4 Things We Learned About Michigan Through The Primary

If you want an honest opinion, ask a stranger, or so the saying goes. During the past couple of weeks, the political press corps has been spread out across Michigan, following Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul around the state, finding all kinds of things out.

Their stories have reflected a state that some Midwesterners might not recognize. So, here’s a list of what we learned through the Michigan primary.

1) We’re in a class war. The Michigan Republican party is divided between wealthy people and working class and middle class Republicans, or so writers told us.

Ron Brownstein of the National Journal found the latter at the Knights of Columbus hall in Lincoln Park.

They’re what he needs if Santorum is going to eventually beat Romney. He ” will likely have to reach more deeply into blue-collar, heavily Catholic, working-class white communities that have became central to the Republican electoral coalition, especially between the coasts,” Brownstein wrote.

Paul West of the Los Angeles Times found the same thing when he went to Troy. “The bitter Republican primary battle in Michigan has turned into an all-out class war,” he wrote. Continue reading “4 Things We Learned About Michigan Through The Primary”

Midwest Memo: High Speed Ohio, Bailout Opinions And Gov. Walker’s Decision

Manufacturing promises Reuters asks economists whether the new political focus on manufacturing will actually create jobs. The answer is, basically, no.

Driving downloads The state of Ohio is spending $10 million to increase its broadband internet speeds tenfold between colleges and universities.

It’s over After 13 weeks, the Cooper Tire lockout in Findlay Ohio is finally over. The Toledo Blade reports that workers approved a new five-year contract yesterday. They could be back in the plant later this week.

Split opinions Yesterday, we asked “Who gets credit for the bailout?“ Meanwhile, the BBC looked into why opinions of the auto industry bailout are split, even in Michigan.

Want to become a landlord? The federal government has a new plan to auction off foreclosed homes owned by Fannie Mae and turn them into rental homes. Chicago is one of the first cities where it will happen.

Ready for a recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has decided not to challenge any of the 1 million recall signatures filed against him. That means the recall election will almost certainly move forward.

Something fishy The US Supreme Court once again declined to weigh in on the debate over what to do about Asian Carp. Partner station WBEZ has the story.

UAW speech President Obama will give a speech to UAW members at a conference in Washington this morning. The event starts at 11:45, and you can watch it live here.

Big day There’s something going on in Michigan today. What was it? Maybe Michigan Radio can help.

Which States Do Young People Like Best? Not The Ones You Think.

We admit it, we’ve been a little pollobsessed lately. But last week, a poll caught our attention that had nothing to do with the upcoming GOP primaries in Michigan and Ohio. The poll was done by Public Policy Polling and it basically ranks U.S. states based on popularity.

Turns out, the Midwest didn’t do so hot. No Midwestern states were in the top 10, and Illinois had one of the lowest scores of all states. But buried deep in the data, we noticed that opinions of states varied hugely depending on who was being polled. And, since we spend a lot of time in the Midwest talking about how to attract young people, we wondered how the poll results would be different if you just looked at people aged 18-29. So we put together some charts. As you can see, the results are a little surprising. Tennessee? Really?

Continue reading “Which States Do Young People Like Best? Not The Ones You Think.”

Michigan Primary Raises A Big Question: Who Gets Credit For The Bailout?

Publicus Tacitus, the Roman senator, is given credit for coining the phrase, “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.” He’d feel right at home during the Michigan Republican primary campaign.

Ford's Rouge plant, by Charles Sheeler

Over the past few weeks, candidates, their opponents and those who played a role have been debating just who should get credit for the auto industry bailout.

It’s a long-overdue discussion of what happened a little over three years ago, and the conversation shows just what a political hot button the situation still is for people in Michigan and the Midwest. Here’s a list of credit takers and how they make their cases. Continue reading “Michigan Primary Raises A Big Question: Who Gets Credit For The Bailout?”

Arriving in a New Land, Alone at Seventeen

Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We’re asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you.

Changing Gears is looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We’ll be collecting these stories  on the Your Family Story page. They’ll also appear at changinggears.info and we’ll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

In the early 1900’s our widowed great grandmother, Soledad Perez, left the USA and went back to La Piedad in Mexico to raise her four daughters: Luz, Angelina, Esther & Carmen.

In the winter of 1948 my mother, Esther, a young newly married 17 year-old, found herself in a Mexican border town boarding a train headed for the USA. Her husband (my father Antonio Ramirez Manzo) gave her an address of a Catholic parish in Detroit, MI.

My father had to stay at the border until his papers were fixed. My mother was alone and frightened but she came to the USA for a better future. She spoke no English and knew no one. But still, this frightened young seventeen year old came back to the country she was born in.

My father’s family comes from Sahuayo, Michuacan. His family surname Manzo is Italian. Many Manzos come from Colima, Mexico. My mothers family comes from La Piedad, Michuacan. Her father’s surname Perez is Spanish.
My father played guitar and sang traditional classical Mexican music. He retired from Ford Motor Company, but also supported our family with his music. He would play traditional Mexican music at social events & at the El Nibble Nook in Livonia, MI for many years.
-Carlos Manzo

Midwest Memo: Workers Need More Skills, Detroit Needs More Money And Wisconsin Needs Faster Internet

Collared The Presidential candidates are all out talking about creating more manufacturing jobs. The National Journal looks at what that’ll take. The magazine says we’ll need more blue-collar workers with white-collar training.

Detroit’s ticking clock Detroit leaders have been furiously trying to cut costs to avoid being taken over by an emergency manager. But the Detroit News says the city is still dangerously low on cash, and could run out of money by April.

Pension predicament The new tax on worker pensions in MIchigan is either confusing people, or angering them, according to the Detroit News. The pension tax was created last year to offset a reduction in Michigan’s business tax. The change took effect in January.

Broadband dreams Wisconsin ranks 43rd in the nation for access to high-speed broadband internet.The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel takes a look at how to change that, and finds Chattanooga, Tenn. may be the model to follow.

Guardian angels Crain’s Chicago Business says angel investors are focused in on Chicago tech companies, hoping to find the next Groupon.

This is a new one In an interview with the Associated Press, Ford chairman Bill Ford Jr. says he’s worried about selling too many vehicles.

On A Busy Campaign Weekend, Santorum Ventures Up North in Michigan

Republican candidates are wrapping up a busy weekend of campaigning before Michigan’s primary on Tuesday. But Rick Santorum is going where few have ventured — Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Santorum was set to hold a campaign rally at noon ET in Marquette, marking a rare visit by a candidate above the Mackinac Bridge.

The vast majority of candidate visits have been to southeast and western Michigan — not surprising, since that’s where the vast majority of Republican voters are located.

But, the U.P. has a Republican congressman, Dan Benishak. He took the seat vacated by veteran Democrat Bart Stupak in 2010. (You might remember Stupak for backing President Obama’s health care program.) Continue reading “On A Busy Campaign Weekend, Santorum Ventures Up North in Michigan”

Your Story: If You Love Michigan, Give Stuff Away for Free

Kedron Rhodes showing off some of the designs he's giving away during February

A lot of people like where they live, but there are also people like Kedron Rhodes-who love, love, love, where they live.

The 34 year-old professional designer lives outside of Grand Rapids.

He just can’t think of enough ways to show his appreciation for Michigan. But he’s trying. One of his ideas is to run a design challenge of sorts.

Each day in February, Rhodes is making a new graphic design and posting it online.

Anyone can download the designs and use them as they see fit.

“Take it and put it on a product,” said Rhodes. “Sell it, give it away, I don’t care.”

Rhodes is one of a number of young(ish) professionals dedicating themselves to earnest, old fashioned boosterism. It seems uncool and anti-hipster, but strangely-its not.

“I think the state has fantastic energy right now,” said Rhodes. “Maybe it’s that this re-birth is something my generation can really have an appreciation for.”

Rhodes grew up in western Michigan and then left the state for Florida, but he returned three years ago because he says he missed his family, the seasons, and even the snow.

Last year was the first year he ran his design challenge, and he’s seeing more interest this year.

Rhodes typically spends about an hour to an hour and a half each evening creating the designs. He says he has yet to see somebody walking by with one of his designs on a t-shirt, but he hopes too, soon.

*This story was informed by the Public Insight Network. Add your story here.

Where Have The Effects Of Trade With China Hit Hardest? Not In The Midwest

From "The China Syndrome: Local Labor Market Effects of Import Competition in the United States," an MIT working paper. Click for a larger view

The surge Chinese manufacturing over the past two decades has gotten a lot of attention – and a lot of concern – in the industrial Midwest.

It’s easy enough to see what the effects have been here. We’ve seen it in the empty factories that no longer make things. We’ve seen the increase in products made in China. And it’s easy to think that the Midwest has suffered more than any other region from trade with China.

But a working paper released last year by MIT shows that isn’t true.

The researchers who wrote the paper looked at how increased Chinese imports have affected workers in different metropolitan areas (or “commuter zones” as they preferred to call them).

The paper itself is filled with complicated equations that may be difficult to confront on a Friday afternoon. But the MIT News service posted a story about the paper this week, including comments from economist David Autor, one of the study’s authors.

Here’s a Friday-friendly explanation of what they found:

Continue reading “Where Have The Effects Of Trade With China Hit Hardest? Not In The Midwest”