Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Change of Emphasis

Having now lived in Iron County for over 12
years, and having driven initiatives to foster
improvement in the local governments and
economy, it has become obvious that this
community fights against any advance that’s
not sport/outdoor related tooth, nail, and claw.
The odds have overwhelmed anyone and
everyone who has actually worked for
improvement, and all such efforts are proven

In what became the Warsaw Pact nations, right
at the end of World War 2, coalition
governments were formed in an attempt to
satisfy every faction. Invariably the
communists were, by their request, given the
national police to run, while other factions took
over the various other branches of government.

Over time, in the natural course of events, with
communists favored at every turn of by the law
enforcers, all the nations evolved into total
communism. Here in Iron County, and much
of Michigan’s upper peninsula, the solitary
function that was quickly taken over by the local
oligarchy is education. It takes a concerted effort
by only one branch of government to achieve any
particular goal so long as that branch is totally
devoted to the mission. You can see by the results
how effective they were.

So for more than a century what the Upper
Peninsula children learned both at home and
school was a single creed, “Shut up and do as
you’re told.” And to reassure that the lesson
could never be diluted, a second creed took
effect. If you’re not born here, what you think
and say can have no effect, because you’re not
from here, so you cannot possibly appreciate
how things are. When Dan Vosyka, a transplant
to the shore of Ice Lake coming from Illinois
first told me this, I couldn’t believe it. But as
time has gone on, I noticed little things like the
signs on Angeli’s Central Market doors, “Not
just in the community, but part of it.” If, for
example, as a visitor to the UP you don’t know
this dirty little secret, that statement on the door
doesn’t make any sense so why not simply gloss
over it? But once you understand, you begin to
see it literally everywhere. That’s much like
buying a different brand of car or pickup. All
of a sudden you notice how many cars just like
yours inhabit the roads, cars you never noticed
before are there in abundance. They always
were, you just never noticed them before.

I don’t find it odd at all, that if one drives the
few miles it takes to get out of Michigan’s
Upper Peninsula, none of these attributes exist
in the Wisconsin local populations. I haven’t
spent time on the Iron Range in Wisconsin or
Minnesota to discover whether the teachings are
natural to regions formerly controlled by big
money mines and thus are a cultural holdover or
are actually unique to Michigan’s UP, but then I
am not a social scientist so exactly why these
things have become the local morés is not of
interest to this article, but the fact they do
provides a good explanation for the economic
depression unique to this region.

When I meet “important persons” here in Iron
County, within the first few minutes of
conversation I invariably hear, “I was born up
here, at such-n-such location.” Once you notice,
it is, at the risk of repeating myself,
EVERYWHERE! And of course I wasn’t
born here, let alone even in this country, despite
the fact that I am, under the law, a natural born
American citizen. In most of these United
States of America, any citizen with broader
experience than those who are born in the US
and never travel more than 100 miles from
home are valued as people who bring useful
experience to the locality where they now
live. Not so in Iron County!

Moneyed outsiders who have transplanted to
the UP seem to come here for the isolation or,
as is the case of one of the current Iron County
commissioners, because their wife grew up here.
I met a couple who were born here and mostly
grew up in Iron County but now live in New
York City, more precisely in Manhattan. They
told me they bought a house in Iron River and
that they don’t want anything changed here. No
progress of any sort. For them it is a primitive
vacation spot that gets them away from the
pace of advanced civilization and they don’t
give a whit about the effect on the local
population and that most of the children who
grow up here have to leave in order to be able
to earn a middle class living.

So the reasons for the region being economically
depressed some 40 years after the last mine in
Iron County closed are simple enough. Those
who most easily could foster economic
improvement for the general population don’t
because there’s no benefit to them. The rest of
the population refuses to stand up for
themselves by forcing their elected officials to
do anything useful. For example, how many
years has the Iron County Economic
Development Corporation been funded by tax
money, and in all those decades what have they
actually achieved? This combination leaves no
way for us to improve the economic situation
in this region. The people have to want it, and
they’re content to see their children move far
away to build successful lives elsewhere and
to be served by the two nursing homes that
provide good care here in Iron County. And
that’s because they learned early in life to
“shut up and do as you’re told,” a lesson
they never got over.

Earlier in my life I twice found myself living
and working in areas similar to today’s
economic lethargy similar to Michigan’s UP.
The first was Cumming, Georgia. But Cumming
is within a commuting distance of Atlanta, and
you should see it today. It has wildly expanded
and grown. The second was Dover, Delaware.
The entire region south of the Canal on the
Delmarva Peninsula was pretty much destitute.
Once again, it too has bloomed into an economic
powerhouse. But it will take many generations
for this region to outlive the teachers who did
such a good job in holding the economy down
by teaching subservience.

That said, the focus of this little publication is
shifting primarily to a single question with
many reasons for the answers that are created
by the actions of government affecting all of
us, wherever in the USA you happen to live.
That question is, “Is America a lie?” I’ll begin
with the federal case I presently have in court.
That doesn’t mean that nothing about America
is wonderful, but these articles will point out
significant shortfalls in the promise of America.
Those promises aren’t, after all, a statistical
game, but were designed to be universal,
applying equally to everyone. Where they do
not, makes America a lie that can and must be
corrected in spite of oligarchies that fight to
keep things just as they are.

As we progress with this publication, there are
a couple of important things to keep in mind.
Every topic that I will touch has a direct
relationship to someone or some group living
in Iron County. None of it will be remote purely
intellectual discussion, but rather will be very
practically linked to local people and situations.
The second consideration is that this publication
has a strongly international audience in addition
to local readers. Some of the recent visitors are
from: Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine, Canada,
India, Netherlands, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and
Mauritania. Given the internet, we are one world
much more than ever before. What happens here
is of interest around the world.

Bill Vajk

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