its value to us based off a set of common values and goals. 


Last week I had a conversation with a former colleague and had an enlightened moment.

The average American citizen knows little to nothing about different ways a democracy can be run.  In college, I took a course on comparative democracy, studying electoral systems and parliamentary government.  There are two points I gained out of this course.

First, other democracies have different voting and electoral systems, which can result in many parties (not just 2) being represented in government.  These systems, to an extreme, can result in too many parties, lack of government continuity, and executional gridlock.  Yet, most systems, even when no party owns a majority of representation in the legislative body (e.g. Congress), are able to function because they find a way to work together based on a set of common values.  And, because of the setup of these alternative electoral systems, it’s more likely that you will vote for a winning party or candidate and feel represented in government than you will cast a vote and not feel like your vote counted (like Democrats in Texas, Republicans in California when they vote for President or Greens, Libertarians, and Independents when they vote for any candidate at any level).

From this, we should ask ourselves, could we maintain our democracy or even become more democratic if we simply allowed more diverse parties and interests to actually be a part of the government?  Should the Republican and Democrat party hold a monopoly on how our government is made up?  Do those monopolies fairly represent our diverse political interests?  Put simply, is our system of democracy right for America?

Second, the enlightened moment tonight really came down to this.

In alternative democratic models, there is often a stronger unification between the legislative and executive branches of government.  In other words, the equivalent actors of Congress and the President are more aligned.  In other words, the people making the laws and executing the laws are more closely aligned.  In other words, the people deciding the “what” are more aligned with the people determining the “how” of government.   In other words, the people deciding what government should do are more aligned with the people actually running the government.

In practice, this could mean the green party has more say over the EPA, or at least a voice in government when it comes time to make key policy decisions on energy or transportation or commerce which could impact the environment.

It could mean that Christians (there are Christian Democratic parties elsewhere) have a greater say in policies with a significant moral consequence.

This could mean libertarians having a greater say over policies that could potentially infringe upon personal rights or policies.

This could mean fiscal protectionist conservatives having a greater say over trade policies or procurement or personnel policies to prevent government from overextending its reach. 

Then ponder on this.

We elect 435 people to Congress to determine the “what” yet we only elect one person to the executive branch of government (the President) to determine the “how.”  (To the policy folks, I’m not trying to diminish completely the rule-making process, the appropriations process, or Congressional oversight over the Executive branch, its departments, and its agencies.  I’m only trying to say that if more members of Congress had direct input into the execution of government, they might find themselves more concerned with running government than changing the law).   Our system of electing one executive translates to a monopoly over execution of the government, and finding clever ways to ignore the laws passed by Congress if they don’t match their narrow set of interests.

But what is fundamentally lost in this structure of democracy is the innovation on how to execute government.  Each member of Congress comes with their own interests represented by their territory or their state.  Their goal – to legislate - add to the law, repeal the law – not necessarily fix the government bureaucracy that is already there.   Having worked on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) for several years, I cannot blame critics of its execution – it did indeed add to our federal bureaucracy - but I also cannot deny the “fairness” it attempted to create in terms of access to coverage.

While acknowledging that the underlying goals of government are different than a profit-oriented business, both business and government share the value of maximizing the value for those who own it or own in it and consume its services. Whether it’s the owner of the business, the person who works hard at their job to feed their family, or us, the public owning our government – we all want to feel like we are doing the best we can so we can maximize the personal benefits.  If that means a more efficient and effective government and less taxation on all of us, then we all win. 


No party owns a monopoly on common sense or how government should work. 

As much as Republicans want to own “draining the swamp,” lowering taxes, and reducing the size of government, we don’t have to look far back to see taxpayer money flowing into private entities to fight a costly war in Iraq.  We don’t have to look much farther back to a time where the government ran a surplus and was a creditor nation instead of running a huge deficit.

To my democrats, while your goals to progress our government and build a more sustainable and fairer society are noble, you cannot deny that our government needs fixing first.  No sense in buying a new carpet if the leaky roof promises to destroy it.  We need to own up that even though many of the programs created by democrats over the past 100 years have resulted in a fairer society, there is still a lot of room for improvement before we add onto it.  We also need to own up that while our free trade policies have opened up more economic opportunity around the world, they have come at the expense of environmental degradation, a huge trade deficit, and exploitation by the same profit-driven forces that have abused the ideal balance between capitalism and living sustainability. 

We all deserve a government that is efficient.  We all deserve a government that is accountable.  We deserve a government that enforces fairness without compromising the drive of the individual to better their own life and that of their family.  We need to elect officials with a proven track record to execute government in an effective yet benevolent manner, appealing to our common and rational values to make sure government is run in the best interest of all Americans and with the least financial burden on the taxpayer.

If we can strike a fair deal between our two ruling parties – to focus on running a more efficient and effective government instead of focusing on the fringe issues that separate us politically; if we can open up the policy dialogue to other parties so that our apathetic citizens feel more represented within government; if we can modify our democracy to be fairer and give elected officials a greater incentive to focus on running a more effective government instead of adding to it or gutting it; and if we can recognize that we all paid for the road and we all have to travel that road in order to survive as a nation, then maybe we can build a more perfect union for ourselves and our future citizens. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

CBS 60 Minutes: Detroit in 1976 and today

In case you missed it, here is the 60 Minutes piece on Detroit from last Sunday, October 13, 2013.

And just for comparison, here is a 60 Minutes piece on Detroit from 1976.

My take - Detroit's leadership - whether that is the Emergency Financial Manager, Mayor, or City Council - needs to find better ways to rezone land in the city for more productive purposes.  Reforestation, rip out the infrastructure, farm, give back to the commons - anything to make the city more livable for the residents.  

My letter to David Ridenour @ The National Center for Public Policy Research

I decided to write a letter to David Ridenour of the National Center of Public Policy Research regarding his article published in The Detroit News titled "Electric cars are running on empty promises."

Dear Mr. Ridenour:

I appreciate your very biased opinion of the electric vehicle market for the simple fact that it inspired me to make a post on my blog after a long hiatus (  Unlike you, I don't get the benefit of quality mass transit system like you have in D.C. nor do I have the benefit of spending my time thinking of ways to get more money from conservative donors so I can further the economic agenda of a very narrow strata of our society.  Hmm, come to think of it, when you try and push the agenda of gas powered cars over that of electric cars, you are of course exercising free speech but you are trying to protect the market of the oil industry.  Such protectionism seams counter to the "free market" values your think tank tries to promote.

But I'm not writing to tell you I see through the politics and hypocracy in your piece because that's too easy.  As an owner of electric-gas Chevy Volt, I thought I would react to your piece with a few of my own opinions. 

First, you are right that current electric powered vehicles are not very big (with the exception of some Tesla vehicles), so perhaps they are not the best vehicles to pack up a family of 4 and spend a week on the road.  I happen to like the hatchback on my Volt because I can fit more in my trunk space than I could with my previous sedan, but I'll recognize your point here.  I doubt that in the early days of gas cars - where I think there was one or two seats - that those cars were ideal for the nuclear family you outline in your piece.  Yet, for someone who uses his Volt to drive to work and back alone and the occasional trip to the gym, the size doesn't mean much to me.

Second, you are right when you pointed out that when purchased outright, even with the government tax credit, my Volt is much more expensive than a gas car of similar size.  I also understand that our automakers here in Detroit take quite a hit on these vehicles.  I happen to lease my vehicle, and will end up investing $10 - 12k total over the life of the 3 year lease with gas and charging included.  I'll cover why my car does make a lot of economic sense later, but I'll acknowledge your point that these cars do cost more money.

Thirdly, I will also acknowledge that my Volt only has an electric range of around 40 miles, that it does take 4 hours on a 240v charger to charge fully, and that the government's investment of $7.5 billion over 10 years seems like a lot of money to the average American family.

So here's what you missed in your piece and I apologize if this sounds too anecdotal compared to the cropped facts you chose to put in your piece.

1. My Volt is fun to drive.  Last I heard, this is a characteristic that car buyers also look for in addition to utility.  It hauls off the line.  I can even trick it to charge my battery which is pretty cool too.  I have a friend who has driven Cameros and Corvettes and he loves his Volt.  The interface in the car is pretty awesome as well, even on the base version. 

2. I've owned my Volt for almost 6 months, I've put 5k miles on it, and I've used under 20 gallons of gas.  Since I put premium gas in, and the gas in Michigan can be almost $4 per gallon, I've spent about $80 on gas so far.  During that 6 months, I've spent about $22 per month charging it from home (I've used free chargers in public places too - still haven't found a place giving out free gas).  So, I've spent around $200 to power my vehicle for about 5k miles.  A car that gets 35 miles per gallon (which is a generous MPG) would have spent around $500 to fuel their car at $3.50 per gallon.  While this amount over the life of the vehicle may not make up for the premium I pay for it, my everyday out of pocket costs are pretty good.  My Volt tells me that, over the life of the vehicle, I'm getting 222 MPG.  Pretty nice.

3. Can you please post how much the government subsidizes the oil industry on an annual basis?  Oh wait, I know your answer.  They deserve that money because they pay so much tax on that $10 billion in quarterly profit.  I won't go into the military costs around protecting our supply of oil.  It's probably only a few bucks, right?  The foreign policy issues associated with oil dependence are bigger issue - let's just say I don't think your piece really furthers the agenda of energy independence.  Instead, if I were to read into your piece and your politics, I would say you are pretty liberal when it comes to spending money to protect America's dependence on oil. 

4. My friendly [conservative-run, profit-minded] utility company paid for a $2,500 charger installation which charges my car in 4 hours and which provides permanent economic value to my home.  That move made a lot of economic sense for me.

Bottom line: Electric cars may not make sense to everyone, but they did for me, and while I too was a skeptic, I have to say, I love my Chevy Volt and I will probably own an electric car for the rest of my life.  When I can afford to power the car off energy produced in my own home, I'll be even more energy independent. 

And to be fair, we do have a gas powered family car that we can take on road trips and hold our nuclear family when that larger family comes to fruition. 

So, here's what I invite you to do Mr. Ridenour.

1. Go drive a Chevy Volt, not just a test drive, but rent one for a month or something.  Put it in sport mode and have some fun.  Maybe you'll find an electric charging station where you can charge up for free.   Then come back and diss the car as a free market consumer rather than a conservative, big oil-funded think tank president.  

2. Write a piece that compares the government subsidies for electric vehicles vs. oil and gas subsidies.

3.  Consider the average driver as something different than the nuclear family you describe and consider their needs.  Consider that an electric car may not be the best all around vehicle for driving a family of 4 a few hundred miles to grandma's house, but it may be just the answer for someone who uses it to drive to work and back, or to supplement another vehicle. 

Thank you.

Geoff Young
Proud owner of Chevy Volt

Sunday, February 17, 2013

News from Detroit: February 17, 2013


Meet The Makers: Rebuilding Detroit by Hand

Remaking Detroit: Can Creative Companies Save an American City on the Brink?

Now Atlanta Is Turning Old Tracks Green


The New and Improved Electoral College Map

The Social Trends Driving American Gangs and Gun Violence

How to Unparalyze Us

Margin calls
Life on the edges of America’s financial mainstream


Detroit Labs doubles staff, preps to move into its own space

Urban trailblazing: New series looks for trends before they happen

Guest Blogger: David Tarver

Creativity flourishes at Detroit Labs, a smartphone app developer

TechTown lands $1M to create Detroit Technology Exchange

Comerica refi may hint at Wings arena financing


New Detroit Blight Authority to speed up bringing houses down|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Tom Walsh: If GM thrived after bankruptcy, why not Detroit?|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

'Dry Bones'? Hardly — There's Still Life In Detroit

Thomas and Dewar: What Detroit could learn from Youngstown

Bing announces partnership to raze more homes, defends 'difficult decisions'

Detroit Mayor Says City Is Making Progress on Debt

EDITORIAL: Better under Bing isn't good enoug

KEITH CRAIN: Of course they don't like the idea of an EM


Fallacy of the creative class: Why Richard Florida’s ‘urban renaissance’ won’t save U.S. cities

Healthier Communities Through Design

10 principles for making high-density cities better

The Geometry of Transit-Friendly Neighborhoods


MOCAD Renovation: Plan For Detroit Art Museum Wins Architectural Review Award (PHOTO)

Building Facade, Detroit

Detroit: Pictures of a Neighborhood

An 'Autopsy' Of Detroit Finds Resilience In A Struggling City


Can fuel-cells overtake batteries in the race to be green?

Impact Investing for the New Economy: People

Michigan battery firm spent $143M of U.S. grant, never made one item

2 new venture funds formed in Michigan|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s

Automation Alley accepting applications for entrepreneur fellowships


Time to support Snyder

Phil Power: Gov. Rick Snyder makes clear he's about investment

Snyder wants state to be leader for emerging automated technology

I-69 International Trade Corridor group sends tax-free renaissance zone request to Lansing

Detroit chamber's goals may not match state GOP's


South Korea's aerotropolis blueprint is no flight of fancy

Midwest High-Speed Rail: Hundreds Of Firms Will Benefit From New Web Of Routes

Ray LaHood: “Sitting on the Sidelines Doesn’t Accomplish Anything”

Left In The Dark: Copper Thieves Rob Detroit Freeways Of Light

A 12th stop might be in M1 Rail's future, pending federal approval


Macomb County's Top Businesses Recognized

DOWNRIVER: Ficano: Hype can help grow region

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Policy News from Detroit: February 10, 2013


Detroit, the Billionaire’s Playground

Patenting and Innovation in Metropolitan America


US Manufacturing: The Misunderstood Economic Powerhouse

Weekend Read: Debunking the Myth of the Startup Hub

Will Google Kill The Auto Industry? No, And Here's Why.

8 founders who ruined their companies

IdeaLab 2013 recapped

The New Three R's Every Business Must Learn

Whole Foods, Target, Wal-Mart Stores Stores Push Into Cities

The shipping news
Despite problems, a revival in shipping on the Great Lakes is expected

University Research Corridor a worthy investment|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s


The Happiest And Unhappiest Cities To Work In Right Now

Is It Time for a Set of 'Localist Papers'?

The Worst Run Cities In America: 24/7 Wall St.

A Framework For Creating A Thriving Detroit Of The Future

Unheralded Outperformers: 10 Metro Markets That Are Leading the Housing Recovery

Walkable Urbanism as Foreign Policy

How to make sustainability sustainable

Innovation and the Wealth of Cities

Defending Youngstown: One City's Struggle to Shrink and Flourish


Export-Import Bank opens office in Detroit's TechTown|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

'Why Don't We Own This' Site Maps Detroit's Housing Crisis With New Tools To Battle Back

Tom Walsh: A Disney-esque automotive attraction for Detroit could rev up Motor City|head

Bargain Homes Lure Buyers Worldwide to Detroit: Mortgages

Detroit Classics, Priced to Move

John Gallagher: Detroit Future City and the roadblocks

Detroit's Innovative Survival Plan Is A Model For The World - But Will It Work?

Tale of two futures? Future City blueprint shows what Detroit could be|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Detroit entrepreneurs plan to hire workers

Detroit developers revamp high-rises for young professionals|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Experts weigh in on downtown Detroit's retail revival|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Detroit Land Bank readies for a major growth spurt|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

10 Sustainable Business Trends Underway in Detroit (Photo Tour)

Josh Linkner: Think of what is possible, not obstacles|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

6 Lessons From America's Comeback Kid -- Detroit, MI

Preserving Urban Rivers in Detroit and Across the Great Lakes

Detroit, blue city

Leg Up for Downtown Detroit

Ilitch consultant: Wings arena could break ground by fall


Insurance Analysts: Obamacare to Increase Out-of-Pocket Premium Costs, Despite Lavish Subsidies

Mich. gives Whitney revamp $8.5M

How to Win States and Disenfranchise People: The GOP's Electoral-Vote Plan

The GOP and the City

How the Post Office Made America

Detroit's Property Tax Black Hole, in Map Form

China Steps Up Buying in U.S.


John Carlisle: City Council's regular speakers put on a good show

Clark Durant: For Detroit, it's time for vision, not scorn|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s

Nancy Kaffer: 'New' Detroiters need to make their voices heard

Stuck in reverse, Detroit rolls closer to bankruptcy

Detroit neighborhoods languish through city's fiscal ills

Rudolph: Detroit's condition is a collective failure

Graphic: Detroit Then and Now


Wayne County communities keeping some zoo tax money for downtowns|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Developing Macomb's Blue Economy{Email_Address}&utm_campaign=It+All+Points+East

Cottons seed plan for GP Park

Novi Continues to Make Economic Development a Priority

Three Decades of Regional Innovation

Downtown Opportunities: Selling Ann Arbor's city-owned properties for urban residential development

New Oakland County official hopes to improve regional water system through cooperation

Patterson: Oakland County is on the rebound

Patterson speech touts his recovery, Oakland County's prospects

Macomb Co. board chairman a history maker|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s


Michigan vies for top 10 status in economic competitiveness

Snyder: Gas tax, Medicaid plans make fiscal sense

Snyder's political agenda shifts to center

Snyder budget calls for higher gas tax, vehicle fee, more for education

EDITORIAL: Expanding Medicaid is sound economic choice


Who's to blame for Michigan's road woes?

Metro Detroit near, dear to outgoing U.S. Transportation secretary Ray LaHood

A highway runs through it
Is it really a good idea to spend $1.8 billion expanding a 6.7-mile stretch of I-94 in Detroit?

Report: Greater Detroit a leader in tech employment, innovation

The new Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority: A solid step forward, but many more ahead

Americans now spending most on gas since early 1980s

Atlanta Aerotropolis

U.S. commits funds; M1 Rail construction to begin this year, Cullen says

OTHER VOICES: TRANSPORTATION: Fix more than beaten track



Delta's Glass Bottom Jet App

Motor City requiem

Planting New Life in Detroit's Vacated Landscape
How Christians are spearheading the urban farming movement in Motor City.

Ruin Porn or Realism? Why Chicago’s Artists Are Obsessed with Detroit

Life in the Red