Letters to the Editor 

Rooting from afar

Even with a diametrically opposed political persuasion, I couldn't help but be a bit moved by Jack's column ("Fund education — or die," Metro Times, May 16). He and I share a love for the city of Detroit and wish to see it prosperous again. I spent my entire childhood plus eight collegiate years in Detroit. I am one of the "... many people with degrees ... leaving the state." The greatest driving factor was a far greater amount of employment opportunity outside of my home state. I agree that the automotive industry will likely not be king for much longer. I also agree that when new industries begin to move in (due, in large part, to tax incentives), Michigan needs to have a college-educated work force ready to drive progress.

But, getting back to the political differences, I feel it has been proved many times over that throwing more money into public education does not necessarily yield improvement. The money needs to land in the hands of people who are passionate about real education and the future of Michigan. I'm pretty sure there hasn't been a single budget year where less money was spent on education (percent increases may not have met projections, but there has never been an actual decrease). —Mike Sevegney, Ph.D., Setauket, N.Y.

 

Not by education alone

I read with interest your piece on school funding. I couldn't agree with you more. We should fund our schools and universities. But the idea that higher education is going to pull us out of this pit, I find quite naive. What are all these college degree holders going to do?

Do you think for one minute that engineering jobs are going to stay here when all the manufacturing moves to India and China? I would expect those jobs to go where the stuff is actually made. Same goes for biotech. I think that we must someday face the fact that manufacturing pays the bills.

Right now, China, India, and a whole slew of other low-wage countries that have export-only economies are living on the echo of a high-wage working America.

I myself make $9 an hour. I get help from my dad when things get tight. And they usually do. My dad is living on a pension right now. What will happen when he and millions of others of America's last pensioners die off?

I would expect the entire economy to collapse, just as I see it collapsing all around me already. Once the collapse is complete, China, India, and the whole slew of other low-wage-export-dependent counties will have nowhere to sell their wares.

This situation is reminisent of the 1920s. The stock market now, just as then, will be the last domino to fall. Then the game will be up. China will be holding worthless U.S. government bonds and have no market for her products.

I think some ink needs to be spilled on how to extricate ourselves from this dilemma. And slamming the door on India, China and the others that have grown dangerously dependent on our markets the minute things get tight is not the answer. Nor is staying the course. —Bob Cornwell, Warren

 

Inherit the wind

I had to laugh when I read Lessenberry's article, "As Michigan Crumbles" (Metro Times, May 23), in which he laments, as a lot of older Americans lament, the "mean-spiritedness" of the current American generation. No offense, but what did older America expect? The folks of my generation (mid- to post-Vietnam) were raised during the oil crisis, the aftermath of Watergate, and all that jazz of the late '70s and early '80s. We saw our hippie parents morph into "greed is good" yuppies in the 1980s — and watched jobs leave America as our parents marveled at the discount prices — with the empty promises that new jobs were available if we educated ourselves better.

We are a nation of mercenaries, roaming the planet, looking for our next temp contract, with neither time nor care for the old-timers who talk about the "good old days" with tears in their eyes. You sold your souls for a few moments of happiness, then sold your children's souls for a few moments more. Do not be surprised by with the treatment you get when you have nothing left to offer. —Matthew A. Sawtell, La Grange Park

 

Art and artifacts

Like any of the great archeologists at the beginning of that practice, Rebecca Mazzei demonstrates in her article "Smithson's Institute" (Metro Times, May 16) the burden one undertakes when excavating meaning from a little known artifact. In this case the artifact is an early drawing by Robert Smithson extricated from the 166 works on display at MOCAD. Mazzei writes, "one untitled drawing immediately caught my eye and called me over ..." and then later states "It puts his career into perspective." in that short sentence Mazzei demonstrates the possibilities of enlightenment when one acknowledges ignorance of a certain portion of a well-known artist's body of work. Smithson's "Untitled" 1961 drawing became Mazzei's Rosetta Stone, unlocking the mystery of the artist turned superstar. This illustrates for me the ideal viewer: Go in with wide open eyes, take what you can, go home build on it, go back, take another taste, allow it to digest, accept flavors that are unfamiliar and allow yourself to discover they might already be on more menus than first thought. This is what happened to me while digging through Burt Aaron's collection, surprises — the biggest surprise of all is how many mid-career artists' work I was not familiar enough with to put a name to, let alone fully comprehend the dialogue they hope to engage in. Thanks to Rebecca Mazzei we all have an illustration on how to approach our next visit to an exhibition of art. —John Corbin, Grosse Pointe

Send letters (250 words or less, please) to letters@metrotimes.com. Please include your telephone number for verification. We reserve the right to edit for length, clarity and libel.

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